Placido Domingo, widely regarded as one of the greatest opera singers of all time, has been accused of sexual harassment by nine women. The women — eight singers and a dancer — claim that over decades, the Spanish-born singer, now 78, “tried to pressure women into sexual relationships by dangling jobs and then sometimes punishing the women professionally when they refused his advances,” according to a detailed report published by The Associated Press.
Along with the nine accusers, six other women told the AP that they were on the receiving end of “suggestive overtures” by Domingo made them uncomfortable — such as including a singer who said he repeatedly asked her out on dates — and
Nearly three dozen other singers, dancers, orchestra musicians, members of backstage staff, voice teachers and an administrator who said they witnessed “inappropriate sexually tinged” behavior by the singer.
The accusers said this behavior has long been an open secret in the opera world.
Domingo did not respond to questions about specific allegations, but issued a statement saying: “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.
“However, I recognize that the rules and standards by which we are — and should be — measured against today are very different than they were in the past. I am blessed and privileged to have had a more than 50-year career in opera and will hold myself to the highest standards.”
Domingo has won multiple Grammy Awards and is conductor and director of the Los Angeles Opera.
The alleged incidents date back to the late 1980s. One accuser said Domingo stuck his hand down her skirt and three others said he forcibly kissed them in professional settings. “A business lunch is not strange,” said one of the singers. “Somebody trying to hold your hand during a business lunch is strange — or putting their hand on your knee is a little strange. He was always touching you in some way, and always kissing you.”
Seven of the nine accusers told the AP they believe their careers were negatively impacted after rejecting Domingo’s advances, adding that roles he promised never materialized, and that they were never hired to work with him again.
Just one of the nine women allowed her name to be used — Patricia Wulf, a mezzo-soprano who sang with Domingo at the Washington Opera. Two of the women said they briefly gave in to Domingo’s advances, feeling they couldn’t risk jeopardizing their careers by saying no to him.
None of the women could offer documentation, but the AP spoke multiple colleagues and friends who they confided in. Several of the accusers said they were warned repeatedly by colleagues to never be alone with Domingo.
The accusers were mostly young and starting their careers at the time.