Chad Batka

Over the following four years, Domingo gains early experiences in numerous aspects of music and theatre

Over the following four years, Domingo:
• accompanied his mother in vocal recitals,
• sang high baritone roles in his parents’ zarzuela company,
• studied voice (especially interpretation) with the well-known baritone Carlo Morelli,
• sang a minor part (and assisted in coaching and conducting) in 185 performances of the first Mexican production of My Fair Lady,
• accompanied a young singer in her nightclub performances,
• alternated in the roles of Camillo and Danilo in over 170 performances of The Merry Widow,
• sang in The Redhead, another musical,
• played the piano for a touring ballet company,
• had his own music program on Mexico’s first cultural television station, Channel 11,
• took acting lessons,
• acted in and selected music for televised plays by Pirandello, Benavente, García Lorca, and Chekhov,
• trained a chorus for a special zarzuela season, and
• made Spanish-language arrangements of American pop songs and sometimes even sang in them.

Gradually, however, he also began to become involved in opera.

Monday gatherings with Pepe Esteva and Domingo’s early opera experience.

Every Monday evening, Domingo’s good friend Pepe Esteva and his music-loving family opened their home to established and up-and-coming musicians. Sometimes Plácido sang at these sessions, but more often he accompanied other singers and instrumentalists at the piano and played chamber music. “I developed as a musician more through those weekly sessions than through any other activity of my early years,” he says.

In 1959, the eighteen-year-old Domingo auditioned for the National Opera of Mexico, singing two baritone arias. The auditioners complimented him but told him that he was a tenor.

They gave him a contract, and he made his opera debut on September 23, in Mexico City, in the small role of Borsa in Rigoletto.

For two years he continued to sing secondary roles and to participate in the other activities mentioned above.

In Monterrey, Mexico, on May 19, 1961, Domingo debuted as a lead tenor, singing the role of Alfredo in La Traviata. By the end of the year, he had sung Cavaradossi in Tosca, in Mexico City, and had made his United States debut, in Dallas, as Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor.

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