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Plácido Domingo

José Plácido Domingo Embil KBE (born January 21, 1941), better known as Plácido Domingo, is the world renowned operatic tenor. He is known for his versatile and strong voice that possesses a ringing and clear tone throughout its range. In addition to his singing roles, he has also taken on conducting opera performances as well as acting as the General Director of the Washington National Opera in Washington, DC and the Los Angeles Opera in California.

Biography and career

Plácido Domingo was born in Madrid, Spain, and moved to Mexico at age 8 with his family, who ran a zarzuela company. In Mexico City he studied music at the National Conservatory. 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, Padre Confessor (Le dialogue des Carmelites) and others. He made his operatic debut acting as a leading role at Monterrey as Alfredo in La Traviata and then in 1962 spent 2 and a half years with the Israel National Opera in Tel Aviv, singing 280 performances of 12 different roles.

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.

In what has been called his 'final career move', Placido Domingo announced on January 25, 2007 that in 2009 he would switch ranges to baritone by taking on one of Verdi's most demanding baritone roles, as the Doge of Genoa, Simon Boccanegra, in the opera of the same name.

Premiere performances and breadth of roles

In 1966, he sang the title role in the US premiere of Ginastera's Don Rodrigo at the New York City Opera, with much acclaim. He first performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York on September 28, 1968, in Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur, singing with Renata Tebaldi. (Since then, he has opened the season there 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.

Perhaps the most versatile of all living tenors, Domingo has sung 124 roles onstage to date (and as many as 128 roles when also counting recorded roles), ranging from Mozart to Ginastera. His main repertoire however is Italian (Otello, Il Trovatore, Don Carlo), French (Faust, Werther, Don José in Carmen, Samson in Samson et Dalila), and German (Lohengrin, Parsifal, and Siegmund in Die Walküre). He continues to add more operas to his repertoire, such as recently Tan Dun's The First Emperor at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Other achievements

  • 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.
  • In 1993 he also founded Operalia, an important international competition for young opera singers.
  • He is the General Director of two opera companies, the Washington National Opera and the Los Angeles Opera. His contracts in both Los Angeles and Washington DC have been extended through the 2010–2011 season.
  • Domingo has been instrumental in giving many young artists encouragement, (and special attention) as in 2001, when he invited New York tenor, Daniel Rodriguez to attend the Vilar/Domingo Young Artists program to further develop his operatic skills.
  • Domingo supports the Hear the World initiative as an ambassador to raise awareness for the topic of hearing and hearing loss.

Three Tenors

Giving him even greater international recognition outside of the world of opera, with José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti, he participated in The Three Tenors concert at the opening of the 1990 World Cup in Rome. 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.

Performances on film

See List of Domingo's opera recorded performances

Domingo has appeared in numerous opera films, among them:

  • 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, 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.

Recordings

See List of recordings by Plácido Domingo

He has made well over 100 recordings, most of which are full-length operas, often recording the same role more than once. Among these recordings is a boxed set of every tenor aria Verdi ever wrote, including several rarely-performed versions, in different languages from the original operas, which Verdi wrote for specific performances.

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.

Repertoire

From the first performance until today, Domingo has a repertoire of 128 roles onstage and studio (124 roles onstage ); not including 3 roles that he played at the same time in 1966. Below is his complete repertoire from 1959 until 2007. The list is sorted by chronological order; year, opera title, composer, role, debut date and city or location.

