Plácido Domingo was born near the Barrio de Salamanca section of Madrid, Spain, and moved to Mexico at age eight with his family, who ran a zarzuela company. Domingo was often asked to perform with his parents' company when they needed a child role. He studied piano at first privately and later at the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico City.
In 1957, Domingo made his first professional appearance performing with his mother in a concert at Mérida, Yucatán. He made his opera debut performing in Manuel Fernández Caballero's zarzuela, Gigantes y cabezudos, singing a baritone role. At that time, he was working with his parents' zarzuela company, taking parts in baritone roles and as an accompanist for other singers. Among his first performances was a minor role in the first Mexican production of My Fair Lady where he was also the assistant conductor and assistant coach. The company made 185 performances which included a production of Lehár's The Merry Widow where he performed as either Camille or Danilo.
In 1959, Domingo auditioned for the Mexico National Opera as a baritone but was then asked to sight-read some arias and lines in the tenor range. Finally he was accepted in the National Opera as a tenor comprimario and as a tutor for other singers. He provided backup vocals for Los Black Jeans in 1958, a rock-and-roll band lead by César Costa. He learned piano and conducting, but made his stage debut acting in a minor role in 1959 (May 12) at the Teatro Degollado in Guadalajara as Pascual in Marina. It was followed by Borsa in Rigoletto (with Cornell MacNeil and Norman Treigle also in the cast), Padre Confessor (Dialogues of the Carmelites) and others.
In addition, he played piano for a ballet company to supplement his income. Domingo also played piano for a program on Mexico cultural television which was newly founded at that time. The program consisted of excerpts from zarzuelas, operettas, operas, and musical comedies. He acted in a few small parts while at the theater in such plays by Federico García Lorca, Luigi Pirandello, and Anton Chekhov.
In 1961, he made his operatic debut in a leading role as Alfredo in La traviata at Monterrey and later in the same year, his debut in the United States with the Dallas Civic Opera where he played the role of Arturo in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor opposite Joan Sutherland as the title role. In 1962, he returned to Texas to play the role of Edgardo in the same opera with Lily Pons at the Fort Worth Opera. 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 stay for two and a half years, singing 280 performances of 12 different roles.
In June 1965, after finishing his contract with Hebrew National Opera, Domingo went for an audition at the New York City Opera and scheduled to make his New York debut as Don Jose in Bizet's Carmen but his debut came earlier when he was offered to fill in for an ailing tenor at the last minute in Puccini's Madama Butterfly. On June 17, 1965, Domingo made his New York debut as B F Pinkerton at the New York City Opera. In February 1966, he sang the title role in the US premiere of Ginastera's Don Rodrigo at the New York City Opera, with much acclaim. The performance also marked the opening of the City Opera's new home at Lincoln Center.
He official debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York occurred on September 28, 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 of Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci in 1966. Since then, he has opened the season at the Metropolitan Opera 21 times, surpassing the previous record of Enrico Caruso by four. 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, and at Covent Garden in 1971, and has now sung at practically every other important opera house and festival worldwide. In 1971, he played the role Mario Cavaradossi in Puccini's Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera and continued with the same role for many times. He has played this role more than any other tenor.
Throughout the years, Domingo has also turned his hand to conducting opera (as early as La traviata on October 7, 1973, at New York City Opera) as well as, occasionally, symphonic orchestras. 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 the whole 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 did benefit concerts for the victims and released an album of one of the events.
Throughout 1990s until today, Domingo continued performing in many of the same but also new operas, among them Wagner's Parsifal and Mozart's Idomeneo as the title role, Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia as Figaro, Wagner's Die Walküre as Siegmund, Lehár's The Merry Widow as Danilo and Alfano's Cyrano de Bergerac as Cyrano. Between the middle of 1990 to the early of 2008 only, he has added 38 new roles into his repertoire covering opera in six different languages (English, Italian, French, German, Russian and Spanish). The latest was the Italian opera by George Frideric Handel, Tamerlano.
Also see: Domingo's complete repertoire.
Giving him even greater international recognition outside of the world of opera, he participated in The Three Tenors concert at the opening of the 1990 World Cup 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. On August 24, 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.
He holds a world record for the longest ovation on the operatic stage with 101 curtain calls and 80 minutes non-stop applause after performing Otello, Verdi's operatic version of Shakespeare's Othello, as the Moor of Venice in Vienna on July 30, 1991. In 2006, Domingo recorded an album Italia Ti amo, dedicated himself to Neapolitan and Italian songs, which include Stanislao Gastaldon's "Musica Prohibita" and the famous "Core N’Grato" by Salvatore Cardillo accompanied by Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Eugene Kohn.
