Plácido Domingo is undeniably one of the major forces in the history of opera.
Born on Jan. 21, 1941 in Madrid, Spain, he spent much of his youth in Mexico. He was very much involved in Zarzuela from a young age as his parents started their own company dedicated to the art form. He studied at the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico and by age 16 he was already singing professionally as a baritone.
He would later become a tenor and his career took off when he debuted at the Mexican National Opera. From there he would start finding his way out of Mexico, into the United States and then into Europe where he would wind up singing at all the greatest opera companies on the planet in hundreds of roles.
His output is legendary with hundreds of recordings (of opera and crossover), a number of books, and work as both a conductor, administrator, and founder of a number of organizations, including the Operalia Competition. In his latter years, he has turned to performing as a baritone, adding over a dozen roles to his repertory. He has also appeared in a number of films, including “Moulin Rouge!,” “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” and “The Book of Life;” he has also appeared in many filmed opera movies as well.
He was also one of the Three Tenors alongside Luciano Pavarotti and José Carreras. He has performed at more FIFA World Cups than any other artist. He has also won a number of Grammys and received honors from numerous governments.
Where do we even start with Domingo? The tenor has famously performed and recorded over 150 roles in his career, a record in the history of the art form.
But for many his signature role is the title role of “Otello.” Domingo was THE Otello of choice for several decades at the close of the 20th century.
Three recordings were released commercially on CD with another three (the Met, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and Teatro alla Scala) getting released on visual media. He also has a movie version of the opera as directed by Franco Zeffirelli.
While his voice may not have been as potent as that of Otello’s of yore, Domingo’s strong acting skills were crucial in making the opera his own. Sir Laurence Olivier once stated that “Domingo plays Othello as well as I do and he has that voice.”
His first performance of the role came at the Hamburg State Opera in 1975 and his final performances came in the early 21st century.
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Watch and Listen
Here he is in one of his most famed performances of “Otello.”
Here is an album with a diverse array or repertoire.