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).

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.