Plácido Domingo

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This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Domingo and the second or maternal family name is Embil.
Plácido Domingo
Plácido Domingo, 2008.jpg
Domingo speaking at the National Endowment for the Arts Opera Honors on 31 October 2008 in Washington, D.C.
Born (1941-01-21) January 21, 1941 (age 74)
Madrid, Spain
Nationality Spanish
Citizenship Spain
Occupation Tenor, conductor
Years active 1957–present
Spouse(s) Ana María Guerra Cué (1957—1958)
Marta Domingo (1962–present)
Children 3

José Plácido Domingo Embil (Spanish pronunciation: [xoˈse ˈplaθiðo ðoˈmiŋɡo emˈbil]; born 21 January 1941),[1] known as Plácido Domingo, is a Spanish tenor, conductor and arts administrator. He has recorded over a hundred complete operas and is well-known for his versatility, regularly performing in Italian, French, German, Spanish, English and Russian in the most prestigious opera houses in the world. Although primarily a lirico-spinto tenor for most of his career, especially popular for his Cavaradossi, Hoffmann, Don José, and Canio, he quickly moved into more dramatic roles, becoming the most acclaimed Otello of his generation.[2][3] In the early 2010s, he transitioned from the tenor repertory into almost exclusively baritone parts, most notably Simon Boccanegra. He has performed 146 different roles.

Unusually for a classical singer, Domingo has achieved significant success as a crossover artist, especially in the genres of Latin and popular music. In addition to winning fourteen Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards, several of his records have gone silver, gold, platinum and multi platinum. His first pop album, Perhaps Love (1981), spread his fame beyond the opera world. The title song, performed as a duet with country and folk singer John Denver, has sold almost four million copies[4] and helped lead to numerous television appearances for the tenor. He also starred in many cinematically released and televised opera movies, particularly under the direction of Franco Zeffirelli. In 1990, he began singing with fellow tenors Luciano Pavarotti and José Carreras as part of The Three Tenors. The first Three Tenors album went multi platinum with sales in excess of three million in the United States alone.[5]

Growing up working in his parent's zarzuela company in Mexico, Domingo has since regularly promoted this form of Spanish light opera. He also increasingly conducts operas and concerts and is currently the general director of the Los Angeles Opera in California. He was initially the artistic director and later general director of the Washington National Opera from 1996-2011. He has been involved in numerous humanitarian works, as well as efforts to help young opera singers, including starting and running the international singing competition, Operalia.

Biography and career[edit]

Early years[edit]

Plácido Domingo (1979)

Plácido Domingo was born on 21 January 1941 in the Retiro district of Madrid, Spain.[6] In 1949, just days before his eighth birthday, he moved to Mexico with his family. His parents, both singers, had decided to start a zarzuela company there after a successful tour of Latin America. Soon after arriving in Mexico, Domingo won a singing contest for boys, and his parents occasionally recruited him and his sister for children's roles in their zarzuela productions.[7] Domingo studied piano from a young age, at first privately and later at the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico City, which he entered when he was fourteen. At the conservatory, he also attended conducting classes taught by Igor Markevitch and studied voice under Carlo Morelli, the brother of Renato Zanelli. The two brothers were famous practitioners of both baritone and tenor roles.[8] Domingo's conservatory classes constituted the entirety of his formal vocal instruction; he never studied privately with a singing teacher.[9]

In 1957, at age sixteen, Domingo made his first professional appearance, accompanying his mother on the piano at a concert at Mérida, Yucatán. The same year he made his major zarzuela debut in Manuel Fernández Caballero's Gigantes y cabezudos (es), singing a baritone role.[10] At that time, he was working with his parents' zarzuela company, taking primarily baritone and occasionally tenor roles and acting as an accompanist for other singers.[11] Among his earliest performances was a minor role in the first Latin American production of My Fair Lady where he was also the assistant conductor and assistant coach.[12] While he was a member, the company gave 185 performances of the musical in various cities in Mexico. He also provided song arrangements and backup vocals for Los Black Jeans in the late 1950s, a rock-and-roll band led by César Costa.[13]

In 1959, Domingo auditioned for the Mexico National Opera at the Palacio de Bellas Artes as a baritone, but was then asked to sight-read the tenor aria "Amor ti vieta" from Fedora. He was accepted at the National Opera as a tenor comprimario and as a tutor for other singers.[14] On 12 May 1959 at the Teatro Degollado in Guadalajara, he appeared in the baritone role (sometimes sung by basses) of Pascual in Emilio Arrieta's Marina (es). In what he considered his operatic debut, Domingo followed his Marina performances with the minor role of Borsa in Verdi's Rigoletto on 23 September at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Veteran American baritones Cornell MacNeil and Norman Treigle performed with him in the production. Soon after this, he appeared as the Padre Confessor in Dialogues of the Carmelites, Altoum and Pang in Turandot, and Normanno and Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor, among other small parts. While at the National Opera, he also appeared in a production of Lehár's operetta, The Merry Widow, in which he alternated as Camille and Danilo (both originally created as tenor roles, although the latter is often sung by baritones).

