Monday, 19 August, 2019

Opera legend Plácido Domingo denies claims of sexual harassment

Placido Domingo speaks during a news conference about his upcoming show Giovanna d’Arco in Madrid Placido Domingo speaks during a news conference about his upcoming show Giovanna d’Arco in Madrid Placido Domingo
Lora Ball | 14 August, 2019, 02:29

He has sung 150 roles in over 4,000 performances, continues to sing, and also works as the director of the Los Angeles Opera.

Opera superstar Placido Domingo has been accused of sexual harassment by numerous women, the Associated Press reported on Monday.

In interviews with almost three dozen people in the opera world - from singers to musicians to backstage staff - the AP said that they had witnessed legendary tenor behave inappropriately and pursue "younger women with impunity".

The opera company said in a statement that even though no inappropriate behavior was alleged to have taken place in San Francisco, the company is "committed to its strong anti-sexual harassment policy and requires all company members to adhere to the highest standards of professional conduct".

The woman said that over the next three years, he became "uncomfortably affectionate", and would touch her waist, kiss her cheek close to her mouth, and enter her dressing room uninvited.

In response to the allegations, Domingo sent out a statement saying they are "deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate".

In his statement to NPR, Domingo continued: "It is painful to hear that I may have upset anyone or made them feel uncomfortable - no matter how long ago and despite my best intentions".

"However, I recognise that the rules and standards by which we are - and should be - measured against today are very different than they were in the past", it added. It was promoted as a "special one performance-only event" with "one of the most influential singing actors in the history of opera" and was one of several gala events this year to celebrate his legendary career.

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One afternoon when they were working together at the Washington Opera, she said, Domingo asked her to meet for lunch at his hotel restaurant to discuss work.

Seven of the nine complainants told AP they feel their careers were adversely impacted after they rejected Domingo's advances, with some saying roles he promised never materialized and several noting that while they went on to work with other companies, they were never hired to work with him again.

The accusers who spoke to the AP - all but one of whom requested anonymity - said they had feared speaking out previously would kill their careers due to his enormous standing.

In canceling its invitation for Domingo to sing at its September 18 opening gala, the Philadelphia Orchestra issued a statement saying: "We are committed to providing a safe, supportive, respectful, and appropriate environment for the orchestra and staff, for collaborating artists and composers, and for our audiences and communities".

EW has reached out to Domingo's representatives for additional comment.

In a report published Tuesday, the nine accusers, who include eight singers and a dancer, told the AP that beginning in the 1980s, Domingo tried to pressure them into sexual relationships by offering them jobs and opportunities in the insular and highly competitive world of opera.

It got to a point, Wulf said, that she would try to hide from Domingo behind a pillar. "He was touching my knee", she said, adding that they drove to his apartment near the opera's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, where champagne was waiting.

The women - who said they were emboldened to speak out by the #MeToo movement - were mostly young and starting their careers at the time. Domingo appears to be the latest high-profile public figure to become embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal after similar accusations were leveled against actors, athletes and politicians in the USA and beyond in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Patricia Wulf, a former opera singer and the only woman named in the allegations, recalled telling a colleague, "They're not going to fire him-they'll fire me".

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