Placido Domingo breaks record with 150th opera role

Placido Domingo
Placido Domingo

VIENNA • The great tenor Enrico Caruso sang about 60 roles, while storied diva Maria Callas had roughly 50.

But Placido Domingo (above) has blazed past them all. On Thursday, when he took the stage for a concert performance of Bizet's The Pearl Fishers at the Salzburg Festival in Austria, he reached a virtually unheard-of milestone in opera history.

He sang his 150th role.

Now 77, well past the age at which most star singers retire, he has performed nearly 4,000 times in a six-decade career, recorded more than 100 albums and become a household name as one of the Three Tenors and in appearances on Sesame Street and The Simpsons.

He has continued to add voraciously to his repertoire, choosing roles to match his changing voice, while also becoming a prominent conductor and arts administrator.

Domingo's resilience has had its detractors. As early as the 1970s, he was told to slow down or risk burnout.

As he entered his 60s, then his 70s, critics and peers repeatedly suggested he should retire with dignity.

Nothing has stopped him. "When I rest, I rust," he said, and when his tenor high notes began to give out, he moved to baritone roles.

Domingo's debut in his 149th role, as the baritone Miller in Verdi's Luisa Miller at the Metropolitan Opera in New York last spring, was sold out and widely praised.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2018, with the headline 'Placido Domingo breaks record with 150th opera role'. Print Edition | Subscribe