The young Domingo played piano for a ballet company to supplement his income as well as playing piano for a program on Mexico's newly founded cultural television station. The program consisted of excerpts from zarzuelas, operettas, operas, and musical comedies. He acted in a few small parts while at the theater in plays by Federico García Lorca, Luigi Pirandello, and Anton Chekhov.[15]


In 1961, Domingo made his operatic debut in a leading role as Alfredo in La traviata at the Teatro María Teresa Montoya in Monterrey. Later the same year, he made his debut in the United States with the Dallas Civic Opera, where he sang the role of Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor opposite Joan Sutherland in the title role and Ettore Bastianini as Enrico. In 1962, he returned to Texas to sing the role of Edgardo in the same opera with Lily Pons at the Fort Worth Opera.[16] It would be the coloratura soprano's final operatic performance. That November Domingo sang the second tenor role of Cassio to Mario del Monaco's celebrated Otello in Hartford, Connecticut. At the end of 1962, he signed a six-month contract with the Israel National Opera in Tel Aviv, but later extended the contract and stayed for two and a half years, singing 280 performances of 12 different roles.

In June 1965, after finishing his contract in Tel Aviv, Domingo auditioned at the New York City Opera. He was hired to make his New York debut as Don José in Bizet's Carmen with the company, but his debut came earlier than expected on 17 June 1965 when he filled in for an ailing tenor at the last minute in Puccini's Madama Butterfly. In February 1966, he sang the title role in the U.S. premiere of Ginastera's Don Rodrigo at the New York City Opera, to much acclaim. The New York Times review noted: "Mr. Domingo was as impressive as ever—a big, burly, large-voiced singer who looks exactly as one would visualize a hero from Gothic Spain."[17] The performance also marked the opening of the City Opera's new home at Lincoln Center.

His official debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York occurred on 28 September 1968 when he substituted for Franco Corelli, in Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur singing with Renata Tebaldi. Before Adriana Lecouvreur, he had sung in performances by the Metropolitan Opera at Lewisohn Stadium of Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci in 1966. Since then, he has opened the season at the Metropolitan Opera 21 times, more than any other singer, surpassing the previous record of Enrico Caruso by four.[18] He has appeared with the company every season since 1968-9. He made his debut at the Vienna State Opera in 1967; at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1968; at both La Scala and San Francisco Opera in 1969; at the Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company in 1970; and at Covent Garden in 1971. In 1975, Domingo made his debut at the prestigious Salzburg festival, singing the title role in Don Carlos in an all-star-cast with Herbert von Karajan conducting. His partners on stage were Nicolai Ghiaurov (as Filippo II), Piero Cappuccilli (as Marchese di Posa), Mirella Freni (as Elisabetta) and Christa Ludwig (as Principessa Eboli). Thereafter Domingo frequently returned to Salzburg for a number of operas, as well as for several concert performances. He has now sung at practically every important opera house and festival worldwide.

In 1971, he sang Mario Cavaradossi in Puccini's Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera, and continued to sing that part for many years, singing it more than any other role.[19] In September 1975, Domingo debuted in the title role of Verdi's Otello in Hamburg. It soon became his signature role and one of operas he performed most frequently (over 200 times).[20] He recorded the part three times in the studio and appeared in four officially released filmed versions of the opera. Oscar-winning Shakespearean actor, Laurence Olivier, declared after seeing the tenor in the role: "Domingo plays Othello as well as I do and he has that voice."[21]

Domingo singing at a concert at the Obelisco in Buenos Aires in 2011

Domingo has also conducted operas—beginning on 7 October 1973 with La traviata at the New York City Opera with Patricia Brooks—and occasionally symphony orchestras as well. In 1981 Domingo gained considerable recognition outside of the opera world when he recorded the song "Perhaps Love" as a duet with the late American country/folk music singer John Denver. In 1987, he and Denver joined Julie Andrews for an Emmy Award-winning holiday television special, The Sound of Christmas, filmed in Salzburg, Austria.

On September 19, 1985, the biggest earthquake in Mexico's history devastated part of the Mexican capital. Domingo's aunt, uncle, his nephew and his nephew's young son were killed in the collapse of the Nuevo León apartment block in the Tlatelolco housing complex. Domingo himself labored to rescue survivors. During the next year, he performed benefit concerts for the victims and released an album of one of the events.


Changing repertoire[edit]

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s until today, Domingo has continued adding new roles to his growing repertoire, while at the same time dropping earlier parts. The 1990s were the start of rapid change in the types of roles the tenor performed. During this decade he sang his last Cavaradossi, Don Carlo, Don José, Gustavo/Riccardo, Hoffmann, and Alvaro, among others, and he began instead to expand the breadth of his roles more substantially beyond the standard Italian and French repertory. In particular, he increased his involvement in Wagnerian operas. Although he had already sung Lohengrin and recorded a few operas by the composer, he did not perform any of Wagner's works frequently onstage until he debuted as Parsifal in 1991 and Siegmund in 1992. He continued to sing these roles for almost two decades, including at the Bayreuth Festival.

For the first time in over three decades, Domingo debuted in a Mozart opera, Idomeneo, in 1994 at the Met. During the nineties, he also appeared in the early Verdi opera, Stiffelio, the Brazilian Il Guarany, and the French grand operas, Hérodiade and Le prophète, all of which are rarely performed. Toward the end of the decade, he added his first Russian-language opera, Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades (although he had performed Eugene Onegin in translation while in Israel early in his career).

