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Plácido Domingo: 1941—: Opera Singer, Conductor, Administrator - Talented Soccer Goalie

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As a young man Domingo also excelled as a soccer goalie, but he elected to embark on a musical career and enrolled at the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico City. He studied both voice (as a baritone at first) and conducting. His musical theater experience led to his first professional roles, one in the Mexican production of the U.S. musical My Fair Lady and the other in a 1957 zarzuela production. Domingo's operatic debut came in 1960 with the Mexican National Opera, in Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto. He served his apprenticeship in the opera world with a two-and-a-half year stint in Israel in the early 1960s, singing in 280 performances (most of them in Hebrew) with that country's national opera company.

By the late 1960s, Domingo was ready to conquer the stages of the world's major opera houses. He joined the New York City Opera in 1965 and quickly impressed critics with his acting skills—sometimes a weak point among conservatory-trained and technique-focused singers, but second nature to the raised-in-the-theatre Domingo. Throughout his career he would be praised for the depth of his dramatic interpretations, and of all the roles he has performed he is perhaps most identified with Verdi's Otello, based on the Shakespeare play Othello and making similarly difficult interpretive demands on its star.

At a Glance . . .

Born January 21, 1941, in Madrid, Spain; parents were zarzuela (light opera) performers; married Marta Ornelas (a lyric soprano); children: Jose, Plácido, Jr., Alvaro Maurizio. Education: Attended National Conservatory of Music, Mexico City, Mexico; studied voice and conducting.

Career: Made debut as baritone in a zarzuela (Gigantes y cabezudos), 1957; switched to tenor; joined Mexican National Opera, 1959; made operatic debut, in Rigoletto, 1960; performed in first major role, as Alfredo in La Traviata, Monterrey, Mexico, 1961; sang with Israel National Opera Company, 1962-65; joined New York City Opera, 1965; performed with Hamburg State Opera, 1967; made debut at Metropolitan Opera House, New York, NY, 1968; debuted at La Scala, Milan, Italy, 1969; performed at Covent Garden, London, U.K., 1971; conducted an opera performance for first time (La Traviata) with New York City Opera, New York, NY, 1973; recorded duet with John Denver ("Perhaps Love"), 1981; recorded duet with Jennifer Rush ("Till I Loved You"), 1989; helped found Los Angeles Music Center Opera; first performed with Luciano Pavarotti and José Carreras as The Three Tenors, 1990; starred in film versions of Carmen, Otello, and La Traviata; founded vocal competition for young singers, 1993; became artistic director of the Washington Opera, Washington, D.C., 1996.

Awards: Grammy Award, Best Latin Pop Performance, 1984; Legion of Honor, France.

Addresses: Record company—Columbia/Sony Records: 51 West 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019.

Domingo made his most important debut at New York's Metropolitan Opera in 1968, in the opera Adriana Lecouvreur. Pavarotti made his own debut there during the same season, which is remembered as "an important one in Met history," according to Opera News writer Walter Price. Price pointed to the "burnished, dark color" of Domingo's voice. Through the 1990s Domingo appeared at the Met at least once each season, and his debut there was followed by appearances at the major European opera houses. By the mid-1970s, Domingo was considered one of the top tenors in the world.

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