‘He’s the reason I’m working in opera,’ one of the stage managers told me in the middle of the 12-minute standing ovation for Plácido Domingo, ‘he’s the most generous artist there is.’ As she spoke, Plácido was pushed yet again to the front of the stage to acknowledge the applause on his own. His reluctance was genuine. He picked up some of the flowers raining down on him and threw them back, to the orchestra, to the audience. Backstage, he greeted everyone, literally everyone, but not in a rush — with real interest. A programme from his very first performance at Covent Garden — as Cavaradossi in Tosca in December 1971 — was signed: ‘Forty years on...’ ‘Have I talked to everyone?’ he asked after 20 minutes, still clad in the heavy, hot maroon robes of a Doge.