Placido Domingo mourns ‘beloved sister’

Placido Domingo mourns ‘beloved sister’


norman lebrecht

June 10, 2015

The singer, who cancelled engagements for the past few weeks to be at his sister’s bedside in Boston, has just tweeted: ‘RIP my beloved sister ! I love you. May God bless you. Your brother. Plàcido’

domingo and sister

UPDATE: He added later on Facebook:

It is with my upmost profound sadness that I announce the passing of my beloved and adored sister Maria José. She left us last night at 7:45 PM at Massachusetts General Hospital in the city of Boston, surrounded by the entire family.
She is survived by her devoted husband; my brother-in law Alfonso, 4 amazing children, José Luis, Pili, Maite and Alfonso; 6 beautiful grandchildren, Rodrigo, Francisco, Andoni, Paola, Constanza, Iker and their respective extraordinary parents, Monica, Paco and Marcela.
Maria José rest in peace and may God welcome your precious and kind soul into heaven. You will be tremendously missed and I know our dear parents would have been extremely proud to see how caring, devotedly and above all unselfishly you led your life, always thinking and putting everyone else before you. I love you Gordita, your brother… Plácido.
I thank everyone in advance for your kind consideration and understanding during our family’s time of mourning.


  • Angela Rodion says:

    I’m sure I’m going to get shot down in flames here for being hard-hearted but is Domingo so egocentric that he thinks we want a running commentary on his life? The man is 80 years old, he must expect to lose siblings. I’m sorry for his loss. He cancels his engagements to be by her bedside, and that’s commendable in its way, but then I think of Joan Sutherland who made her New York concert debut on the night of her mother’s funeral in London because she had a contract and didn’t want to let the promoter or the public down. It is called being professional.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Have a heart. He has lost a sister and wants the world to share his grief and know he’ll be back soon on stage.

      • Angela Rodion says:

        Norman, thank you, I have a heart, really I have, but at 80 one expects to lose relatives and it happens to us all. I am truly sorry for his loss. It is as if Domingo thinks he’s some sort of major player with everyone hanging on his every word and every action. He isn’t any longer, and the parade really has gone by on his career to the point where he is compromising his former, and very great, reputation. I don’t mean to sound unsympathetic, but a little bit of self-awareness wouldn’t come amiss with Domingo.

        • David Ward says:

          As far as I know Domingo was born in the same year as me, which was 1941. Unless I’m really going mad, neither of us is yet 80! I think 74 should be more like it …

          • norman lebrecht says:


          • Angela Rodion says:

            Trust me, Mr Ward, it is a well known and quite open secret within the opera business that Placido Domingo is 80 years old. He’s quite remarkable for his age, but he has been around a long long time. Mr Lebrecht knows I’m telling the truth here, I’m sure.

          • says:

            Angela Placido is 74 not 80 – please have some compassion. you sound so bitter at a time just to have some compassion at this sad time……

            Placido is loved all over the world and it is not in his nature to cancel shows.

            This is a very sad time for him and for his family.

          • Una says:

            Angela Rodion, I think you just need to have a bit more compassion. You have no idea, and I suggest you back into your box. You just wait until you start burying your family and friends, and anyone close to you, and you might feel differently. Why bother writing when you knew you were going to get shot down in flames. I don’t even know who Justin Bieber is, but I do know that life is precious, and it’s all late to start looking after people when their dead and best to be nice to people when they’re still around. All this is just a horrible, heartless and unnecessary blog. It’s not the time and place to discuss whether you like Placido as a baritone or a tenor or a conductor or anything. He’s lost his beloved sister to whom he was very close and no doubt mouring her loss like anyother normal person.

        • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

          Dear Angela, with all due respect: reading your post, I cannot help but saying that the one lacking self awareness here is you, in your insensitive and uncaring response to Placido and his grieving family.

        • Anne says:

          you are a hard hearted woman. I’ve known Plácido for over 40 years and he exudes warmth and love to all he cares for. He’s 73 not 80 and still as sexy as he was in his 30s.

    • Libe says:

      It’s not about egocentrism, or how natural is loosing someone you love, he had to cancel performing to stay next to his sister, and his fans followed the situation very closely. He is not saying “look at me, I’m suffering” he is saying thank you for being there for me. It’s called professionalism.

      • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

        It is also a friend communicating with friends, sharing the loss of his very much loved sister.

    • Alexander says:

      This comment is despicable. It doesn’t matter how old he is. He has just lost one of his closest family members and, because he is a well known and well liked person, he is sharing the news with the wider world. It’s utter nonsense to say that he is actually 80 years old. He is 74, and I understand that his sister was younger than him, so she has died earlier than one could on average expect. Not that her age or Domingo’s age ought to matter. He is evidently very sad to have lost her, and that is all that matters. As for why he is telling people about it, it’s obvious. He is a very famous man in his field and he has had to cancel engagements because of his sister’s illness. Therefore he expects, probably rightly, that people will have an interest in know how her condition has progressed or declined.

