"I was lucky to have the pain," said the 69-year-old Spaniard, who was forced to interrupt a busy international schedule after a tour in Japan, where he experienced severe pain in the abdominal area.
"And I also wasn't able to lift my left leg easily," he said as he picked it up off the chair, with a smile.
In fact, they were fortuitous symptoms that spurred him to fly to New York, where his primary physician at Mount Sinai Medical Center, Dr. Valentin Fuster, quickly delivered the diagnosis: a malignant polyp in the colon.
"And he said, 'There's no way you're going on to London!'" Domingo said.
Instead, the cancerous tissue was surgically removed on March 2.
Looking rested and tanned on Monday night, Domingo chatted during a private opening party for the new East Side restaurant Zengo, which he co-owns with restaurateur Richard Sandoval. It starts serving meals to the public on Tuesday.
Amid talk of tapas and tequila, Domingo addressed a much more serious subject: colonoscopies.
He said he had never had one before and on a warm, festive spring evening, issued an urgent appeal: "Every person in this world should have a colonoscopy! I want to say to people, just do it!!"
In the early stages, people with colon cancer often have no symptoms at all – one reason doctors recommend screening.
Domingo said he was simply lucky, and when his cancer was caught it was localized and had not spread.
He said he did not require chemotherapy or radiation, just a six-week break from singing during which he rested at his Manhattan apartment and his home in Acapulco, Mexico.
Domingo is to fly to Italy later this week to rehearse Verdi's opera "Simon Boccanegra" at Milan's Teatro alla Scala, singing the title role for six performances starting April 16. Also in April and May, he's appearing in concerts in Moscow and the capital of Qatar, Doha.
He'll do more than sing in Doha. He'll also enjoy the food – at two Doha restaurants he and Sandoval co-own.
And the tenor is catching up with the mounds of get-well mail he received.
"I am just so thankful for the demonstrations of love that were unbelievable," he said, his rich speaking voice rising with emotion.
He said one man who had heard him in every major role he ever sang wrote, "'Rest well, for your most important role – yourself.'"
(This version SUBS 5th graf to correct that Fuster, a cardiologist, delivered diagnosis, sted made it. SUBS 14th graf to show timing of concerts, sted recitals. )