In what has been called his 'final career move', Plácido Domingo announced on January 25, 2007 that in 2009 he would take on one of Verdi's most demanding baritone roles, the Doge of Genoa, Simon Boccanegra, in the opera of the same name. He would, however, continue to sing tenor roles beforehand and afterwards.
From 1990 to 2008, Domingo has received many awards and honors for his effort in music, benefit concerts and charity. On August 21, 2007, in Mexico City, a two meters tall statue and weighs about 300 kg (660 lbs) was build in his honor. On March 23, 2008, the New Orleans City Council honors his contribution at the Gala Benefits Concert by naming the city theatre's stage, the "Plácido Domingo stage". In April 2008, he was voted as the greatest tenor in history in BBC Music Magazine judged by 16 renowned opera critics.
On March 15, 2009, The Metropolitan Opera will pay tributes to Domingo's 40th anniversary with the company with the on-stage gala dinner at the Met’s 125th anniversary, after his debut in Adriana Lecouvreur as Maurizio opposite Renata Tebaldi on September 28, 1968
At age 16 in 1958, Plácido Domingo married a fellow piano student, and his first son, José Dominguez was born within the year. However, the marriage didn't last long, the couple separated shortly thereafter. In 1962, Plácido Domingo married Marta Ornelas, a lyric soprano from Veracruz, Mexico, whom he met during his conservatory days. 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 Jr born in 1965 and Alvaro Maurizio born in 1968. After a period of time living in Israel, he and his family resided in Teaneck, New Jersey. During vacations, he usually spends his time with family in their vacation home in Acapulco, Mexico.
In August 2005, EMI Classics released a new studio recording of Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde in which Domingo sings the title role of Tristan. A review of this recording, headlined "Vocal perfections", that appeared in the August 8, 2005 issue of The Economist begins with the word "Monumental" and ends with the words, "a musical lyricism and a sexual passion that make the cost and the effort entirely worthwhile". It characterized his July 2005 performance of Siegmund in Wagner's Die Walküre at Covent Garden as "unforgettable" and "luminous". The review also remarks that Domingo is still taking on roles that he has not previously performed.
New recordings that have been released in the first half of 2006 include studio recordings of Puccini's Edgar, Isaac Albéniz's Pepita Jiménez, as well as a selection of Italian and Neapolitan songs, titled Italia ti amo (all three with Deutsche Grammophon). Amongst many television appearance in many countries over the years (a large number for charitable purposes), Domingo appeared as the star act in the New Orleans Opera Association's A Night For New Orleans with Frederica von Stade and Elizabeth Futral, in March 2006. The concert was to raise funds for the rebuilding of the city.
Domingo has appeared in numerous opera films, among them are Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's Madama Butterfly, Francesco Rosi's Carmen (Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording), Gianfranco de Bosio's Tosca with Raina Kabaivanska, Brian Large's Tosca with Catherine Malfitano (Emmy Award), Franco Zeffirelli's Otello with Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Cavalleria rusticana & Pagliacci, and 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 Live at the Met telecasts and broadcasts. In 2007, Domingo had a cameo in "The Homer of Seville", an episode of The Simpsons which revolves around Homer Simpson becoming an opera singer. In his cameo, Domingo sang briefly. Domingo appeared on The Cosby Show Season 5 as Alberto Santiago, a colleague of Dr Cliff Huxtable. He is also sang as the operatic moon in 2001 film Moulin Rouge!.
He is the executive producer of the critically acclaimed 1998 Mexican film, The Other Conquest, produced by his son Alvaro, in which Domingo also performs the original aria "Mater Aeterna", composed by Samuel Zyman.
The first Christmas concert proved to be a rousing success, being seen worldwide by several hundred million people. Plácido Domingo returned to Vienna for many more equally successful Christmas in Vienna concerts, performing with many of music's greatest luminaries and his friends from the music industry, such as Dionne Warwick, Charles Aznavour, Sissel Kyrkjebø, Sarah Brightman, Riccardo Cocciante, Patricia Kaas, Luciano Pavarotti, Tony Bennett, and many others.
