Placido Domingo and Stephen Colbert

Colbert has a good singing voice and often sings along with his musical guests but singing an opera duet with one of the great tenors Placido Domingo must be his most ambitious effort yet. Here they perform La Donna E Mobile from Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto. This clip appeared on February 23, 2012. (To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)

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It seemed to me that he did a pretty fair job but my own knowledge of opera is highly limited so I am not the best judge.

My favorite aria is The Telephone of Brazil from the long-running opera Sesame Street, here sung by Placido Flamingo.

What can I say? I love the Muppets.


  1. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    What can I say? I love the Muppets.

    Of course you do, you’re an intelligent person with good taste. 🙂

  2. Drolfe says

    Sesame Street has really been knocking it out of the park with pop-culture parodies this past year (or so). Their version of Glee was hilarious to me. If I wasn’t in a dash, I’d link something for you 🙂

  3. Tim says

    Love the Muppets. Mr Colbert is usually quite funny, but I didn’t find anything funny about an amateur trying to sing along with one of the great tenors on the planet. (I know nothing about opera.)

  4. HP says

    Alright, I have a B.M. from a major American conservatory (which is a bit like having a B.S. in physics from Stanford). It took me a while to make my way through the various ad blockers and pop-up blockers, but here’s my “professional” opinion: Colbert does not have a decent full voice, but that’s not to be held against him, since few untrained singers do. I’m sure he’d do fine in a musical theater setting, and as he’s a professional entertainer, that’s not surprising.

    His pitch is remarkably pure on the tonic, mediant, and dominant, and, again, that’s all to the good and to be expected. But when the vocal is to set up V/ii or other secondary dominants, he’s consistently flat. The fact that he’s consistently flat means that he’s eminently teachable. Right now, I wouldn’t put him on stage in a major musical performance. But with the right coach, he’d be a brilliant Poo-Bah in the Mikado.

  5. Mano Singham says

    Thanks. I remember when Tom Jones was in his prime, some members of the general public suggested that he had an operatic-quality voice. But a professional opera voice coach said “With a lot of work he might make it but he’s nowhere close now” or words to that effect.

    Most of us do not understand how demanding opera is. I am always amazed that they can belt it out night after night.

  6. HP says

    I don’t actually “like” opera (scare quotes intentional), in that I don’t usually seek it out, but if you’re in the audience for an opera performed by the best-in-class artists, holy crap, it’s a transcendental experience. Recordings (including YouTube and TV) don’t do it justice. There’s an amazing subjective experience that occurs when unamplified human voices reach across space to grab you, and implicate you in transformative emotions.

  7. otrame says

    That is true, and it doesn’t have to be opera. It happened to me once, when I got dragged to a performance of Cats (which I really didn’t like at all) in San Antonio, on a night when 3 out of 4 of the starring roles were performed by their understudies (flu season). The young woman who sang Memories (a song I don’t especially like) blew the minds of the entire audience. I’ll never forget it. It was like an explosion. I couldn’t breathe. She got a standing ovation at the end of the song. That is the only time I’ve been to a Broadway-style musical, so I don’t know how common that is.

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