In the 2000s, he sang his last performances of some of the most successful operas from early in his career: Andrea Chenier, Samson et Dalila, Otello, La Fanciulla del West, Fedora, Pagliacci, and Adriana Lecouvreur. In the twenty-first century, however, he has focused mostly on new roles. Early in the 2000s he sang the role of Arrigo in two concert performances of Verdi's rare La battaglia di Legnano and debuted in Wolf-Ferrari's Sly, an opera that his Three Tenors colleague José Carreras had recently revived from obscurity. Domingo himself worked to popularize Franco Alfano's infrequently performed Cyrano de Bergerac a few years later. Shifting musical styles again, he appeared in the eighteenth-century operas Iphigénie en Tauride and Tamerlano late in the decade.

Additionally, Domingo created several new roles in modern operas, such as the title role in Tan Dun's 2006 opera The First Emperor at the Metropolitan Opera, which was broadcast worldwide into movie theaters as part of the Met Live in HD series. In September 2010, he created the role of the poet Pablo Neruda in the world première of Daniel Catán's opera based on the film Il Postino at the Los Angeles Opera.[22] During the 2011-2012 season, Domingo sang Neptune in the Metropolitan Opera's world premiere performance of Jeremy Sams' The Enchanted Island. A pastiche of Baroque opera with story and characters drawn from Shakespeare's The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream, a performance of the production was telecast on PBS' Great Performances at the Met.

High profile appearances[edit]

Giving him even greater international recognition outside of the world of opera, Domingo participated in The Three Tenors concert at the eve of the 1990 FIFA World Cup Final in Rome with José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti. The event was originally conceived to raise money for the José Carreras International Leukemia Foundation and was later repeated a number of times, including at the three subsequent World Cup finals (1994 in Los Angeles, 1998 in Paris, and 2002 in Yokohama). Alone, Domingo again made an appearance at the final of the 2006 World Cup in Berlin, along with rising stars Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón. Before the 2014 World Cup final, he performed with pianist Lang Lang and soprano Ana María Martínez in Rio de Janeiro.[23]

On 24 August 2008, Domingo performed a duet with Song Zuying, singing Ài de Huǒyàn (The Flame of Love) at the 2008 Summer Olympics closing ceremony in Beijing.[24][25][26] The Beijing Olympics was the second Olympics at which he performed; he sang the Olympic Hymn at the closing ceremonies of the Barcelona Olympics.[27] At the Olympic games that followed that, he would meet Sissel Kyrkjebø, who performed the Olympic Hymn at both the opening and closing ceremonies at those games.

A life-long football fan, Domingo has been a vocal supporter of Real Madrid C.F., his home-town team. In 2002, he wrote the club's anthem, "Himno del Centenario del Real Madrid". The song was presented live at the Bernabeu Stadium during celebrations of the football club's 100 year anniversary. On 13 May 2012, Domingo performed during Real Madrid's season-ending celebrations, when the team won their 32nd Spanish league title.

Plácido Domingo (2014)

In 2002, he made a guest appearance on the song "Novus", the closing track on Santana's album Shaman. Domingo sang before Benedict XVI, during the pope's visit to Nationals Park and the Italian embassy in Washington D.C. on 16 and 17 April 2008. On 15 March 2009, the Metropolitan Opera paid tribute to Domingo's 40th and the company's 125th anniversaries with a gala performance and onstage dinner.[28] On 29 August 2009, he sang "Panis Angelicus" at the funeral mass of Senator Ted Kennedy in the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston, Massachusetts.[29] In March 2011, Domingo cancelled an engagement in Buenos Aires at the Teatro Colón in support of the theatre's musicians, who were on strike.[30]

As an opera company director[edit]

Domingo began an affiliation with the Washington National Opera in 1986, when he appeared in its world premiere production of Menotti's Goya. This was followed by performances in a production of Tosca in the 1988/89 season. Beginning in the 1996/97 season, he took on the role of Artistic Director, bringing new life to the company's productions through his many connections to singers throughout the world and his own annual appearances in one role each season.[31] One example of his ability to bring new singers to the stage were those by the then up-and-coming Anna Netrebko as Gilda in Rigoletto during the 1999/2000 season. In 2003 Domingo became General Director and his contract was extended through the 2010-2011 season.

Parallel to Domingo's management of the Washington company, he had been Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Opera since 2000. He assumed the position of General Director of the company in 2003. On 20 September 2010, he announced that he would renew his contract as General Director through 2013.[32] A week later he announced that he would not renew his contract as General Director of the Washington National Opera beyond its June 2011 expiration date. Reaction to this included The Washington Post 's comments on his accomplishments:

Domingo's goal was to make the WNO an internationally regarded company. At the beginning of his tenure, he lifted the opera to a new level, bringing in more international stars and big-name productions - including José Carreras in Wolf-Ferrari's Sly, Mirella Freni singing opposite Domingo in Fedora, and Renée Fleming in Lucrezia Borgia. And his commitment to American opera meant that the WNO presented the second or third productions of a number of important works: Maw's Sophie's Choice, Bolcom's A View From the Bridge, Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire.[33]

