Placido Domingo in Cuba ahead of first Havana concert

Reuters

(Reuters) - They've had the Rolling Stones. Now Cubans are about to hear tenor Placido Domingo sing live for the first time.

Domingo is to make his Cuban debut on Saturday in Havana, singing with the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba at the capital's Gran Teatro. The concert will also be shown on outdoor screens.

Domingo, who was welcomed to Havana by Cuban National Ballet director Alicia Alonso, said he had long wanted to sing in Cuba.

"I have always wanted to come and the only issue was that there was no possibility. The only thing I wanted was to push it ahead a bit, because it had taken so long," the singer told reporters.

"We were getting to the point where it became essential for me to come because I don't know for how much longer I will be singing," added Domingo, who is 75.

"If the concert ... leaves the audience happy, I will want to come back again, because I wanted to sing for all of Havana."

The arrival of Spanish-born Domingo, one of the most famous opera singers in the world, comes at a time of transition for Cuba as it reshapes its relations with the United States.

The Rolling Stones in March because the first major Western rock band to perform in Cuba, playing a free, outdoor concert for an estimated 500,000 people.

Domingo, who is currently general director of the Los Angeles Opera, has a large footprint in Latin America. He performed benefit concerts for Mexico's earthquake relief efforts in 1985 and again after Hurricane Pauline devastated parts of Mexico and El Salvador in 1997.

(Reporting by Reuters Television; Editing by Leslie Adler)