Justino Díaz had a tremendous career that rivals that of some of the other great singers of his era.
Born on Jan. 29, 1940, Díaz’s singing career started off at a rather early age when he took classes in school at the age of eight. From there he would head over to the University of Puerto Rico and then the New England Conservatory. Shortly after, he made his professional debut and never looked back.
Here is a look at the top five moments of his career.
Met Council Auditions Winner
On March 29, 1963, Díaz distinguished himself as the first-ever Puerto Rican to win the Met Opera National Council Auditions. From there he would make his Met Opera debut in 1963 in “Rigoletto.”
Opening the Met
While Leontyne Price made the vast majority of headlines for the opening of the new Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center, Díaz deserves just as much acclaim as he was also headliner in taking on the role of Antony in “Antony and Cleopatra.” In fact, he is among the first voices heard in the new theater on that fateful day of Sept. 16, 1966.
Again, Beverly Sills stole the spotlight in her Met Opera debut in the Rossini opera, but Díaz was around for the US Premiere of Rossini’s “The Siege of Corinth” on April 7, 1975.
Another Inauguration Closer to Home
But his inaugurations were not just limited to the Met; Díaz also opened the Luis A. Ferre Performing Arts Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He would sing his final performance there as well.
He made several recordings and appeared numerous times on the big and small screen in a wide range of operas. He even got to appear in the film “Callas Forever.” But his big shining moment is undoubtedly his scene-stealing turn as Iago in Verdi’s “Otello” as directed by Franco Zeffirelli. It is in this film, with the camera close up to his face that Díaz shows his quality as a multi-faceted actor capable of showcasing the dark and twisted character while also portraying a lighter and flightier perspective.