  • 1959

1. Rigoletto - Verdi; "Borsa"; 23-09-1959; Mexico City
2. Dialogues des Carmélites - Poulenc; "Chaplain"; 21-10-1959; Mexico City

  • 1960

3. The Merry Widow - Franz Lehár; "Danilo/Camille"; 1960; Mexico City
4. Turandot - Puccini; "Altoum"; 11-09-1960; Monterrey
5. Turandot - Puccini; "Pang"; 01-10-1960; Monterrey
6. Lucia di Lammermoor - Donizetti; "Normanno" ; 05-10-1960; Monterrey
7. La traviata - Verdi; "Gastone"; 08-10-1960; Monterrey
8. Carmen - Bizet; "Remendado" ; 15-10-1960; Monterrey
9. Otello - Verdi; "Cassio"; 17-10-1960; Monterrey

  • 1961

10. La traviata - Verdi; "Alfredo" ; 19-05-1961; Monterrey
11. El Ultimo sueno - Vázquez; "Enrique"; 28-05-1961; Mexico City
12. Amelia goes to the ball - Menotti; "Lover"; 28.-06-1961; Mexico City
13. Fedora - Giordano; "Désire", "Baron Rouvel"; 02-07-1961; Mexico City
14. Boris Godunov - Mussorgsky; "Simpleton", "Shuisky" ; 08-08-1961; Mexico City
15. Andrea Chenier - Giordano; "Abbé", "Incredibile" ; 15-08-1961; Mexico City
16. Tosca - Puccini; "Spoletta"; 21-08-1961; Mexico City
17. Madama Butterfly - Puccini; "Goro"; 15-09-1961; Mexico City
18. Tosca - Puccini; "Cavaradossi"; 30-09-1961 Mexico City

  • 1962

19. La bohème - Puccini; "Rodolfo" ; 04-03-1962; Mexico City
20. Cosi fan tutte - Mozart; "Ferrando"; 10-05-1962; Mexico City
21. Adriana Lecouvreur - Cilea; "Maurizio"; 17-05-1962; Mexico City
22. Trittico francescano - Refice; 01-10-1962; Guadalajara
23. Madama Butterfly - Puccini; "Pinkerton" ; 07-10-1962; Torreón
24. Lucia di Lammermoor - Donizetti; "Edgardo" ; 26-11-1962; Fort Worth

  • 1963

25. Carmen - Bizet; "Don José" ; 25-06-1963; Tel Aviv
26. Don Giovanni - Mozart; "Don Ottavio"; 21-09-1963; Tel Aviv
27. Faust - Gounod; "Faust"; 03-12-1963; Tel Aviv

  • 1964

28. Les Pêcheurs de Perles - Bizet; "Nadir" ; 21-01-1964; Tel Aviv
29. Eugene Onegin - Tchaikovsky; "Lenski" ; 05-09-1964; Tel Aviv

  • 1965

30. Cavalleria Rusticana - Mascagni; "Turiddu" ; 21-01-1965; Tel Aviv
31. Samson et Dalila - Saint-Saens; "Samson" ; 30-07-1965; Chautauqua
32. Les Contes d'Hoffmann - Offenbach; "Hoffmann" ; 07-09-1965; Mexico City

  • 1966

33. Carlota, Severino & La Mulata de Córdoba - "Sandi", "Moreno", "Moncayo" (3 tenor roles); 01-01-1966; Barcelona
34. Don Rodrigo - Ginastera; "Don Rodrigo" ; 22-02-1966; New York
35. Andrea Chénier - Giordano; "Andrea Chénier"  ; 03-03-1966; New Orleans
36. Hippolyte et Aricie - Rameau; "Hippolyte" ; 06-04-1966; Boston
37. Pagliacci - Leoncavallo; "Canio" ; 09-08-1966; New York
38. Il Barbiere di Siviglia - Rossini; "Almaviva"; 16-09-1966; Guadalajara
39. Anna Bolena - Donizetti; "Lord Percy" 15-11-1966; New York

  • 1967

40. Il tabarro - Puccini; "Luigi" ; 08-03-1967; New York
41. Aida - Verdi; "Radames" ; 11-05-1967; Hamburg
42. Don Carlo - Verdi; "Don Carlo"  ; 19-05-1967; Vienna
43. Un ballo in maschera - Verdi; "Riccardo" ; 31-05-1967; Berlin

