When Plácido Domingo Helped Me Fall In Love With Opera

Rockettes Reflections

By Darlene Wendy

Throughout their 90-year history, the world-famous Rockettes have shared the stage—and unforgettable adventures—with many other world-famous personalities. They have appeared at such iconic events as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Super Bowl and on TV shows like America’s Got Talent and Night of 100 Stars. The Rockettes are taking a moment to reflect on their favorite stardust memories.

Darlene Wendy (second from the left) with her Rockette sisters and Plácido Domingo backstage at Gala of Stars in 1984. Wendy interviewed Plácido on television for the fifth annual PBS fundraising spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. 

In 1982, my Rockette sisters and I performed on Night of 100 Stars at Radio City Music Hall. We escorted famous leading men from the film and TV industry onto the Great Stage and of course, had them partake in our iconic kick line. 

During rehearsals, Plácido Domingo, a Spanish tenor who is one of the most influential figures in opera, was sitting alongside Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida watching us. The next day there was a welcoming get together at Radio City for all the celebritiesand that’s when Plácido came over to me and introduced himself.

He talked about how much he loved watching the Rockettes in rehearsal and couldn’t wait to see the actual performance. After a few minutes of chit-chatting about everything from my life as a dancer to how I’ve never been to an opera, he asked for my number.

Plácido called me the next day and invited me to see my very first opera that evening (and one he was starring in!): Les Contes d’Hoffmannone” at the Metropolitan Opera HouseI, of course, accepted his generous offer.

I remember like it was yesterday. I was wearing this beautiful gold sequined dress and was escorted to my seat; front and center in the third row. Watching Plácido perform on the Met stage, I developed a whole new appreciation for operathe sounds, the movements, the orchestra … my heart was in my stomach!

In fact, I was so hooked that I auditioned at the New York State Theater (in July 2008, it was renamed the David H. Koch Theater) and was part of the cast for multiple productions.

To this day, I will never, ever forget how amazing my first opera was and how Plácido helped foster my love for this art form.

Darlene Wendy Frank was a Rockette from 1980 to 1997. She currently resides in Forest Hills, NY.