September 6, 2010

Plácido Domingo and Yanni Honor Mexico

Neither Plácido Domingo or Yanni are Mexican. However, their love for the country is evident in their album releases this month. Each man has done what he does best, creating music in honour of the bicentennial and centennial celebrations. This isn't so surprising, when you realise how beloved the Spanish tenor and Greek composer are in Mexico.

This year sees the 200th anniversary of the Mexican War of Independence, which separated Mexico from the Spanish Empire. This month also witnesses the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, which established civil rights and democracy for its population. Both artists have recorded their albums with these events in mind.

Placido Domingo

Plácido Domingo was up first, with his album, 'Mexico Lindo y Querido' ('My Pretty and Beloved Mexico'). The song of the same name is a favorite of Mariachi and Ranchera ensembles and the clue to the style of music is right there. Domingo brings his considerable vocal prowess to these traditional Mexican groups. It is already in the shops.

Domingo is no stranger to Mexico. He was born in Spain, but moved to Mexico with his parents, when he was eight years old. Later he entered the National Conservatory of Music, in Mexico City, to study piano and conducting. It was here that he was encouraged to train his voice instead. His operatic debut was held in Monterrey, Mexico, when he was cast as Alfredo, in 'La Traviata'.

Domingo has married twice, both times to Mexican women. With his first wife, Ana María Guerra Cué, he had a son, José Plácido Domingo Guerra, who was born in Mexico City, in 1958. In 1962, Domingo married his second wife, Marta Ornelas. A stunning soprano, she was voted Mexican Singer of the Year in the same year. She gave up her career to care for their two sons, Plácido Francisco and Alvaro Maurizio.

Despite travelling all over the world, as Domingo is in demand for concerts and other performances, the family regularly return to the home that they maintain in Acapulco, Mexico. Domingo statue

After an earthquake, in 1985, rocked Mexico City, Domingo performed a number of benefit concerts to raise money for the victims. As a result, public subscription paid for a statue in his honor. It was cast, by Alejandra Zúñiga, out of door keys handed in by the people of Mexico City. This was especially poignant to Domingo, as he had lost four of his own relatives in the tragedy.

Domingo also performed a concert, in 2003, in aid of Ciudad de la Alegria Foundation. This Cancún based charity provides homes and assistance to the most vunerable in society, including low-income individuals, orphans, expectant mothers, immigrants, rehabilitated legal offenders, and the terminally ill.

More recently, in December 2009, Domingo held a free concert in Mexico City. This was staged in front of the Angel of Independence statue and included arias, as well as traditional Mexican songs.

'Mexico Lindo y Querido' is already riding up the Mexican album charts, after its release last month. Domingo sings popular Mexican songs, backed by a Mariachi band.


Yanni announced, two days ago, the imminient release of his 'Yanni: Mexicanisimo'. There is no actual date, as yet, for when this will be in the shops, but it is expected before the bicentennial celebrations, on September 16th. His blog describes what is to come: 'Yanni: Mexicanisimo brings together some of the most beautiful Mexican songs of all time in a fusion of Ranchero, Symphonic Orchestra and Yanni's unique magic.'

Born and raised in Greece, Yanni has spent his adult years based in the USA. However, he has expressed his love of all things Mexican and this album is his tribute to the festivities here.

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