  • 1968

44. Lohengrin - Wagner; "Lohengrin" ; 14-01-1968; Hamburg
45. Manon Lescaut - Puccini; "Des Grieux" ; 15-02-1968; Hartford
46. Il trovatore - Verdi; "Manrico" ; 14-03-1968; New Orleans

  • 1969

47. Rigoletto - Verdi; "Il Duca"; 02-01-1969; Hamburg
48. La forza del destino - Verdi; "Don Alvaro"; 18-01-1969; Hamburg
49. Manon - Massenet; "Des Grieux"; 20-02-1969; New York
50. Turandot - Puccini; "Calaf"; 16-07-1969; Verona
51. Ernani - Verdi; "Ernani" ; 07-12-1969; Milano

  • 1970

52. Oberon - Weber; "Hüon"; 03-1970; Studio
53. La Gioconda - Ponchielli; "Enzo" ; 14-05-1970; Madrid
54. Roberto Devereux - Donizetti; "Devereux" ; 15-10-1970; New York

  • 1971

55. Der Rosenkavalier - Strauss, R.; Italian Singer; 03-1971; Studio
56. I Lombardi alla prima crociata - Verdi; "Oronte"; 07-1971; Studio
57. Luisa Miller - Verdi; "Rodolfo" ; 04-11-1971; New York

  • 1972

58. Giovanna d'Arco - Verdi; "Carlo VII"; 08-1972; Studio
59. Los Claveles - Serrano; "Fernando"; 1972; Studio
60. La Dolorosa - Serrano; "Rafael"; 1972, Studio

  • 1973

61. Francesca da Rimini - Riccardo Zandonai; "Paolo" ; 22-03-1973; New York
62. L'Africaine - Meyerbeer; "Vasco da Gama"; 03-11-1973; San Francisco

  • 1974

63. I Vespri Siciliani - Verdi; "Arrigo"; 09-04-1974; Paris
64. Mefistofele - Boito; "Faust"; 07-1974; Studio
65. Roméo et Juliette - Gounod; "Roméo"; 28-09-1974; New York
66. La Fanciulla del West - Puccini; "Dick Johnson" 26-11-1974; Turin

  • 1975

67. La Navarraise - Massenet: "Araquil"; 1975; Studio
68. Otello - Verdi; "Otello" ; 28-09-1975; Hamburg

  • 1976

69. Gianni Schicchi - Puccini; "Rinuccio"; 1976; Studio
70. Louise - Charpentier; "Julien"; 1976; Studio
71. Macbeth - Verdi; "Macduff" ; 1976; Studio
72. Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Wagner; "Walther von Stolzing"; 03-1976 Studio
73. Le Cid - Massenet; "Don Rodrigue" ; 08-03-1976; New York
74. L'amore dei tre re - Italo Montemezzi; "Avito"; 07-1976; Studio

  • 1977

75. L'Elisir d'Amore - Donizetti; "Nemorino"; 1977; Studio
76. Fedora - Giordano; "Loris" ; 15-02-1977; Barcelona
77. Werther - Massenet; "Werther" ; 18-12-1977; Munich

  • 1978

78. La Damnation de Faust - Berlioz; "Faust"; 01-1978; Studio

  • 1979

79. Le villi - Puccini; "Roberto"; 06-1979; Studio
80. Requiem - Berlioz; Tenor part; 06-1979; Studio
81. Béatrice et Bénédict - Berlioz; "Bénédict"; 07-1979; Studio
82. Il Giuramento - Mercadante; "Viscardo" ; 09-09-1979; Vienna

  • 1980

83. El Poeta - Torroba; "José de Espronceda"; 19-06-1980; Madrid

  • 1981

84. Norma - Bellini; "Pollione"; 21-09-1981; New York

  • 1982

85. La rondine - Puccini; "Ruggero"; 1982; Studio
86. Nabucco - Verdi; "Ismaele" ; 05-1982; Studio
87. Les Troyens - Berlioz; "Enée" ; 26-09-1983; New York

