The Three Tenors
One of the world's most famous tenors, Plácido Domingo has appeared in hundreds of opera performances, on music albums and in concert recordings. He has produced many gold and platinum releases and won numerous Grammy Awards. During the 1990s and early 2000s, he attained major popularity as a member of The Three Tenors, a highly successful trio consisting of Domingo, José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti. They performed at the World Cup FIFA in 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2002 and in a series of stadium concerts around the world. In addition to sold out concerts, the trio enjoyed a string of best selling recordings, including the Grammy winning “Carreras-Domingo-Pavarotti: The Three Tenors in Concert,” which holds a Guinness World Record for Best-Selling Classical Album. Making his first operatic performance as Alfredo in “La traviata” (1960), the Spanish born artist debuted his 128th opera role in March 2008 and has had more roles than any other tenor. He also served as an opera conductor and the General Director of the Washington National Opera in Washington, D.C. and the Los Angeles Opera in California. His contract with Washington will end in June 2011, but he will continue his service with Los Angeles until 2013.
In addition to multiple Grammy Awards, Domingo has received government and organization honors, honorary Doctorates and other entertainment awards. He was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Live Theatre in 1993 and received an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) from Queen Elizabeth II in October 2002. He earned a John F. Kennedy Center Honor in 2000 and the Star of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary in October 2005, to name just a few prestige honors.
Domingo has written many books, including “My First Forty Years” (1983), “Christmas with Plácido Domingo: Trumpets Sound and Angels Sing” (1997), “Bajo el cielo español” (“Under the Spanish Sky,” 1997), “Plácido Domingo - Por Amor” (1999) and “lácido Domingo (Great Voices Series): My Operatic Roles” (2003, with Helena Matheopoulos).
Domingo has been married twice. He has sons named José Plácido Domingo Guerra (mother: Ana María Guerra), Plácido Jr. (mother: Marta Ornelas) and Alvaro Maurizi (mother: Marta Ornelas).
Childhood and Family:
Plácido Domingo was born José Plácido Domingo Embil on January 21, 1941, in Madrid, Spain, to Spanish singers Plácido Francisco Domingo Ferrer (March 8, 1907 - November 22, 1987) and Pepita Embil Echaníz (February 28, 1918 - September 28, 1994). His father also played violin for orchestras. After his family moved to Mexico in 1950, his parents formed their own troupe called the Domingo-Embil Company. Plácido also has a sister named Maria José Domingo de Fernandez.
Young Plácido received early musical training from his parents. He went on to take piano lesson privately and later studied vocal technique, piano and conducting at the Mexico City Conservatory in Mexico City.
On August 29, 1957, Plácido married fellow piano student Ana María Guerra. The young couple welcomed a son they named José Plácido Domingo Guerra (Pepe) on June 16, 1958. They, however, divorced soon after. Plácido married Marta Ornelas (born 1935), a soprano from Veracruz, Mexico, on August 1, 1962. Their first child, a son named Plácido Francisco (Plácido Jr.), was born on October 21, 1965. Their second son, Alvaro Maurizio, followed on October 11, 1968. The family once lived in Israel before eventually settling in Teaneck, New Jersey. They commonly spend their holidays in their vacation home in Acapulco, Mexico.
On March 9, 2010, Plácido underwent colon cancer surgery at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City.
Plácido Domingo made his professional debut at age 16 when he performed in a concert with his mother. His first operatic performance was in Manuel Fernández Caballero's “Gigantes y cabezudos,” where he sang baritone. His early credits included the first Mexican production of “My Fair Lady,” where he had a minor role.
In 1959, Domingo attempted to work with the Mexico National Opera as a baritone, but was asked to try the tenor range. After working hard, he was eventually accepted at the National Opera as a tenor and a tutor for other singers. During this period, Domingo appeared in small roles in various stage productions, including “Marina” (as Pascual), “Borsa in Rigoletto” (with Cornell MacNeil and Norman Treigle) and “Padre Confessor.”
In 1960, Domingo landed his first major tenor role in Giuseppe Verdi's “La Traviata.” He later reprised the role in another version of the opera in 1983, which was directed by Franco Zeffirelli. Also in 1960, Domingo made his American debut with the Dallas Civic Opera, in which he played the role of Arturo in Gaetano Donizetti's tragic opera “Lucia di Lammermoor,” starring Joan Sutherland. He returned to the United States two years later when he played the role of Edgardo in the same opera at the Fort Worth Opera.
Domingo worked as a tenor for the Israel National Opera from late 1962 to June 1965. After his contract ended, Domingo made his New York debut playing the role of B. F. Pinkerton in Giacomo Puccini's “Madame Butterfly” (1965) at the New York City Opera. In 1966, Domingo received attention in the U.S. premiere of Alberto Ginastera's “Don Rodrigo” at the New York City Opera. He then performed at the Metropolitan Opera in Francesco Cilea's “Adriana Lecouvreur” (1968), opposite applauded Italian soprano Renata Tebaldi. It marked his first of more than 400 performances at the legendary venue.