Domingo attempted to quash criticism in East Coast newspapers that he was taking on too much when the singer gave an interview in the Los Angeles Times in which he restated his long-time motto, "When I rest, I rust".[34]

Taking on baritone roles[edit]

Plácido Domingo announced in 2007 that two years later he would take on one of Verdi's most demanding baritone roles, singing the title role in Simon Boccanegra. His debut performance in the part occurred at the Berlin State Opera on 24 October, followed by 29 other performances during the 2009-2010 season at major opera houses around the world, including the Met and the Royal Opera House in London.[35]

After the success of Boccanegra, Domingo has performed other baritone roles including the character of Rigoletto in Verdi's Rigoletto in August 2010 at Reignwood Theatre in Beijing. In March 2012, for the first time he sang the baritone role of the Cenobite monk Athanaël in Massenet's Thaïs, his 139th role. Again, in 2011 he undertook the role of Rigoletto in a live television broadcast in Europe which was shot in real locations in Mantua.

Francesco Meli and Plácido Domingo (center right) in Il trovatore at the Salzburg Festival in 2014

He appeared as Doge Francesco Foscari in Verdi's I due Foscari in a production directed by Thaddeus Strassberger for the Los Angeles Opera in September 2012, in Valencia in early 2013, and at Covent Garden in late 2014. In March 2013, at the Metropolitan Opera, he appeared for the first time as Giorgio Germont in Verdi's La Traviata.[36] The following year, he sang Giacomo in Verdi's Giovanna d'Arco in Salzburg. Later in 2014, he debuted as the Conte di Luna in Il trovatore in Berlin. The following season, he sang di Luna again at the Salzburg Festival with Anna Netrebko as Leonora, Marie-Nicole Lemieux as Azucena and Francesco Meli as Manrico. He first sang the title role of Verdi's Nabucco at Covent Garden in March-April 2013[37][38] and has since reprised it in St. Petersburg,[39] Beijing, Verona,[40] and Vienna. In 2015, he made his debut in the title role of Verdi's Macbeth in Berlin, as well as Don Carlo in Ernani in New York.[41]

Family and personal life[edit]

He was born to Plácido Francisco Domingo Ferrer (8 March 1907 – 22 November 1987) [42] and Pepita Embil Echaníz (28 February 1918 – 28 August 1994),[43] two Spanish zarzuela stars who nurtured his early musical abilities. Domingo's father was half Aragonese and half Catalan, while his mother was a Basque from Gipuzkoa. His father began as a violinist performing for opera and zarzuela orchestra. He soon also took on baritone roles in zarzuela. Decades later, however, his promising singing career ended after he damaged his voice by performing while suffering from a cold. Domingo's mother was an established singer who made her zarzuela debut at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. She met her husband at age 21 while performing in Federico Moreno Torroba's Sor Navarra. In 1946 Moreno Torroba and Domingo's parents formed a zarzuela company and travelled frequently to Mexico. His parents later stayed permanently in Mexico and established their own zarzuela troupe, the Domingo-Embil Company.[44] In addition to their son, they also had a daughter, Maria José Domingo de Fernandez (1943–2015).

On 29 August 1957 at age 16, Plácido Domingo married a fellow piano student, Ana María Guerra Cué (1938–2006) and his first son, José Plácido Domingo Guerra (Pepe), now a photographer,[45] was born on 16 June 1958.[46] However, the marriage did not last long, with the couple separating shortly thereafter. On 1 August 1962, Domingo married Marta Ornelas (born 1935[citation needed]), a lyric soprano from Veracruz, Mexico, whom he met during his conservatory days.[47] In the same year, Marta had been voted "Mexican Singer of the Year", but she gave up her promising career to devote her time to her family. They have two sons, Plácido Francisco (Plácido Jr.), born 21 October 1965, and Alvaro Maurizio, born 11 October 1968.[48]

After a period of time living in Israel, Domingo and his growing family moved to Teaneck, New Jersey in the 1960s.[49][50][51] He later acquired residences in Manhattan and Barcelona. Keeping his apartment in New York, he currently also has a house in his native Madrid. During breaks in his work schedule, he usually spends time with family at his vacation home in Acapulco, Mexico.[52][53]

In March 2010 he underwent surgery for colon cancer.[54] In July 2013, he was admitted to a hospital in Madrid after suffering a pulmonary embolism.[55] He was released on July 14, and was "expected to make a full recovery".[56]


Complete operas and recital discs[edit]

Domingo has made over 200 recordings, most of which are full-length operas, often recording the same role more than once. As a teenager, he first appeared in very small parts on the Spanish-language original cast versions of the musicals My Fair Lady (1959) and Redhead (1960). In 1968, he released his first solo album, Recital of Italian Operatic Arias (also known as Bel Canto Domingo). The album, conducted by Nello Santi, received the Grand Prix du Disque. The following year Domingo recorded his first full opera in the studio, Il trovatore, with Leontyne Price and Sherrill Milnes. He would record with Milnes several more times, in both full operas and recital discs. Domingo followed Il trovatore with a steady stream of complete recorded operas from the 1970s through the early years of the next century. Starting with Il tabarro in 1970 and ending with Edgar in 2006, Domingo has recorded all of Puccini's operatic roles for tenor. Among his albums is a box set of every tenor aria Verdi composed, including several rarely performed versions in languages different from the original operas and written only for specific performances. He has also recorded the vocal parts in many symphonic works and has conducted on some of his albums.

