Opera stars to honour Placido Domingo at 70

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Some of the world's top opera stars will honour Spanish tenor Placido Domingo at a special gala on Friday as he celebrates his 70th birthday in his birthplace of Madrid.

The gala at the Teatro Real opera house is one of many tributes to the performer, well known to popular music audiences for his "Three Tenors" performances with Jose Carreras and the late Luciano Pavarotti.

Around 20 of the world's leading opera singers will be performing about 15 arias, sources at the Teatro Real said.

But Domingo will be unaware until the last minute who has traveled to Madrid to perform.

He himself will watch from the balcony, accompanied by his family, and is expected to join the performers on stage at the end.

The gala, to be attended by Spain's Queen Sofia, will be shown on a giant screen in the Plaza de Oriente outside and broadcast in around 20 countries.

"To be in Madrid singing, with my family and friends, on such an important day for me is part of my birthday present," he told a news conference earlier this month.

"The biggest gift which I could receive on this birthday is to say that I can still continue singing for a few more years.

"At this stage every day I marvel at being able to sing," said Domingo, who underwent surgery last year to remove a cancerous polyp from his colon.

The tenor has been performing the role of Oreste in Christoph Willibald Gluck's opera "Iphigenie en Tauride" at the Teatro Real this month. The opera runs until January 27.

On Tuesday, he received the Spanish government's Order of Arts and Letters for "his extraordinary artistic career as a singer and orchestra conductor."

The Teatro Real has also offered people from around the world the chance to wish Domingo 'happy birthday' on its official web site.

Born in Madrid, he moved to Mexico as a child with his parents, who ran a company that performed zarzuela, the traditional Spanish operetta.

He made his operatic debut in a leading role as Alfredo in Verdi's "La Traviata" in Monterrery in Mexico nearly five decades ago.

The Grammy-winner's repertoire encompasses 130 stage roles -- a number unmatched by any other celebrated tenor in history.

© 2011 AFP

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