Domingo's career was further established with performances at celebrated opera houses around the world. He made his first appearance at the Vienna State Opera in Vienna, Austria, in 1967, the Lyric Opera of Chicago in the U.S. in 1968, the La Scala in Milan, Italy, and the San Francisco Opera in 1969, the Philadelphia Lyric Opera Company in 1970, and London's Covent Garden in 1971. He also performed at the Opéra de la Bastille in Paris and the Los Angeles Music Center Opera, which he co-founded, and the Bayreuth and Salzburg Festivals.
In 1981, Domingo attracted attention with his venture into pop music by recording the duet “Perhaps Love” with country music singer John Denver. The song rose to No. 22 on the U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and No. 59 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982. It also charted on the Dutch Top 40 and the New Zealand Singles Chart. “Perhaps Love” was included in the 1981 album of the same name by Domingo. In late 1980, Domingo collaborated with American singer Jennifer Rush on the song “Till I Loved You.” It peaked at No. 24 on the U.K. charts in 1989.
Domingo, however, did not enjoy his greatest popularity until he joined Italian singer Luciano Pavarotti and fellow Spanish artist José Carreras in The Three Tenors. The trio began performing together at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Rome, Italy, on July 7, 1990. They went on to perform at the World Cup FIFA finals in Los Angeles in 1994, in Paris in 1998 and Yokohama in 2000. They also played in stadiums in cities around the world. The Three Tenors' concerts were generally a massive success and accompanied by a series of best selling recordings. Released on the Decca Classics label in 1990, “Carreras-Domingo-Pavarotti: The Three Tenors In Concert” hit the No. 1 spot in Europe, Australia and New Zealand and made the Top 10 in Austria, Germany and Norway. It won a Grammy for Best Classical Vocal Performance in 1991, Domingo's seventh Grammy. Other records included “The 3 Tenors in Concert 1994,” “The Three Tenors: Paris 1998,” “The Three Tenors Christmas” and “The Best of The Three Tenors.”
Without Pavarotti and Carreras, Domingo performed at the 2006 World Cup in Berlin with Russian soprano Anna Netrebko and French tenor Rolando Villazón. He later performed at the 2008 Summer Olympics closing ceremony in Beijing. Also in 2008, Domingo sang during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI at Nationals Park and the Italian embassy in Washington D.C.
In August 2009, Domingo sang “Panis Angelicus” at the funeral of Senator Ted Kennedy in the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston, Massachusetts. He then played the baritone title role in “Simon Boccanegra,” which debuted at the Berlin State Opera on October 24, 2009. He went on to play the role in 29 other performances during 2009/2010 at leading opera houses throughout the world.
Domingo has performed around the globe countless times. His albums have appeared on Billboard charts of best selling classical and crossover recordings and have brought him nine Grammy awards. He has appeared in a number of opera films and television adaptations and “Madame Butterfly” (1975, directed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle), “Tosca” (1976, directed by Gianfranco De Bosio), “Manon Lescaut” (1980, directed by Kirk Browning), “La Bohème” (1980, directed by André Flédérick), “Samson et Dalila” (1980, directed by Kirk Bowling), “Andrea Chénier” (1981, directed by Otto Schenk), “La fanciulla del West” (1982, directed by John Vernon) and “Aida” (1989, directed by Brian Large), to name just a few. He also appeared in the Francesco Rosi Golden Globe nominated “Carmen” (1984, starred Julia Migenes), Franco Zeffirelli's “Pagliacci” (1982), “La traviata” (1982, with Teresa Stratas) and “Otello” (1986), “Cyrano de Bergerac” (2008, with Sondra Radvanovsky) and the acclaimed film “Moulin Rouge!” (2001). He served as an executive producer on the critically praised Mexican film “The Other Conquest” (1998), which was written and directed by Salvador Carrasco and performed the original “Mater Aeterna,” which was composed by Samuel Zyman. In addition, his performances have been seen in the television series “Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD” (2007-2011).
Latin Grammy: Best Classical Album for Carious Composers “Pasión Española,” 2008
Latin Grammy: Best Classical Album, “I. Albéniz: Merlin,” 2001
Grammy: Best Mexican-American Performance, “100 Years of Mariachi,” 2000
Latin Grammy: Best Classical Album, “T. Breton: La Dolores,” 2000
Grammy: Principal Soloist for Best Opera Recording, “Strauss: Die Frau ohne Schatten,” 1993
Grammy: Best Classical Vocal Performance, “Carreras-Domingo-Pavarotti in Concert,” 1991
Grammy: Principal Soloist for Best Opera Recording, “Wagner: Lohengrin,” 1989
Grammy: Best Latin Pop Performance, “Always in my Heart (Siempre en mi corazon),” 1985
Grammy: Principal Soloist for Best Opera Recording, “Bizet: Carmen,” 1985
Grammy: Principal Soloist for Best Opera Recording, “Verdi: La traviata,” 1984
Grammy: Principal Soloist for Best Opera Recording, “G. Puccini: La bohème,” 1975
Grammy: Principal Soloist for Best Opera Recording, “Verdi: Aida,” 1972