Placido Domingo: My Favorite Roles
About the Performance Documentary

The great Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo looks back on his illustrious career – one which has been bountifully preserved on film and video – in Plácido Domingo: My Favorite Roles, a presentation of THIRTEEN’s Great Performances, airing Friday, September 23 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

Watch a preview:

This comprehensive performance documentary, the first profile of the tenor in a decade, features the celebrated tenor – and general director of both the Washington National Opera and the Los Angeles Opera – as he looks back and reflects with heartfelt candor on his choicest roles from opera houses around the world.

The story of Domingo’s roots in Spain is interwoven with his famous performance as Don Jose in Carmen at the Vienna Staatsoper, while his reminiscences about his childhood in Mexico inform his acclaimed performance in El Gato Montes from LA Opera.

Other excerpts – several of them culled from earlier Great Performances telecasts — includes Ernani and I Pagliacci from La Scala (the latter seen in the Franco Zeffirelli film version); La Gioconda from the Vienna State Opera; Andrea Chénier, The Tales of Hoffmann, Otello and The Girl of the Golden West from The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Luisa Miller and Simon Boccanegra from the Metropolitan Opera; Samson and Dalila from the San Francisco Opera; and the Emmy-winning Tosca from Rome (Cavarodossi from “Tosca” is his all-time favorite role, he states).

Among the celebrated female costars glimpsed with Domingo over the years are the late Shirley Verrett, Ileana Cotrubas, Kiri Te Kanawa, Renata Scotto, Teresa Stratas, Carol Neblett, Elena Obraztsova, Adrianne Pieczonka and Agnes Baltsa.

He has appeared in over 3,500 performances in over 130 roles, a number unmatched by any other celebrated tenor in history. He has also conducted upwards of 450 performances; is founder of the Operalia international singing competition. He has won 11 Grammy Awards, and two Emmy Awards, one of them for 1983’s Plácido Domingo Celebrates Seville on Great Performances, the other for 1992’s The Metropolitan Opera Silver Anniversary Gala. In October 2009 he was awarded the million dollar Birgit Nilsson Prize, the most prestigious prize in opera.

He crossed over from the world of classical music into the mainstream in the 1990s when he teamed up with fellow tenors Luciano Pavarotti and José Carreras to form The Three Tenors, whose worldwide performances brought opera to a brand new audience. There are glowing tributes from Carreras and the late Pavarotti on their versatile colleague.

At the age of 68, Domingo embarked on his very first as baritone in an opera, Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra, and followed it with the title role of another Verdi classic, Rigoletto, airing Friday, July 15 at 9 p.m. ET on Great Performances. Rigoletto from Mantua, which aired live in Europe last year, was shot in sumptuous locations in that city.

Also forthcoming on Great Performances as part of the PBS Arts Fall Festival is the world premiere performance of the late Daniel Catán’s Il Postino, based on the popular 1994 Italian film, with Domingo as the poet Pablo Neruda.

Produced and directed by Chris Hunt, Placido Domingo: My Favorite Roles is an Iambic Media Production in association with THIRTEEN for WNET. For Great Performances, John Walker is producer; Bill O’Donnell is series producer; and David Horn is executive producer.

Great Performances is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, the Irene Diamond Fund, The Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, the Starr Foundation, Vivian Milstein, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, and Joseph A. Wilson.

  • emmaline

    placido domingo the greatest opera maestromever and his zazuela latin performances magnifico bravo maestro

  • dianevdlinden

    I am a real operafan and i love the voice of among others from Placido Domingo. Next to his superb voice is he a great actor. From all the past tenors i loved the voice of Luciano Pavarotti the most. And i still think that if he didnt fellt away Domingo should never have the attention which he is getting to have now.
    When Pavarotti was living Domingo alwas was the second one. Finally when Pavarotti died Domingo was accepted through the whole world as beiing the wellknown and famous tenor which was left.
    He has a deep warm loving voice which i love but i loved the voice of Pavarotti more!!!

