Placido Domingo, one of opera’s most public faces

It’s been a big few weeks for Plácido Domingo. Last week, the superstar opera singer achieved a nearly superhuman feat by debuting his 150th role—triple the number most star singers rack up over the course of a career. With a performance log inching close to 4,000, over 100 recordings, 50 music videos, 12 Grammy Awards, and 2 honorary doctorates, the 77-year-old musician’s career is certainly one for the record books. In honor of the 2018 edition of Operalia, The World Opera Competition, this weekend, let’s take a quick look at his exceptionally varied oeuvre…

The Three Tenors

Plácido Domingo is perhaps most widely known as a member of the internationally-renowned trio, The Three Tenors, in which he performs alongside Luciano Pavarotti and José Carreras. The three celebrated tenors first performed together in 1990 in a concert celebrating the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy, in a now legendary performance at the ancient Baths of Caracalla in Rome. In this excerpt, their easy rapport is already evident as they amicably trade off phrases of Puccini’s Nessun Dorma:

In the decades that followed, the group went on to perform at numerous major sporting events, record a handful of smash-hit albums, and embark on several world tours. While their signature blend of opera, Broadway numbers, pop hits, and Neopolitan songs was often the source of criticism from certain opera purists, it allowed them to reach a wide audience and play a key role in developing the cross-over genre that many classical musicians would experiment with afterward.

An Exceptionally Diverse Portfolio

Plácido Domingo’s activities with The Three Tenors could have constituted an impressive career on their own, but they are in fact just a portion of his oeuvre. As a tenor, his roles stretched across a wide swath of repertoire, from the light lyricism of Donizetti to the dark depths of Wagner—a portfolio that increased in diversity with his much-discussed decision to transition into baritone roles in 2009. He has also moved from stage to podium, and has conducted over 500 concerts and operas to date.

Much as he has done as a singer, Maestro Domingo has championed the zarzuela repertoire he first performed as a teenager, weaving it regularly into his live performances and studio recording sessions. Born into a family of zarzuela performers, some of his earliest performances came via the Spanish lyric-dramatic genre. Here he conducts an excerpt from José Serrano’s 1929 zarzuela Los Claveles, with Ana Maria Martinez as soloist:

The Face of Opera

A veritable household name today, Plácido Domingo has played a key role in bringing classical music to the general public. From his appearance on The Simpsons to his recurring stint as “Placido Flamingo” on Sesame Street, his voice has become synonymous with classical music for generations of budding music fans.


He has also played a key role in supporting generations of budding opera stars through the Operalia competition. Since 1993, the event has helped launch the careers of some of today’s biggest names like Joyce DiDonato, and Rolando Villazon. The 2018 edition is taking place in Lisbon, Portugal and is excited to be once again partnering with the competition to stream the final round of performances live this weekend! To get you in the mood for this Sunday’s grand finale, let’s take a look at some of the highlights from last year…

Don’t miss the final round of Operalia 2018 this Sunday, live at 1pm (EDT) / 6pm (BST)! ▶️ Click here to learn more.


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