Placido Domingo Ferrer; International Singing Star, Father of Famed Tenor

Placido Domingo Ferrer, an international star of the zarzuela, the idiomatic Spanish opera in which music is intertwined with dialogue, has died in Mexico City.

The father of opera star Placido Domingo, who with his wife guided their now famous son’s musical education and career, was 80 and died Sunday in Hospital Espanol, said Domingo’s publicist, Nancy Seltzer.

Born in Saragossa, Spain, the baritone and actor in 1946 moved with his wife, soprano Pepita Embil, to Mexico after a tour of that country.

Pepita Embil Domingo was known for years as the “Queen of the Zarzuela, " a three-century-old opera form that today is generally performed as the serious zarzuela grande in three acts or the comic zarzuelita in one act.


The Domingos settled in Mexico City where they formed an operetta company of 80 and for the next 35 years toured the world. In that time, many zarzuelas were written especially for them.

The elder Domingo remained a popular favorite in Mexico, and recently, he and his tenor son appeared in an American Express Card commercial echoing the familiar “Do You Know Me?” theme.

Domingo’s parents encouraged his youthful interest in music, beginning with piano lessons that led the now internationally famous singer to initially seek a career in conducting.

Two weeks ago, the tenor dedicated the zarzuela portion of his concert in Acapulco to his parents, which his ailing father was able to see on television.


In addition to his son, Domingo is survived by his wife, a daughter and seven grandchildren.