    Greetings Diane

  • maimi

    Thank you PBS for airing such a valuable documentary. To Maestro Domingo, countless gratitude and appreciation for your life-long contributions and devoted passion to the world of opera. Most of all, thank you for enriching my life with your beautiful voice through various, cherished opera roles.

    One quick note to the commenter, dianvlinden. Hopefully, after watching the PBS documentary, you will understand how your comments were engrained in ignorance despite your claim of being a “real” opera fan. Although you personally may prefer Maestro Pavarotti to Domingo, to say that it was not upon the death of the late Maestro Pavarotti that Domingo received worldwide notorierty and fame as a tenor is sheer ignorance. Obviously you have no concept of Maestro Domingo’s achievement worldwide in the past 40 years nor can comprehend you are comparing apples to oranges when it comes to comparison of the 2 tenors. Each maestro is an invididual in his/her own right and stands second to noone.

  • junehilde

    I eagerly look forward to this. Domingo is THE tenor of all times. I marvel at his busy and productive life. In additon to his charity works, conducting, mentoring, recording and of course singing–adding new roles and new challenges yearly–he remains approachable and humble. And The Voice only gets better. His roles and characterizations are always full realized. He is a believable Siegmund with a partners half his age. One soprano said that his acting was so complete that she went out of her role as he was singing directly to her. (Not a good thing to experience when on stage at the Met)
    I, on the other hand, sit in the first row orchestra and always feel he is singing directly to me. And that is the magic of Domingo. I once told him backstage after Simon Boccanegro that he made me cry. He took my hands in his soft hands and said “As it should be”.

  • Joseph

    It would be indeed great of PBS went back for good to the niche for which it became known once, live broadcast of Opera, Ballet and Classical music performances. That was the fare that built it up into a great educational station, regrettably, it is seldom done and when it does get shown it is mostly during begging time, far too little to convince anyone to contribute or become a member. Back then, the opera, ballet and concerts where done as it was intended by the composer, instead, now they music is still played but in “modernized” versions and other updated atrocities that just leaves one wishing PBS will finally stop broadcasting as a regular station. The fact is that PBS niche has been eroded by A&E, which leaves a lot to be desired, History Channel and other cable fare which is far more receptive to their consumer base. Preschoolers’ viewing has switched to Nickelodeon, Disney and Cartoon Network. PBS was never a source for news or in-depth discussions on political issues, the competition from many other stations has always done that much better than PBS and frankly the debacle of the firing of Juan Williams by rabid liberal feminist Vivian Schiller was the straw that broke the camel’s back for many people and turned off most of your corporate contributors. So perhaps if you stop wasting time and money on those areas that serve no purpose perhaps the savings can be used to get programs that may entice your former base of supporters back. Until that happens, I will not become a member of PBS again. PBS either changes its format or it should consider pulling the plug once and for all. Then again PBS may think that the older generation that supported a more genteel station like you used to be are on the way out and therefore if you want to survive you must cater to a youger audience with no economic means and who want everything for free. This is why a long drive just ended last month and last night another membership drive for more money was on. Truly as a business enterprise if it is costing that much to keep you on, the writing is on the wall that your final demise is not far off. When and if that time comes I hope that you will do it with the grace that once was your station’s trademark.

  • Javier Hernandez

    Dear Diane: loving one voice or another is a matter of taste, which is an endless discussion. Taste is a very personal choice and there is no way to demonstrate you are right or not.
    I only want to comment that you forgot a third, very important factor: the humanity commitment. I do not say Pavarotti was an insensible person, but Plácido Domingo´s actions for the benefit of people in tremendous trouble have no equal in modern history.
    You are right if you say that this don´t makes him a better tenor, but it certanily makes him a much better human being.
    PS1: bay the way, I am not related (unfortunately) with the “Chicharito” Hernández, who is a very nice human being too.
    PS2: I enjoy Domingo´s perfomances much more than the finest Pavarotti´s ones.

