Interviews


Placido Domingo


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WHEN Life magazine called Placido Domingo "opera's version of the matinee idol," millions of women around the world agreed. The handsome tenor was born in Madrid (his name means "peaceful Sunday") but moved to Mexico while still a child. With his parents, who were zarzuela singers (zarzuela is a Spanish light-opera style), he was vocalizing on stage by the age of seven. A student of voice and piano, he auditioned for an opera as a baritone, and on the advice of the judges, became a tenor.

Domingo made his operatic debut in Rigoletto with Mexico City's National Opera; a year later, in Monterrey, Mexico, he performed his first major role, as Alfredo in La Traviata. His U.S. debut was in the role of Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor at the Dallas Civic Opera, and he sang with the Hebrew National Opera in Tel-Aviv from 1962 to 1964. Domingo's superb pipes and warm, extroverted stage presence first won over Big Apple fans in 1965 when he starred in Madama Butterfly at the New York City Opera, and the next year at the Metropolitan Opera in a concert performance of Cavalleria Rusticana. But it wasn't until 1968 that the great lyric tenor made his formal Met debut, as Maurice in Adrianna Lecouvreur, which established him as a principal member of the company.

Domingo's love of the spotlight, and his enormous repertoire--which includes some ninety operas, thirty of which he knows well enough to perform at a moment's notice--takes him to the world's greatest concert halls, including the Staatsoper in Vienna, Milan's La Scala opera house and London's Covent Gardens. Of all of the operas under his long belt, he's particularly identified with the parts of Hoffman, Cavaradissi, and Otello. It was in the latter role that the dynamic Spaniard enjoyed the honor of singing at La Scala's 100th anniversary, in 1987; the following year, he soloed coast-to-coast with Zubin Mehta on the televised New York Philharmonic's New Year's Eve gala. Also noteworthy is Perhaps Love, his 1981 album of duets with folk singer John Denver: though the New York Times complained that Denver's songs "are not really [Domingo's] metier," the album went gold. Domingo achieved even greater mainstream commercial success on his collaborations with his Three Tenors mates, Jose Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti during the nineties. Their 1994 concert recording sold more than ten million copies, creating throngs of new opera fans in the process.

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