In August 2005, EMI Classics released a highly anticipated and publicized studio recording of Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde in which Domingo sang the title role of Tristan. A review, headlined "Vocal perfections", in the 8 August 2005 issue of The Economist called the recording "monumental" and praised it for having "a musical lyricism and a sexual passion that make the cost and the effort entirely worthwhile". The review also characterized Domingo's July 2005 performance of Siegmund in Wagner's Die Walküre at Covent Garden as "unforgettable" and "luminous". More recently Domingo has appeared with Angela Gheorghiu on a recording of Fedora, an opera in which he often appeared onstage, and as the baritone in a live version of Giovanna d'Arco with Anna Netrebko. In September 2011, aged 70, he signed an exclusive record contract with Sony Classics.[57] His first operatic recording for the label was a collection of Verdi baritone arias, which won a Latin Grammy Award.

Crossover albums[edit]

In addition to his classical recordings, Domingo has released numerous crossover albums. His output of non-operatic recordings accelerated after his pop album, Perhaps Love (1981), went gold and eventually platinum.[58] His other recordings of popular music include My Life for a Song (1983), Save Your Nights for Me (1985), and the British gold record, Be My Love (1990).[59] His English-language version of "Besame mucho" from My Life for a Song received a Grammy nomination for Best Latin Pop Performance in 1984. The following year he won a Grammy in the same category for his collection of Ernesto Lecuona songs, Always in My Heart (Siempre en mi corazón). (He won a second Grammy the same year for Carmen under the baton of Lorin Maazel.) In 2012, he recorded Songs with Josh Groban, Susan Boyle, and jazz singer Harry Connick, Jr., among others.

Since the early 1980s, Domingo has released several Latin albums, including two featuring the music of Mexican songwriter, Agustín Lara. He devoted two more of his albums, Adoro (1982) and 100 años de Mariachi (1999), solely to Mexican music. 100 años de Mariachi, a rancheras collection, went platinum in the United States and gold in Mexico.[58][60] He later recalled that, as a fan of mariachi music since boyhood, the Grammy he won for 100 años de Mariachi was the award that meant the most to him of all he has received.[61] Other of his albums have incorporated music from across Latin America (including Brazil) and Spain. He has also recorded some sacred music, a collection of Argentine tangos, an album of Broadway show tunes, selections from Viennese operettas, and several zarzuelas, as well as zarzuela romanzas and duets. Domingo has appeared as a guest artist on albums by Michael Bolton, Yanni, Santana, Sissel, Jennifer Rush and Katherine Jenkins.

Appearances on film and television[edit]

Domingo at the 81st Academy Awards in 2009

Domingo has appeared in numerous opera films, among them are Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's Madama Butterfly; Gianfranco de Bosio's Tosca with Raina Kabaivanska; Giuseppe Patroni Griffi's Tosca with Catherine Malfitano (Emmy Award);[62] Franco Zeffirelli's Cavalleria rusticana & Pagliacci — all made for television — and, for theatrical release, Francesco Rosi's Carmen (Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording); Zeffirelli's Otello with Katia Ricciarelli; and Zeffirelli's La traviata (with Teresa Stratas, which received a Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording).

He has also appeared on television in the 1978 La Scala production of Puccini's Manon Lescaut which marked the Scala debut of Hungarian soprano Sylvia Sass, as well in zarzuela evenings, and several Live from the Metropolitan Opera telecasts and broadcasts. In 2007, Domingo had a cameo role in The Simpsons episode "Homer of Seville", which revolves around Homer Simpson becoming an opera singer. In his cameo, he sang briefly. Domingo appeared on The Cosby Show Season 5 as Alberto Santiago, a colleague of Dr. Cliff Huxtable. In 1989, the international television series Return Journey featured Domingo returning to his home city of Madrid reflecting on life there whilst recording an album of Zarzuela arias for EMI. On the 1993 Academy Awards telecast, he performed the song, "Beautiful Maria of My Soul," from the movie The Mambo Kings, which had received a nomination for Best Original Song. The tenor was the first Spaniard to perform at an Academy Awards ceremony. He had previously presented the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film with Faye Dunaway at the 57th Academy Awards in 1985.

Domingo was the executive producer of the critically acclaimed 1998 Mexican film The Other Conquest, produced by his son Alvaro and directed by Salvador Carrasco, in which Domingo also sang the original aria "Mater Aeterna", composed by Samuel Zyman with lyrics by Carrasco. He was also heard performing the song "In Pace", during the closing credits of Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (1996). In 2008, Domingo provided the voice of the long-haired Chihuahua named Montezuma in Disney's Beverly Hills Chihuahua. He also appeared as Manolo's great-grandfather in the animated film The Book of Life in 2014.

