The #MeToo movement has ended the U.S. career of legendary 78-year-old Spanish tenor Placido Domingo, one of classical music’s greatest ambassadors and impresarios. For nearly half a century, Domingo’s intense stage presence and warm, soaring voice captivated opera audiences; during the 1990s, he reached millions of new listeners as a member of the itinerant Three Tenors. In recent years, long after most singers have retired from the stage, he has continued a grueling international performance schedule, now singing baritone roles with remarkable pitch control and legato.
Domingo’s entrepreneurial drive has been as untiring as his stage career. He was pivotal in creating Los Angeles’s first full-time opera company, LA Opera, the culmination of two decades of artistic diplomacy in Southern California. As LA Opera’s general director, he wooed philanthropic support from philistine Hollywood and the city’s political class. In 1993, he founded the international opera competition, Operalia, one of several institutions he has established to promote young singers. He led the Washington National Opera as general director from 1996 to 2011, and his conducting career has spanned opera pits and concert stages around the world.
He has championed the unjustly neglected Spanish opera form, Zarzuela, which he sang growing up in Mexico City, and his charitable endeavors have extended beyond classical music; he led fundraising for Mexico City following its catastrophic earthquake in 1985. Testimonials to his kindness, generosity, and bottomless work ethic abound. Helga Rabl-Stadler, the president of the Salzburg Festival, the most important classical music gathering in the world, recently praised Domingo’s “appreciative treatment” of festival employees: “He knows every name, from the concierge to the secretary; he never fails to thank anyone performing even the smallest service for him.”
Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute, contributing editor at City Journal, and the author of the bestselling War on Cops and The Diversity Delusion (available now). Follow her on Twitter here.
Photo by Antoni Bofill / Barcelona Opera House via Getty Images