José Plácido Domingo Embil KBE, better known as Plácido Domingo, is a Spanish tenor and conductor known for his versatile and strong voice, possessing a ringing and dramatic tone throughout its range. In March 2008, he debuted in his 128th opera role, giving Domingo more roles than any other tenor. One of The Three Tenors, he has also taken on conducting opera and concert performances, as well as serving as the General Director of the Washington National Opera in Washington, D.C. and the Los Angeles Opera in California. His contracts in both Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. have been extended through the 2010?2011 season.
Plácido Domingo was born near the Barrio de Salamanca section of Madrid, Spain, and moved to Mexico with his family, who ran a zarzuela company. He studied piano at first privately and later at the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico City.
In 1957, P. Domingo made his first professional appearance, performing with his mother in a concert at Mérida, Yucatán. He made his opera debut performing in Manuel Fernández Caballero’s zarzuela, Gigantes y cabezudos, singing a baritone role. At that time, he was working with his parents’ zarzuela company, taking baritone roles and as an accompanist for other singers. Among his first performances was a minor role in the first Mexican production of My Fair Lady where he was also the assistant conductor and assistant coach. The company gave 185 performances, which included a production of Lehár’s The Merry Widow in which he performed alternately as either Camille or Danilo.
In 1959, Domingo auditioned for the Mexico National Opera as a baritone but was then asked to sight-read some arias and lines in the tenor range. Finally he was accepted in the National Opera as a tenor comprimario and as a tutor for other singers. He provided backup vocals for Los Black Jeans in 1958, a rock-and-roll band led by César Costa. He studied piano and conducting, but made his stage debut acting in a minor role in 1959 at the Teatro Degollado in Guadalajara as Pascual in Marina. It was followed by Borsa in Rigoletto, Padre Confessor and others.