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Opera Star

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Plácido Domingo has given his life to performing and promoting opera.

Domingo has also been involved in raising money to help victims of natural disasters in Mexico and Peru, and he is currently a spokesperson for, among other things, Hear the World, an initiative which focuses on hearing loss.

How does he choose charities? "Everything is important," he says, "and you have to choose those things that are not necessarily the more obvious things that might touch you. You see an unbelievable tragedy, and you immediately react."

But it's not that this human dynamo doesn't like to relax. During his vacations, he escapes to his house in Acapulco, where he spends time with his wife of 46 years, Marta Ornelas, and their sons: Plácido Jr., 42, a composer, and Alvaro, 39, a filmmaker who also books his father's Latin American engagements. Another son, José, a 50-year old businessman who was born during a prior short-lived marriage, also joins the clan. Watching television and going to the movies, the theater, and sporting events like soccer, Formula One, and tennis are Domingo favorites for relaxing.

When he's in New York City, Domingo drops by Pampano, a Mexican restaurant he co-owns with chef Richard Sandoval. "I'm not good as a cook," says Domingo. "One of the things for a cook is to have time, and that's one of the things I don't have." But he does, says his partner, have a phenomenal palate. "He knows what he likes; he's experienced a lot. He'll tell me what he wants to see on the menu. We'll be talking and he'll say, 'I came up with this idea of doing this sushi in a Serrano chili [sauce],' and I'll play with it."

Even though he has sybaritic appetites and remains vibrant, attractive, and in good voice, Domingo recognizes that aging brings change, something he's been dealing with for years. He has, for example, altered his repertoire—"I'm always searching for new things as my voice changes over the years"—and is contemplating what might happen as he gets older.

It's not that he wants to quit the stage, but performing makes incredible demands: the eight-hour-a-day rehearsals that can go on for weeks, the three-hour productions. "I don't know if I can go forward after 70," Domingo says. "I don't [mean] singing, but singing roles on the stage. I am healthy, but I never thought [at this age] I would still be singing at the Met."

Alvaro says that when Domingo finally leaves the stage, if it's a sad moment [for him], it's something none of us will ever see. "He's been gearing up for it for the past 25 years. He's been conducting, he has a lot of recordings to do, he has Operalia and concerts," Alvaro continues. "There's plenty to do. He'll probably be conducting the following night. He won't give us the chance to mourn that last onstage performance."

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