Placido Domingo

Placido Domingo

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. In the early 2010’s, he transitioned from the tenor repertory into almost exclusively baritone parts, most notably Simon Boccanegra. He has performed 147 different roles.

Jose Placido Domingo Embil was born in the Barrio de Salamanca district of Madrid, Spain, being one of the most famous Spanish tenors and conductors of all time. He is famous for his powerful lyrical singing voice or for his lyrical-dramatic tenor voice, which allowed him to play even baritone roles.

In 1949, he moved together with his parents in Mexico where he privately studied piano, then canto and conducting art at the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico City. Placido’s first professional musical appearance was in 1957 in the company of his mother in a concert at Merida in Yucatan. For a period, he played baritone roles in Manuel Fernandez Caballero’s zarzuela, “Gigantes y cabezudos” and a minor role in the Mexican production of opera “My Fair Lady” by Loewe. With this company, he participated in over 185 performances among them, Lehar’s operetta, “The Merry Widow”.

In the period 1962-1965, together with his wife, soprano Marta Ornelas, Placido was employed in Israel, at the Tel Aviv Opera, where he participated in 280 performances. His international career began to rose since the successful appearance in New York City, in the opera “Don Rodrigo”, by Alberto Ginastera in 1966. Placido Domingo practically sang on all major stages of the world. He sang for the first time at the Opera of Chicago in 1968, at Teatro La Scala, Teatro Municipal de Santiago, at the San Francisco Opera in 1969, at Covent Garden in 1971 and at the Teatro Colón of Buenos Aires in 1972. He sang under the wand of conductors like Herbert von Karajan, Zubin Mehta and James Levine. Placido Domingo is considered the best tenor still in life. He sang in many languages such as: Italian, French, German, Spanish, English and Russian. He participated in the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Peking.

In the early 21st century, he intensified his work as a conductor. He conducted for the first time the “Traviata” on 7 October 1973 at the New York Opera. Placido had a special success with “Carmen” for the inauguration of the Universal Exposition in Seville in 1992. He conducted the Montreal Symphony Orchestra on 8 November 2005. He recorded in 1981 the song “Perhaps Love” in a duet with popular American folk and pop singer, John Denver.

Domingo appeared in six filmed operas, such as “Madama Butterfly”, directed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, “Carmen”, directed by Francesco Rossi, winner of a Grammy, “Tosca”, directed by Gianfranco de Bosio, as well as “Otello”, “Cavalleria rusticana & Pagliacci”, “La Traviata”, with Teresa Stratas, who received a Grammy award, all of the previous directed by Franco Zeffirelli.

Throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s until today, Domingo has continued adding new roles to his growing repertoire, while at the same time dropping earlier parts. The 1990’s 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.

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. 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.

Giving him greater international recognition outside of the world of opera, Domingo participated in “The Three Tenors” concert on 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. The recording of their first appearance together, Carreras, Domingo and  Pavarotti in Concert, went multi-platinum with sales in excess of three million in the United States alone, eventually outselling every previous classical album worldwide. Domingo and his colleagues won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Solo for the album. Four years after their first successful concert, around 1,3 billion viewers worldwide watched their televised second World Cup performance at Dodger Stadium. The recording of that event, “The Three Tenors in Concert” 1994, went platinum and multi-platinum in many countries, even reaching the number one spot on the UK Albums Chart. Without Pavarotti and Carreras, Domingo 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 in Rio de Janeiro with pianist Lang Lang and soprano Ana María Martínez, a winner of his Operalia competition and a frequent singing partner of his. In addition to these large-scale concerts, Domingo recorded the official song for the 1982 World Cup in Spain, “El Mundial”.

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