Christmas in Vienna[edit]

In 1990, the idea for a Christmas-themed concert, involving the collaboration of Domingo, fellow operatic tenor and friend José Carreras, and pop music legend Diana Ross was first brought up. Vienna was chosen in 1992 to host the event due to its reputation as a capital of music and the particular charm of Austria during Christmas time. The Wiener Symphoniker under the direction of maestro Vjekoslav Šutej provided the orchestral music, and the Gumpoldskirchen Children's Choir provided choral vocals. On 23 December 1992, the first in what would turn out to be a series of Christmas in Vienna concerts was seen worldwide by several hundred million people. Plácido Domingo returned to Vienna for many more Christmas in Vienna concerts, performing with stars and friends of both pop and classical music, including Dionne Warwick, Charles Aznavour, Sissel Kyrkjebø, Michael Bolton, Sarah Brightman, Charlotte Church, Natalie Cole, Riccardo Cocciante, Patricia Kaas, Luciano Pavarotti, Tony Bennett and others.


Domingo has sung 146 roles in Italian, French, German, English, Spanish and Russian.[63] His main repertoire however is Italian (Otello; Cavaradossi in Tosca; Don Carlo; Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut; Dick Johnson in La fanciulla del West; Radames in Aida); French (Don José in Carmen; Samson in Samson and Delilah; Hoffmann in Les Contes d'Hoffmann); and German (Lohengrin, Parsifal, and Siegmund in Die Walküre). He has created original roles in seven world premieres of operas, Vásquez's El último sueño, Moreno Torroba's El poeta, Menotti's Goya, García Abril's Divinas palabras, Drattell's Nicholas and Alexandra, Tan Dun's The First Emperor, and Catán's Il Postino, as well as one pasticcio, The Enchanted Island. He also performed in the U.S. premieres of Don Rodrigo and Cyrano de Bergerac. He continues to add more roles to his repertoire, most recently performing as Carlo in the early Verdi opera Ernani in March-April 2015.

Awards and honors[edit]

Plácido Domingo has received many awards and honors for his achievement in the field of music and in recognition of his many benefit concerts and contributions to various charities. In 1978, when Domingo was only 37, the city of Madrid dedicated a commemorative plaque at his birthplace at 34 Calle Ibiza near the Buen Retiro Park. The singer won his first Grammy Award in 1971 and has gone on to win eight more, as well as five Latin Grammy awards including an award for Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year.[64] A Kammersänger of the Vienna State Opera and the recipient of numerous honorary doctorates, he has received other major awards that include being made an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2002. He has also received the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, 1st class (1992);[65] Grand Decoration of Honour in Silver for Services to the Republic of Austria (2007);[66] Commander of the French Légion d'honneur; Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle; Spanish Prince of Asturias Award for Arts (1991); the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom; and in 2011, a Medal of Honour from Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman.[67] The first Birgit Nilsson Prize was awarded to him in 2009. In 2012, Domingo was voted into Gramophone's first Hall of Fame.[68]


Date Title Publisher ISBN Pages Author(s)
My First Forty Years Alfred A. Knopf ISBN 0-394-52329-6 256 Plácido Domingo
Opera 101: A Complete Guide to
Learning and Loving Opera
Hyperion ISBN 0-7868-8025-2 494 Fred Plotkin,
Plácido Domingo (intro)
Christmas With Plácido Domingo:
Trumpets Sound And Angels Sing
Alfred Publishing Company ISBN 0-89524-321-0 80 Plácido Domingo,
Milton Okun (editor)
Bajo el cielo español
(Under the Spanish Sky)
Warner Brothers Publications ISBN 0-7692-0024-9 84 Plácido Domingo (Recorder),
Carol Cuellar (Compiler)
Plácido Domingo — Por Amor Hal Leonard Corporation ISBN 0-7119-7258-3 104 Plácido Domingo
The Zarzuela Companion Scarecrow Press ISBN 0810844478 352 Christopher Webber,
Plácido Domingo (foreword)
Plácido Domingo (Great Voices Series):
My Operatic Roles
Baskerville Publishers, Incorporated ISBN 1-880909-61-8 319 Helena Matheopoulos,
Plácido Domingo
Leoncavallo: Life and Works Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc ISBN 0-8108-5873-8
ISBN 0-8108-5880-0
Konrad Claude Dryden,
Plácido Domingo (intro)
So When Does the Fat Lady Sing? Hal Leonard Corporation ISBN 1-57467-162-6 173 Michael Walsh,
Plácido Domingo (intro)

Humanitarian works and initiatives[edit]

