In separate interviews, Sanders and L.A. Opera Chairman and Chief Executive Marc Stern both said that in addition to his artistic leadership and his appearances onstage and in the pit of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Domingo's enormous value to the company derives from his ability to raise funds, attract star performers through his network of friends and contacts, and lend his international brand-name recognition to the company's marketing and promotional endeavors.
In addition, Stern said, Domingo and his wife, Marta, have personally contributed more than $1 million to L.A. Opera.
"We believe he's being used in his highest and best use," Sanders said. "He is our icon, he's the face of this company. What company wouldn't die, including the Met, to have him as the face of the company?"
Stern said Domingo attends nearly every board meeting and communicates regularly with music director James Conlon; Christopher Koelsch, vice president of artistic planning; and Stephen D. Rountree, the company's chief operating officer. But the company's management is structured in a way that doesn't require him to be physically present "every minute" to be effective, Stern said.
"He doesn't have to be sitting at a desk for him to do what he needs to do for us," Stern said.
Sanders offered a pragmatic view of the various demands on Domingo's time. "Frankly, if we don't place a marker on his time, somebody else will," Sanders said. "Because he likes it. The man is going to do what he wants to do."
For the foreseeable future, that appears to be the case. On April 15, Ring Festival LA officially kicks off in support of L.A. Opera's $32-million production of Wagner's complete four-opera "Ring" cycle, one of Domingo's most cherished projects. On April 16, Domingo is scheduled to star in the first of several performances of "Simon Boccanegra" at La Scala in Milan.