  • 1986

88. Die Fledermaus - Strauss, J.; "Alfred" ; 04-1986; Studio
89. Goya - Menotti; "Goya" ; 15-11-1986; Washington

  • 1988

90. Iris - Mascagni; "Osaka"; 1988; Studio
91. Tannhäuser - Wagner; "Tannhäuser"; 04-1988; Studio

  • 1989

92. Die Frau ohne Schatten - Strauss, R.; "Der Kaiser"; 03-1989; Studio

  • 1990

93. Man of La Mancha - Leigh; "Don Quixote"; 06-1990; Studio

  • 1991

94. Der fliegende Holländer - Wagner; "Erik"; 02-1991; Studio
95. Parsifal - Wagner; "Parsifal" ; 14-03-1991; New York

  • 1992

96. Il Barbiere di Siviglia - Rossini; "Figaro"; 02-1992; Studio
97. El Gato Montés - Penella; "Rafaele Ruiz" ; 07-08-1992; Seville
98. Die Walküre - Wagner; "Siegmund" ; 19-12-1992; Vienna

  • 1993

99. Stiffelio - Verdi; "Stiffelio" ; 21-10-1993; New York

  • 1994

100. Dona Francisquita - Vives; "Fernando"; 02-1994; Studio
101. La Verbena de la Paloma - Tomás Bretón; "Julian"; 04-1994; Studio
102. Il Guarany - Carlos Gomes; "Pery" ; 05-06-1994; Bonn
103. Idomeneo - Mozart; "Idomeneo" ; 01-10-1994; New York
104. Hérodiade - Massenet; "Jean" ; 08.-11-1994; San Francisco
105. Luisa Fernanda - Torroba; "Javier" ; 1995; Studio
106. Simon Boccanegra (1881 version) Gabriele - Verdi; "Adorno" ; 19-01-1995; New York

  • 1996

107. La Tabernera del Puerto - Pablo Sorozábal; "Leandro"; 1996; Studio

  • 1997

108. Simon Boccanegra (1857 version) Gabriele - Verdi; "Adorno" ; 28-06-1997; London
109. Divinas Palabras - Garcia Abril; "Lucero"; 18-10-1997; Madrid

  • 1998

110. Le prophète - Meyerbeer; "Jean van der Leyden" ; 21-05-1998; Vienna
111. Faust Symphony - Liszt; Tenor part; 06-1998; Studio
112. La Dolores - Tomás Bretón; "Lázaro"; 07-1998; Studio

  • 1999

113. Das Lied von der Erde - Gustav Mahler; Tenor part; 02-1999; Studio
114. Misa Tango - Bacalov; Tenor part; 02-1999; Studio
115. Pique Dame - Tschaikowsky; "Hermann" ; 18-03-1999; New York
116. Fidelio - Beethoven; "Florestan"; 06-1999; Studio
117. Merlin - Albéniz; "King Arthur"; 07-1999; Studio
118. Margarita la Tornera - Chapí; "Don Juan de Alarcón"; 11-12-1999; Madrid

  • 2000

119. La Gran Via - Chueca, Valverde; "Caballero de Gracía"; 01-2000; Studio
120. The Merry Widow - Franz Lehár; "Danilo"; 17-02-2000; New York
121. La battaglia di Legnano - Verdi; "Arrigo"; 30-06-2000; London

  • 2001

122. La Revoltosa - Chapí; "Felipe"; 01-2001; Studio

  • 2002

123. Sly - Wolf-Ferrari; "Christopher Sly"; 01-04-2002; New York

  • 2003

124. Luisa Fernanda - Torroba; "Vidal Hernando"; 18-06-2003; Milan
125. Nicholas and Alexandra - Deborah Drattell; "Rasputin"; 14-09-2003; Los Angeles