A statue of Domingo in Mexico City in recognition of his contributions to 1985 Mexico City earthquake victims and his artistic works
  • In June 2010 Domingo became President of Europa Nostra, the Voice of Cultural Heritage in Europe.
  • On 4 March 2006, Domingo sang at the Gala Benefit Concert, "A Night For New Orleans" at the New Orleans Arena to help rebuilding the city after it was hit by Hurricane Katrina. At the gala, he made a statement: "If music be the food of love", then "MUSIC IS THE VOICE OF HOPE!" .[69] On 23 March 2008, the New Orleans City Council named the city theatre's stage in the Mahalia Jackson Theatre in Louis Armstrong Park, the "Plácido Domingo stage" as the honour for his contribution at the Gala Benefits Concert. The Gala collected $700,000 for the city recovery fund.[70]
  • In 1986, he performed at benefit concerts to raise funds for the victims of 1985 Mexico City earthquake and released an album of one of the events. On 21 August 2007, as recognition to his support to 1985 Mexico City earthquake victims as well as his artistic works, a statue in his honor, made in Mexico City from keys donated by the people, was unveiled. The statue is the work of Alejandra Zúñiga, is two meters tall, weighs about 300 kg (660 lbs) and is part of the "Grandes valores" (Great values) program.[71][72]
  • Domingo supports the Hear the World initiative as an ambassador to raise awareness for the topic of hearing and hearing loss.[73]
  • In 1993 he founded Operalia, The World Opera Competition, an international opera competition for talented young singers. The winners get the opportunities of being employed in opera ensembles around the world.[74] Domingo has been instrumental in giving many young artists encouragement, (and special attention) as in 2001, when he invited New York tenor, Daniel Rodríguez to attend the Vilar/Domingo Young Artists program to further develop his operatic skills.
  • On 21 December 2003, Domingo made a performance in Cancún to benefit the Ciudad de la Alegria Foundation, the foundation that provides assistance and lodging to people in need, including low-income individuals, orphans, expectant mothers, immigrants, rehabilitated legal offenders, and the terminally ill.[75]
  • On 27 June 2007, Domingo and Katherine Jenkins performed in a charity concert in Athens to raise funds to aid the conflict in Darfur. The concert was organized by Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders.
  • In 2 October 2007, Domingo joined several other preeminent figures in entertainment, government, the environment and more, as one of the users of the BMW Hydrogen 7, designed to build support for hydrogen as a viable alternative to fossil fuels.[76]
  • In 2011, Domingo was invited by FIFA president Sepp Blatter to join a council intended to clean up the football governing body, which had been accused of taking bribes from countries that wanted to stage the World Cup.[78]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopedia of World Biography, Thomson Gale, 2006, The Concise Grove Dictionary of Music, Oxford University Press, 1994, Warrack, J. and West, E. The Oxford Dictionary of Opera, OUP, 1992 all give the year of birth as 1941.
  2. ^ Macy, Laura Williams (2008). The Grove Book of Opera Singers. Oxford University Press. pp. 127–8. ISBN 0195337654. Domingo is widely regarded as the leading lirico spinto tenor of the late 20th century, a consummate musician and an actor of exceptional passion. His singing is always marked by exemplary intelligence and taste. While he has undertaken a wide range of roles, he became particulary identified with Verdi's Otello... 
  3. ^ Matheopoulos; with Domingo 2000, p. 19. "Otello is a dramatic part and Domingo a lirico spinto tenor. But from the beginning it was clear that this was an ideal role for him..."
  4. ^ Butler, Susan (21 June 2008). "Milt Okun: Music Legend Milt Okun Honored for a Lifetime of Vision". Billboard: 34. 
  5. ^ "American certifications – "Three Tenors, The"". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2015-07-08. 
  6. ^ Plácido Domingo: “Nací a diez minutos del Real, en la calle Ibiza” (spanish)
  7. ^ Domingo 1983, pp. 10-13.
  8. ^ Domingo 1983, pp. 14-9.
  9. ^ Domingo 1983, pp. 18.
  10. ^ Kettle, Martin (25 January 2007). "A tenor no more: Domingo to make switch to baritone". The Guardian. 
  11. ^ Domingo 1983, pp. 20.
  12. ^ Domingo 1983, pp. 20-2.
  13. ^ Domingo 1983, pp. 27.
  14. ^ Domingo 1983, pp. 23.
  15. ^ Domingo 1983, pp. 25-6.
  16. ^ American Masters
  17. ^ Schonberg, Harold C. (10 February 1967). "Opera: Orchestra Is Star". New York Times. p. 31. 
  18. ^ Volpe 2006, p. 193.
  19. ^ PBS, American Masters: Plácido Domingo
  20. ^ Gad, Georges (February 2001). "Plácido Domingo l'apothéose [French]". Le Monde de la Musique. 
  21. ^ Swan 1982.
  22. ^ "About Us: Plácido Domingo" (Domingo's page on LA Opera's website), Retrieved 1 July 2013
  23. ^ "Placido Domingo to Sing Before World Cup Final". Hollywood Reporter. AP. 12 June 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  24. ^ Curtain closes on unforgettable Beijing Games
  25. ^ Domingo and Chinese singer Song perform together at Beijing Olympics closing
  26. ^ Beijing 2008: Singers Domingo and Song perform
  27. ^ Placido Domingo - Olimpic Closing Ceremony Barcelona 1992 on YouTube
  28. ^ Domingo's 40th Anniversary with The MET
  29. ^ James Rowley and Alison Fitzgerald, "Nation’s Political Elite Gathers for Kennedy Farewell", Bloomberg News, 29 August 2009. Accessed 29 August 2009.