|Year||#||Title||Composer||Role||Debut date||Opera house /|
|1959||1||Rigoletto||Verdi||Borsa||September 23, 1959||Palacio de Bellas Artes||Mexico City|
|2||Dialogues of the Carmelites||Poulenc||Chaplain||October 21, 1959||Palacio de Bellas Artes||Mexico City|
|1960||3||The Merry Widow||Lehár||Danilo,|
|1960||Palacio de Bellas Artes||Mexico City|
|4||Turandot||Puccini||Altoum||September 11, 1960||Teatro de la Ciudad||Monterrey|
|5||Turandot||Puccini||Pang||October 1, 1960||Teatro de la Ciudad||Monterrey|
|6||Lucia di Lammermoor||Donizetti||Normanno||October 5, 1960||Teatro de la Ciudad||Monterrey|
|7||La traviata||Verdi||Gastone||October 8, 1960||Teatro de la Ciudad||Monterrey|
|8||Carmen||Bizet||Remendado||October 15, 1960||Teatro de la Ciudad||Monterrey|
|9||Otello||Verdi||Cassio||October 17, 1960||Teatro de la Ciudad||Monterrey|
|1961||10||La traviata||Verdi||Alfredo||May 19, 1961||Teatro de la Ciudad||Monterrey|
|11||El Ultimo sueno||Vázquez||Enrique||May 28, 1961||Palacio de Bellas Artes||Mexico City|
|12||Amelia goes to the ball||Menotti||Lover||June 28, 1961||Palacio de Bellas Artes||Mexico City|
|July 2, 1961||Palacio de Bellas Artes||Mexico City|
|August 8, 1961||Palacio de Bellas Artes||Mexico City|
|August 15, 1961||Palacio de Bellas Artes||Mexico City|
|16||Tosca||Puccini||Spoletta||August 21, 1961||Palacio de Bellas Artes||Mexico City|
|17||Madama Butterfly||Puccini||Goro||September 15, 1961||Palacio de Bellas Artes||Mexico City|
|18||Tosca||Puccini||Cavaradossi||September 30, 1961||Palacio de Bellas Artes||Mexico City|
|1962||19||La bohème||Puccini||Rodolfo||March 4, 1962||Palacio de Bellas Artes||Mexico City|
|20||Così fan tutte||Mozart||Ferrando||May 10, 1962||Palacio de Bellas Artes||Mexico City|
|21||Adriana Lecouvreur||Cilea||Maurizio||May 17, 1962||Palacio de Bellas Artes||Mexico City|
|22||Trittico Francescano||Refice||October 1, 1962||Teatro Degollado||Guadalajara|
|23||Madama Butterfly||Puccini||Pinkerton||October 7, 1962||Teatro Isauro Martínez||Torreón|
|24||Lucia di Lammermoor||Donizetti||Edgardo||November 26, 1962||Fort Worth Opera||Fort Worth|
|1963||25||Carmen||Bizet||Don José||June 25, 1963||Israeli Opera House||Tel Aviv|
|26||Don Giovanni||Mozart||Don Ottavio||September 21, 1963||Israeli Opera House||Tel Aviv|
|27||Faust||Gounod||Faust||December 3, 1963||Israeli Opera House||Tel Aviv|
|1964||28||Les pêcheurs de perles||Bizet||Nadir||January 21, 1964||Israeli Opera House||Tel Aviv|
|29||Eugene Onegin||Tchaikovsky||Lenski||September 5, 1964||Israeli Opera House||Tel Aviv|
|1965||30||Cavalleria rusticana||Mascagni||Turiddu||January 21, 1965||Israeli Opera House||Tel Aviv|
|31||Samson and Delilah||Saint-Saëns||Samson||July 30, 1965||Chautauqua Opera||Chautauqua|
|32||Les contes d'Hoffmann||Offenbach||Hoffmann||September 7, 1965||Palacio de Bellas Artes||Mexico City|
|1966||33||La Mulata de Córdoba||Mancayo||Sandi,|
|January 1, 1966||Gran Teatre del Liceu||Barcelona|
|34||Don Rodrigo||Ginastera||Don Rodrigo||February 22, 1966||New York City Opera||New York|
|35||Andrea Chénier||Giordano||Andrea Chénier||March 3, 1966||New Orleans Opera||New Orleans|
|36||Hippolyte et Aricie||Rameau||Hippolyte||April 6, 1966||Boston Opera House||Boston|
|37||Pagliacci||Leoncavallo||Canio||August 9, 1966||Metropolitan Opera||New York|
|38||The Barber of Seville||Rossini||Almaviva||September 16, 1966||Teatro Degollado||Guadalajara|
|39||Anna Bolena||Donizetti||Lord Percy||November 15, 1966||Metropolitan Opera||New York|
|1967||40||Il tabarro||Puccini||Luigi||March 8, 1967||Metropolitan Opera||New York|
