UPDATED: In response to the sexual harassment allegations leveled by nine women against opera singer Placido Domingo, the Los Angeles Opera, where the singer has been General Director since 2003, offered a written statement sent by its Director of Communications.
“We believe all employees and artists should be treated respectfully and feel safe and secure within their work environment. LA Opera has robust human resources policies and procedures in place. In accordance with those policies, LA Opera will engage outside counsel to investigate the concerning allegations about Plácido Domingo. Plácido Domingo has been a dynamic creative force in the life of LA Opera and the artistic culture of Los Angeles for more than three decades. Nevertheless, we are committed to doing everything we can to foster a professional and collaborative environment where all our employees and artists feel equally comfortable, valued and respected.”
The Metropolitan Opera Guild, the non-profit organization that publishes Opera News magazine and supports the Metropolitan Opera of New York City, had no comment, although some reports say it is awaiting the results of the Los Angeles Opera’s investigation.
However, concerts by the singer in Philadelphia and San Francisco have been cancelled in the wake of the allegations. A statement from the the San Francisco Opera issued on Tuesday afternoon said: “Though the alleged incidents reported did not take place at San Francisco Opera, the Company is unable to present the artist on the War Memorial Opera House stage. San Francisco Opera is committed to its strong anti-sexual harassment policy and requires all Company members to adhere to the highest standards of professional conduct. San Francisco Opera places a great priority on creating a safe and secure environment where everyone can focus on their work and art, and in which colleagues are treated with respect, dignity and collegiality.”
Earlier Tuesday, the Philadelphia Orchestra withdrew its invitation for the vocalist to appear with music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin in the season’s gala opening concert September 18. The gala’s date will remain the same and the Orchestra is currently looking for a replacement. However, the singer is still set to perform at the Salzburg Festival in Austria on Aug. 31. The festival’s president, Helga Rabl-Stadler, issued a statement in his defense that reads: “I have known Plácido Domingo for more than 25 years. In addition to his artistic competence, I was impressed from the very beginning by his appreciative treatment of all Festival employees. He knows every name, from the concierge to the secretary; he never fails to thank anyone performing even the smallest service for him. Had the accusations against him been voiced inside the Festspielhaus in Salzburg, I am sure I would have heard of it.
“Furthermore, as a jurist by training, my assumption is ‘in dubio pro reo.’ I would find it factually wrong and morally irresponsible to make irreversible judgments at this point, and to base decisions on such judgments. Artistic Director Markus Hinterhäuser, Executive Diretor Lukas Crepaz and I all agree that Plácido Domingo should perform in “Luisa Miller” at the 2019 Festival as planned.”
Domingo, 78, was accused by eight singers and one dancer of misconduct that seemingly began as far back as the 1980’s and has included unwanted kissing, touching and fondling, often with the promise of opera work or connections as a result. When Domingo’s attempts at seduction were spurned, the women claim the job offers dried up.
According to a statement from Domingo: “The allegations from these unnamed individuals dating back as many as 30 years are deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate. Still, 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. I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual. People who know me or who have worked with me know that I am not someone who would intentionally harm, offend, or embarrass anyone.”