  30. ^ "Plácido Domingo actuará al aire libre en Buenos Aires, pero no en el Teatro Colón". El Día. 2011-03-23. Retrieved 2015-01-12. 
  31. ^ Phillips-Matz, p. 53
  32. ^ David Ng and Mike Boehm (20 September 2010). "Plácido Domingo renews contract with L.A. Opera through 2013". L.A. Times. Retrieved 13 November 2010. 
  33. ^ Anne Midgette, "Domingo will not renew D.C. opera contract", The Washington Post, 28 September 2010
  34. ^ Reed Johnson, "Plácido Domingo's juggling act: The superstar rejects recent suggestions that his busy life is affecting L.A. Opera and his other commitments" The Los Angeles Times, 21 February 2010
  35. ^ Domingo's performance calendar
  36. ^ Metropolitan Opera, 14 March 2013, performance information (PDF)
  37. ^ Hugo Shirley, "Plácido Domingo's Operalia Winners", Opera, London, September 2012, pp. 1153 - 1154.
  38. ^ Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Nabucco production 2013
  39. ^ Mariinsky Theatre, 4 May 2013, performance information
  40. ^ Arena di Verona, 4 July 2013, performance information
  41. ^
  42. ^ "Placido Domingo Ferrer, Baritone, 80", (obit.) The New York Times, 26 November 1987
  43. ^ "Pepita Embil Domingo; Soprano and Tenor's Mother, 76" (obit.), The New York Times, 1 September 1994
  44. ^ Domingo biography at
  45. ^ Expone fotografías José Plácido Domingo, hijo del tenor, en la Ciudad de México. Retrieved on 2013-02-05.
  46. ^ His son José from first marriage
  47. ^ Date of marriage
  48. ^ His two sons with Marta Ornelas
  49. ^ Matheopoulos; with Domingo 2003, p. 16
  50. ^ "Domingo: Iron man of opera", The Cincinnati Post, 23 September 1998. Accessed 7 August 2007. "Domingo vividly recalls his Met debut — four days earlier than planned. His parents were visiting him and his wife, Marta, in Teaneck, N.J., and they'd just sat down to dinner when the phone rang and Rudolf Bing's voice inquired, 'How are you feeling, Placido?'"
  51. ^ Dobnik, Verena via Associated Press. "The Three Tenors return in drag for Domingo", Newsday, 28 September 2008. Accessed 29 September 2008. "Of Domingo's 126 career roles, he sang 45 at the Met since his debut on 28 September 1968. On that night, he drove himself from home in Teaneck, N.J., warming up in the car at the top of his lungs while a nearby motorist laughed. I asked him, 'Where are you going?', and he said, 'the Met'. And I said, 'Don't laugh, you are going to be hearing me.'"
  52. ^ Home in Acapulco from his biography by Helena Matheopoulos
  53. ^ Vacation home in Acapulco from
  54. ^ Adams, Stephen (8 March 2010). "Placido Domingo has colon cancer surgery". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  55. ^ Talbott, Chris (9 July 2013). "Placido Domingo In Hospital: Opera Singer Suffers Embolism In Spain". The Huffington Post (Nashville). 
  56. ^ Gelt, Jessica (14 July 2013). "Placido Domingo in high spirits after release from hospital". L.A. Times. 
  57. ^ "Placido Domingo Signs With Sony Classical". Billboard. 2011-09-22. Retrieved 2015-01-12. 
  58. ^ a b "American certifications – Placido Domingo". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2015-07-08. 
  59. ^ "British certifications – Placido Domingo". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2015-07-08.  Enter Placido Domingo in the field Search. Select Artist in the field Search by. Click Search
  60. ^ "Certificaciones – Domingo" (in Spanish). Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas. Retrieved 2015-07-08. 
  61. ^ "Mariachi: The Spirit of Mexico". WLIW21: WNET New York Public Media (PBS). WLIW21 Pressroom. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  62. ^ Emmy award 1993
  63. ^ Repertoire list
  64. ^ "Placido Domingo to be Honored as the 2010 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year" (Press release). Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. September 14, 2010. Retrieved November 8, 2010. 
  65. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question" (pdf) (in German). p. 930. Retrieved 11 March 2013. 
  66. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question" (pdf) (in German). p. 1826. Retrieved 11 March 2013. 
  67. ^ HM confers medals of honour on opera director, conductor | Oman Observer. Retrieved on 2012-05-10.
  68. ^ "Plácido Domingo (tenor, conductor and administrator)". Gramophone. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 
  69. ^ "A Night for New Orleans with Placido Domingo", 4 March 2006. Retrieved 1 July 2013
  70. ^ Bruce Eggler, "Local staged named for opera singer Placido Domingo", The Times-Picayune, 23 March 2008. Retrieved 1 July 2013
  71. ^ "México rinde homenaje a Plácido Domingo con una estatua de bronce" (In Spanish), El Pais, 21 August 2007. Retrieved 1 July 2013
  72. ^ "Awards" on Plácido Domingo's website
  73. ^ Hear the World website on Retrieved 30 June 2013
  74. ^ Domingo describes his Operalia program. Retrieved 1 July 2013
  75. ^ Performance in Cancún to benefit the Ciudad de la Alegria Foundation
  76. ^ Received BMW Hydrogen 7
  77. ^ Theodore P. Mahne, "Star Emcee Patricia Clarkson Shares in the Excitement over Tonight's Opera Gala" in Times-Picayune (New Orleans), 2009 January 17, pp. C1, C3.
  78. ^ Owen Gibson (2011-06-06). "Sepp Blatter wants singer Plácido Domingo to join Fifa's wise men". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-01-12. 


External links[edit]

Biography, Interviews and Profiles