  • Javier Hernandez

    My mistake: I wrote “bay” instead of “by”. Sorry; it was a typing mistake.

  • Alex


    I have to disagree with you on many, if not all of your points.

    Although in this modern media environment it is difficult to program classical music, opera, and ballet, Great Performances and GP at the Met broadcast this type of programming consistently every year. Do they have pop shows that help pay the bills from time-to-time? Sure, but ask any major orchestra whether they’d rather be playing Beethoven’s 5th or a pops concert and you’d get a similar answer.

    PBS’s children’s programming including Sesame Street and others is still the go-to source for appropriate educational content for parents and their kids.

    While the A&E is focused on Intervention and Hoarders and History Channel is focused on Ice Truckers, PBS still shows extensive historical documentaries such as the upcoming series on Prohibition by Ken Burns.

    PBS NewsHour is still at the top of its game when it comes to political news and Frontline provides incredibly reported in-depth looks at the serious issues of our day.

    And finally PBS did NOT fire Juan Williams, that was NPR, which is radio, not television and they are both completely separate entities.

  • Barbara

    Thank you PBS for this wonderful interlude with Placido Domingo. In the discussions of various roles you get a glimpse of the warm, caring, and passionate human being that is Placido. He puts so much of himself into these roles and brings the music to life. He brings me tremdous joy with his voice. I can close my eyes and be transported to this magical world he creates. I am wanting desperately to see him in person and hopefully, if he continues to sing I will see him in 2012.

  • John in Williamsburg, Va

    I want to buy this DVD; it is magnificent. How and where can I get it?

  • Julie S.

    Thank you for the chance to see this wonderful artist in some of his favorite roles. There’s no point comparing tenors, and we all know his voice and musicality are marvelous, but his abilty to master so many roles, in so many languages is amazing to me–as is his acting talent. Unlike most opera stars I’ve seen, Domingo is an accomplished actor and I was so happy to share some of that with my children thanks to “Great Performances”

    As for his humanitarian work, I think his son summed it up well, speaking about Domingo as his father, “He is a great artist, but I admire him even more as a man.”

    We are so fortunate that he has preserved such an astonishing breadth and depth of work on CDs, DVDs, television and film. I’m very much looking forward to “Il Postino”. Again, PBS, thank you.

  • Gloria Moss

    This was a marvelous documentary. I thrilled to listen to his passion for the music and the performance–his personal outlook and his intimate feelings for the music he performs. I remember hearing records of Mario Lanza when I was a teenager. This man–Placido Domingo–is just as inspiring with his music and philosophy. I loved it!

  • david ernst

    Hi John,

    The Placido Domingo DVD will be available on the Great Performances section of and is also available on WNET / THIRTEEN’s web store as well.

    GP Team

  • carmela lyons

    joseph;;;;reading your message i imagine that you are a technical professional music teacher or critics!!!
    anyway !!jealousy is so wide and open to everybody!!!!!!!!!please forgive the 99.9 PEOPLE WHO ADMIRES THE


  • Martha Best

    Please provide an announcement regarding television showings of the current series of Metropolitan Opera HDTV performances. I have been engrossed in all those shown in prior seasons, and hope that the present ones will become available on our local PBS channel.
    Thank you.

  • Robyn O’Neill

    Finally, I’ve found information on a DVD of Domingo’s favorites. Unfortunately I missed any mention of this PBS program in September due to the terrible coverage of this kind of show in New York City newspapers. They just don’t care when rock and rap are usually the only interests of those who prepare these 3 papers’ TV sections. Also, believe me, Domingo was never publicized in the New York like others have been — and this has been because of the huge Italian-American population of the area. If he were an Italian, with exactly the same repertoire and vocal and acting qualities, he would have been number one in NYC long ago. No one else can even come close. But don’t say this in New Jersey, Staten Island or Bensonhurst!

  • Maria Clerc


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