    • Brucknerliebhaber says:

      I must say I am shocked by the pettiness and insensitivity of Angela’s comment. What could have made you so bitter and cynical? I feel sorry for Domingo’s loss ….and also for you…..

    • Rebecca Mitchell says:

      Why, of course, isn’t it terrible Domingo uses Facebook and Twitter to let people who care know about major things going on in his life–just like the millions of other people who use those sites? (And don’t pretend no one cares about Domingo anymore–he just became the first classical artist ever to have a million likes on facebook. For comparison’s sake, Anna Netrebko has 5,600 likes. Jonas Kaufmann, who posts more often, has 87,000 likes.) Just because you don’t like him doesn’t mean that the hundreds (perhaps thousands?) of people who bought tickets to see him in Vienna, Hamburg, and London don’t appreciate his apolgetic explanations of why he had to cancel. That you think that story of Sutherland putting her career before her family actually speaks well of her says a lot about you that is only confirmed with the rest of your rather distasteful post.

      You’re not even onboard with the normal mean-spirited gossip about Domingo, Angela. The rumor has always been that he was born in January 1934, which would make him 81. Mind you there is absolutely no evidence for this claim and never has been, but that’s never stopped those who have an irrational hatred for the man. Helen Matheopoulos in her book “Placido Domingo: My Operatic Roles” reprinted official copies of his birth certificate and baptismal certificate that prove he was born in 1941, but that never has stopped the Domingo “birthers” from believing and propounding their silly rumors.

      It is doubly ironic that it would come up on a post about his sister, because they were so close in age, she would have had to have lied about her age for all these decades too. Look at the pictures of them together as children at the top of the page. Are the two little kids 2 years or 9 years different in age? And why should we believe that his parents had him 6 years before their marriage, instead of one year after? There is no evidence that they had even met yet in 1934. (And his parents, especially his mother Pepita Embil, were popular singers in their day, so don’t try to claim their marriage date was falsified too. The original claim is ridiculous enough.)

      Successful people at the top (Netrebko, Fleming, etc.) always draw a lot of resentment from those who don’t understand why others like them so much more than their own favorites. Domingo is top of the heap in this regard, as shown by the two decades of “Domingo Wars” on Opera-L and the handful of posters who spam hundreds of Domingo’s YouTube videos with snarky, resentful (and often outright false) comments. There is unfortunately something about Domingo that causes those who don’t like him to move away from intelligent, mature criticism into the realm of outlandish disparagement and often cruel personal attacks. One might have hoped they could at least have the decency to hold back during his time of mourning. Tasteless is truly an understatement.

    • Pamela Brown says:

      With all due respect, that is a cold-hearted response. Family is family.

  • John says:

    Placido Domingo has contributed so much to his art over these many years, I’d like to be the first in this post to express my sympathy for his (and his family’s) loss.

  • V.Lind says:

    Not that long ago there was a small controversy here over Domingo’s first cancellation due to his sister’s illness. He may have received criticism from more than SD people. So notice of the outcome of her illness puts the lid on the story. I am sure many more people were sympathetic throughout. It is clear from his language that this is a very close-knit clan. And I am equally sure many people worldwide want to respect this man still, despite his great age (as if that makes a whit of difference).

    And in fact it is not that great an age. Not these days. I always have understood him to be a few years younger than Pavarotti, who was born in 1935. So 1941 sounds right.

    I’m not familiar with Joan Sutherland’s family situation, and would not presume to criticise her for her choice of activity on the day of her mother’s funeral. Perhaps she felt that she had spent the time that mattered, when her mother was alive. But I don’t think she would have been unforgiven if she had had to postpone her NY appearance. Not should Domingo be criticised for mourning his sister, and making he end of the story available to those who had been following it. Grief is personal. And professionalism can conflate with ambition and selfishness as well as consideration for others.

  • Barbara Napoli says:

    Angela whoever you are… I am a friend of Placido and his was born in 1941, trust me…. And yes a bit of humanity would be lovely… We all lose loved ones and nothing wrong for him to mourn his sister… We all feel different about things in life and family is a very important part of his life. His latest professional choices might be questionable but not his love of his family and beautiful soul and heart…

  • Themezas says:

    I use to go to an street in Madrid where Placido was born, a plate at the entrance of the building indicates, “Placido Domingo was born in this house in 1941”, Placido is not 80 as “someone indicates here”.
    Placido is an idol in Spain, in the place where he grew up in Mexico; Placido is an Idol adored by the hundreds of artist who asked his advice and mentorship, nothing to do with an egocentric person. Placido is an Spaniard and acts like ONE!

    What Placido describe in his condolence not is typical of someone from a country in Europe where family is wrote with CAPITAL LETTERS, FAMILY and brothers and sister are as he describe, ADORED.

  • Angela Rodion says:

    I knew I’d be shot down in flames! Knew it.