  • 2004

126. Tristan und Isolde - Wagner; "Tristan"; 12-2004; Studio

  • 2005

127. Cyrano de Bergerac - Franco Alfano; "Cyrano"; 13-05-2005; New York

  • 2006

128. The First Emperor - Tan Dun; "Emperor Qin"; 21-12-2006; New York

Awards and honors

Domingo has received numerous awards and honors, including:

Grammy Award

  • 1971 - Principal Soloist for Best Opera Recording for Verdi: Aida
  • 1974 - Principal Soloist for Best Opera Recording for G. Puccini: La Bohème
  • 1983 - Principal Soloist for Best Opera Recording for Verdi: La Traviata
  • 1984 - Principal Soloist for Best Opera Recording for Bizet: Carmen
  • 1984 - Best Latin Pop Performance for Always in my Heart (Siempre en mir corazon)
  • 1988 - Principal Soloist for Best Opera Recording for Wagner: Lohengrin
  • 1990 - Best Classical Vocal Performance for Carreras-Domingo-Pavarotti in Concert
  • 1992 - Principal Soloist for Best Opera Recording for Strauss: Die Frau ohne Schatten
  • 2000 - Best Mexican-American Performance for 100 years of Mariachi

Latin Grammy Award

  • 2000 - Best Classical Album for T. Breton: La Dolores
  • 2001 - Best Classical Album for I. Albéniz: Merlin

Government and organization honors

France

  • Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur
  • Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur
  • Commandeur Arts et Lettres
  • Grande Medaille de la Ville de Paris
  • Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur – March 2002

Spain

  • Isabel la Católica
  • Premio Prinicipe de Asturias de las Artes - 1991
  • Gran Cruz de la Orden del Mérito Civil – September 2002

USA

  • Kennedy Center Honors – December 2000
  • The presendential Medal of Freedom – July 2002

Austria

  • Österreichisches Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst 1. Klasse
  • Kammersänger und Ehrenmitglied der Wiener Staatsoper
  • Goldenes Ehrenzeichen für Verdienste um das Land Wien – 2007

Other countries

  • Aguila Azteca (Mexico)
  • Capo dell’Ordine "Al Merito della Repubblica Italiana" Grande Ufficiale (Italy)
  • Grã Cruz da Ordem do Infante d’Henrique (Portugal)
  • Cavalliere di Malta (Malta)
  • Knight Commander of the British Empire (Great Britain) – October 2002
  • Order of the Cedars (Lebanon) - 2004

NPO

  • Unicef Socio de Honor (UNICEF)

Honorary Doctorate

  • Royal Northern College of Music, England (1982)
  • Philadelphia College of Performing Arts, USA (1982)
  • Oklahoma City University, USA (1984)
  • Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain (1989)
  • University of New York, USA (1990)
  • Georgetown University, USA (1992)
  • Washington College of Chestertown, USA (2000)
  • Anhuac University, Mexico (2001)
  • Chopin Music Academy, Poland (2003)
  • Oxford University, England (2003)

Other entertainment awards and appreciation

  • A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – 1993
  • Sociedad General de Autores Española (Best Lyric Singer of the Year 1997) for his role in the world premiere of "Divinas Palabras" - 1997
  • Association of Argentinian Music Critics (Best Male Singer in 1997) for “Samson and Dalila" - 1997
  • Baltika Grand Prix for Outstanding Achievement - June 1998
  • American Latina Media Arts (ALMA) Awards (Outstanding Performances By An Individual or Act in A Variety) - 1998
  • Hispanic Heritage Award for Arts - September 1999
  • Great Prize of the International Music Press - September 2000
  • The Ella Award - 2002
  • Two Classical BRIT Awards - 2006

Others

  • On August 21, 2007, as recognition to his support to 1985 Mexico City earthquake victims as well as his artistic works, a statue in his honor was made in Mexico City from keys donated by the people. 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.