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Placido Domingo will end his tenure as general director Washington National Opera in 2011

Placido Domingo will end his tenure as general director Washington National Opera in 2011

For months now, Washington National Opera has been the source of tantalizing reports and rumors. Late Monday, official word came about one of the matters being widely discussed: Placido Domingo will conclude his long tenure as general director June 30, 2011. Still up in the air is whether the company will be folded into the Kennedy Center in the future, as has been widely surmised. (Such a move would no doubt lead to  rethinking of the general director post.)

Domingo, the stellar tenor (and, lately, baritone), has been associated with the administration of WNO since 1996, when he was named artistic director. His title was upgraded to general director in 2003.

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A statement released by WNO includes Domingo's remarks to the company's board of trustees on Monday: "For the last 14 seasons, I have had the great pleasure of leading the Washington National Opera. It has been a long and fruitful collaboration, and although I will continue to help the company artistically in any way possible, the current season — my fifteenth season with Washington National Opera — will be my last as General Director."

The fact that Domingo has spent several years as a bi-coastal administrator, serving concurrently as general director of the Los Angeles Opera, raised

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concerns on both coasts. Although he never lacked for detractors when it came to running either opera company, his commitment, energy and imagination certainly won admirers as well. And, at least early on, he managed to make both communities feel he was part of them. Audiences routinely greeted him with affection.

Earlier this month, he extended his contract in L.A., where he just performed the world premiere of Daniel Catan's "Il Postino." (The more conservative WNO board has not show much interest in launching new operas.)

It is beyond doubt that Domingo gave WNO an artistic boost, attracting major vocal artists, including soprano Renee Fleming; expanding the company's repertoire; and developing a fine development program for young singers. During his tenure, the company started annual outdoor simulcasts on the National Mall and, recently, D.C.'s new baseball stadium.

In a press release, WNO president Kenneth R. Feinberg said: "We appreciate all that Plácido Domingo has done for our great company. He will be missed, but all good things must come to an end." ... While today's news may mark the end of the formal marriage, we are looking forward to artistic collaborations in the future."

Domingo is still scheduled to perform with the company this spring, singing in a production of Gluck's "Iphigénie en Tauride" and conducting performances of Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" and Donizetti's "Don Pasquale."

PHOTO: FLORIAN SCHUH/AFP/Getty Images

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