  • Wilbur Pauley says:

    to be fair, there are some of us who side with ms. Rodin, although I’m not sure why the vehemence. Many years ago the archivist of the Mexican National Opera showed me a programme of Domingos debut there. According to the 1941 birthdate, he would have been 15. Seems unlikely for a comprimario role in a male. These rumors have been around for years. I’m sure the site owner knows this.

    I appreciate her point, but the reason people still get these briefs from him are because he still sees himself The most important artist on the international scene, rather than just another one of several fine tenors of that generation. It is also the only way he can generate continuing publicity for himself, which seemingly is at the level of madness if you believe Johanna Fiedlers book on the Metropolitan Opera.

    • Rebecca Mitchell says:

      Wilbur, the idea of Domingo singing at age 15 proves nothing; he was singing with his parents’ Zarzuela company long before that age. By 15, he was already a seasoned performer having grown up in the theater. I do hope too that you realize there are now dozens of top opera singers who post on Twitter and Facebook about their lives and careers. I guess they are all narcissists in your book?

  • Gail Sados says:

    Who cares what you say. You got your 2 minutes of fame. Must be nice being you jealous bitter untruthful & lacking in humanity. Oh yes the exact opposite of the great Domingo

  • Liz says:

    I vowed I would never leave a comment at this site again because of all the malicious people but here I am officially breaking my vow and being just as mean as you Angela which I am not proud of. You have to be a jealous vindictive person to be that mean when people are grieving for their loved one. Considering all his awards and achievements Plácido should be the biggest jerk on earth but he is still one of the kindest and most humble people. He will sit and have lunch in the canteen with the staff and sit and crack jokes with the handymen. To stop the vicious controversy by a couple of people his birth certificate was made public a number of years ago. In a time when his close knit family should be mourning for their loved one they have taken the time to keep fans up to date. I for one really appreciate that.

  • Wilbur Pauley says:

    Gail. The topic is not a new one. Get a grip. Isn’t having the subject at hand for your profile picture emblematic of a slight lack of perspective?

    Death is part of life. A press release for this, and bowel movements is really unnecessary.

  • Barbara says:

    I’m glad to read some pleasant and sympathetic comments after the rather griping ones before. It seems to be a very close and loving family: remember the Mexican earthquake?

  • Anne says:

    You are so very wrong about Plácido not being a major player anymore. He sings and conducts all over the world and is still adored as a baritone as he was as a tenor. You really don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • Angela Rodion says:

    It is fascinating to see the comments here and realise how well a publicity machine can work. Not everyone is enamoured of Mr Domingo’s efforts as a baritone, and it is sad to see a much loved artist little by little ruining his fine reputation. An acquaintance of mine in Vienna said “he’s turning into a sort of operatic Nureyev.” Which is true. And as for his conducting, lets not go there. There’s a real difference between being artistically adventurous and artistically greedy.

  • Angela Rodion says:

    Mr Pauley, thank you for your comments. They are appreciated by me. Very much so.

  • James says:

    Wow, the people being mean about Domingo are just so very horrible. I’ve seen some mean-spirited posts in my time but this I think takes the biscuit. The man’s sister has just died – it is normal for a public figure to issue a statement at such a time, especially when he needs to keep his public informed about why he has cancelled performances. I would suggest that this might be one of those times to follow the old adage, if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing. As for his age or prestige – who cares? I for one wish him nothing but comfort, good memories of her and better times.

  • Paul Joschak says:

    Meanwhile, over on Sinfini, poor Chris Gillett gets it in the neck from some rabid Pavarotti fan for an article in which he dares to suggest that Luciano wasn’t renowned for his sight reading abilities. Jeez! – What is it with tenors and their attack dogs?!

  • Angela Rodion says:

    I’m not attacking Domingo, far from it, but I do wonder why he needs to tell the world of his every movement. Of course I have sympathy for his loss. I still wonder though, why he feels the need to broadcast it to the world as if we are waiting on his every utterance. He’s Placido Domingo, not Justin Bieber!!! And I’m afraid some of the commentators here are behaving like Justin Bieber’s fans.

  • Una says:

    No, you’re not attacking Domingo, you are just showing yourself up and such a lack of humanity, and who cares if he’s a baritone, a tenor, 73, 80 101, or a mother losing a child whom we don’t know, losing a child or a brother or a sister? It’s the same, it’s grief, and no one escapes. Always pays to be generous in life, regardless of how much is in the bank. It costs nothing.

  • Anne says:

    September 9, 1983 at the age of 42, the selfless Plácido Domingo flew from New York to San Francisco to save our Opening Night of Otello, broken wrist and all and gave us a night no one will ever forget. Now he is in pain and mourning his beloved sister and all you can do is trash talk such a wonderful man. He’s updating us because he feels badly about all the cancellations due to his sister’s illness. Have a heart…we should all be as caring as he.

  • Larraine Ritchie says:

    Angela you need to get a life I can see you were not brought up to respect ur elders placido Domingo is a gift from God with a voice like that but u must be going deaf if you don’t like him shut up your like a spoilt child wanting to be heard this beautiful man will go down in history you won’t my respects to placidity Domingo and his family for his loss