|41||Aida||Verdi||Radames||May 11, 1967||Hamburg State Opera||Hamburg|
|42||Don Carlo||Verdi||Don Carlo||May 19, 1967||Vienna State Opera||Vienna|
|43||Un ballo in maschera||Verdi||Riccardo||May 31, 1967||Berlin State Opera||Berlin|
|1968||44||Lohengrin||Wagner||Lohengrin||January 14, 1968||Hamburg State Opera||Hamburg|
|45||Manon Lescaut||Puccini||Des Grieux||February 15, 1968||Connecticut Opera||Hartford|
|46||Il trovatore||Verdi||Manrico||March 14, 1968||New Orleans Opera||New Orleans|
|1969||47||Rigoletto||Verdi||Il Duca||January 2, 1969||Hamburg State Opera||Hamburg|
|48||La forza del destino||Verdi||Don Alvaro||January 18, 1969||Hamburg State Opera||Hamburg|
|49||Manon||Massenet||Des Grieux||February 20, 1969||Metropolitan Opera||New York|
|50||Turandot||Puccini||Calaf||July 16, 1969||Verona Arena||Verona|
|51||Ernani||Verdi||Ernani||December 7, 1969||Teatro alla Scala||Milan|
|1970||52||Oberon||Weber||Hüon||March, 1970||Bayerischer Rundfunk studio||Studio|
|53||La Gioconda||Ponchielli||Enzo||May 14, 1970||Teatro Real||Madrid|
|54||Roberto Devereux||Donizetti||Devereux||October 15, 1970||Metropolitan Opera||New York|
|1971||55||Der Rosenkavalier||R. Strauss||Italian singer||March, 1971||Studio|
|56||I Lombardi alla prima crociata||Verdi||Oronte||July, 1971||Royal Philharmonic, |
|57||Luisa Miller||Verdi||Rodolfo||November 4, 1971||Metropolitan Opera||New York|
|1972||58||Giovanna d'Arco||Verdi||Carlo VII||August, 1972||Studio|
|1973||61||Francesca da Rimini||Zandonai||Paolo||March 22, 1973||Metropolitan Opera||New York|
|62||L'Africaine||Meyerbeer||Vasco da Gama||November 3, 1973||War Memorial Opera House||San Francisco|
|1974||63||I Vespri Siciliani||Verdi||Arrigo||April 9, 1974||Palais Garnier||Paris|
|65||Roméo et Juliette||Gounod||Roméo||September 28, 1974||Metropolitan Opera||New York|
|66||La fanciulla del West||Puccini||Dick Johnson||November 26, 1974||Teatro Regio di Torino||Turin|
|68||Otello||Verdi||Otello||September 28, 1975||Hamburg State Opera||Hamburg|
|72||Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg||Wagner||Walther von Stolzing||March, 1976||Studio|
|73||Le Cid||Massenet||Don Rodrigue||March 8, 1976||Metropolitan Opera||New York|
|74||L'amore dei tre re||Montemezzi||Avito||July, 1976||Studio|
|76||Fedora||Giordano||Loris||February 15, 1977||Gran Teatre del Liceu||Barcelona|
|77||Werther||Massenet||Werther||December 18, 1977||Bavarian State Opera||Munich|
|1978||78||La damnation de Faust||Berlioz||Faust||January, 1978||Studio|
|1979||79||Le Villi||Puccini||Roberto||June, 1979||Studio|
|80||Requiem||Berlioz||Tenor part||June, 1979||Studio|
|81||Béatrice et Bénédict||Berlioz||Bénédict||July, 1979||Studio|
|82||Il Giuramento||Mercadante||Viscardo||September 9, 1979||Vienna State Opera||Vienna|
|1980||83||El Poeta||Torroba||José de Espronceda||June 19, 1980||Teatro Real||Madrid|
|1981||84||Norma||Bellini||Pollione||September 21, 1981||Metropolitan Opera||New York|
|87||Les Troyens||Berlioz||Enée||September 26, 1983||Metropolitan Opera||New York|
|1986||88||Die Fledermaus||J. Strauss||Alfred||April, 1986||Studio|
|89||Goya||Menotti||Goya||November 15, 1986||Washington National Opera||Washington|
|1989||92||Die Frau ohne Schatten||R. Strauss||Der Kaiser||March, 1989||Studio|
|1990||93||Man of La Mancha||Leigh||Don Quixote||June, 1990||Studio|
|1991||94||The Flying Dutchman||Wagner||Erik||February, 1991||Studio|
|95||Parsifal||Wagner||Parsifal||March 14, 1991||Metropolitan Opera||New York|
|1992||96||The Barber of Seville||Rossini||Figaro||February, 1992||Studio|
|97||El Gato Montés||Penella||Rafaele Ruiz||August 7, 1992||Seville Opera||Seville|
|98||Die Walküre||Wagner||Siegmund||December 19, 1992||Vienna State Opera||Vienna|
|1993||99||Stiffelio||Verdi||Stiffelio||October 21, 1993||Metropolitan Opera||New York|
|1994||100||Doña Francisquita||Vives||Fernando||February, 1994||Studio|
|101||La Verbena de la Paloma||Bretón||Julian||April, 1994||Studio|
|102||Il Guarany||Gomes||Pery||June 5, 1994||Bonn Opera House||Bonn|
|103||Idomeneo||Mozart||Idomeneo||November 1, 1994||Metropolitan Opera||New York|
|104||Hérodiade||Massenet||Jean||November 8, 1994||War Memorial Opera House||San Francisco|
|Verdi||Adorno||January 19, 1995||Metropolitan Opera||New York|
|1996||107||La Tabernera del Puerto||Sorozábal||Leandro||1996||Studio|
|Verdi||Adorno||June 28, 1997||Royal Opera House||London|
|109||Divinas Palabras||Abril||Lucero||October 18, 1997||Teatro Real||Madrid|
|1998||110||Le prophète||Meyerbeer||Jean van der Leyden||May 21, 1998||Vienna State Opera||Vienna|
|111||Faust Symphony||Liszt||Tenor part||June, 1998||Studio|
|112||La Dolores||Bretón||Lázaro||July, 1998||Studio|
|1999||113||Das Lied von der Erde||Mahler||Tenor part||February, 1999||Studio|
|114||Misa Tango||Bacalov||Tenor part||February, 1999||Studio|
|115||The Queen of Spades||Tchaikovsky||Hermann||March 18, 1999||Metropolitan Opera||New York|
|117||Merlin||Albéniz||King Arthur||July, 1999||Orquesta Nacional de España,|
|118||Margarita la tornera||Chapí||Don Juan de Alarcón||December 11, 1999||Teatro Real||Madrid|
|2000||119||La Gran Via||Chueca||Caballero de Gracía||January, 2000||Studio|
|120||The Merry Widow||Lehár||Danilo||February 17, 2000||Metropolitan Opera||New York|
|121||La battaglia di Legnano||Verdi||Arrigo||June 30, 2000||Royal Opera House||London|
|2001||122||La Revoltosa||Chapí||Felipe||January, 2001||Studio|
|2002||123||Sly||Wolf-Ferrari||Christopher Sly||April 1, 2002||Metropolitan Opera||New York|
|2003||124||Luisa Fernanda||Torroba||Vidal Hernando||June 18, 2003||Teatro alla Scala||Milan|
|125||Nicholas and Alexandra||Drattell||Rasputin||September 14, 2003||Los Angeles Opera||Los Angeles|
|2004||126||Tristan und Isolde||Wagner||Tristan||December, 2004||EMI Abbey Road Studio 1,|
|2005||127||Cyrano de Bergerac||Alfano||Cyrano||May 13, 2005||Metropolitan Opera||New York|
|2006||128||The First Emperor||Tan||Emperor Qin||December 21, 2006||Metropolitan Opera||New York|
|2007||129||Iphigénie en Tauride||Gluck||Oreste||November 27, 2007||Metropolitan Opera||New York|
|2008||130||Tamerlano||Handel||Bajazet||March 26, 2008||Teatro Real||Madrid|
Domingo has received numerous awards and honors, including:
|My First Forty Years||Alfred A. Knopf||ISBN 0394523296||256||Plácido Domingo|
|Opera 101: A Complete Guide to |
Learning and Loving Opera
|Hyperion||ISBN 0786880252||494||Fred Plotkin,|
Plácido Domingo (intro)
|Christmas With Plácido Domingo:|
Trumpets Sound And Angels Sing
|Alfred Publishing Company||ISBN 0895243210||80||Plácido Domingo,|
Milton Okun (editor)
|Bajo el cielo español|
(Under the Spanish Sky)
|Warner Brothers Publications||ISBN 0769200249||84||Plácido Domingo (Recorder),|
Carol Cuellar (Compiler)
|Plácido Domingo - Por Amor||Hal Leonard Corporation||ISBN 0711972583||104||Plácido Domingo|
|Plácido Domingo (Great Voices Series):|
My Operatic Roles
|Baskerville Publishers, Incorporated||ISBN 1880909618||319||Helena Matheopoulos,|
|Leoncavallo: Life and Works||Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc||ISBN 0810858738|
|Konrad Claude Dryden,|
Plácido Domingo (intro)
|So When Does the Fat Lady Sing?||Hal Leonard Corporation||ISBN 1574671626||173||Michael Walsh,|
Plácido Domingo (intro)