Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 15 October 2019

Placido Domingo faces sexual harassment probe as venues cancel shows

Eight singers and a dancer say they were sexually harassed by the singer in incidents going back to the 1980s

Placido Domingo speaks at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes
Placido Domingo speaks at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

Opera legend Placido Domingo faced a growing #MeToo storm on Tuesday as the Los Angeles Opera opened an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against him and two other major venues cancelled his performances.

Domingo defended himself after several women accused him of using his position as one of opera's most celebrated singers to pressure them into sexual relationships.

Eight singers and a dancer told AP they were sexually harassed in incidents going back to the 1980s.

One said Domingo had put his hand down her skirt while three said he had forcibly kissed them. Some said they felt their careers had been damaged by rejecting his advances.

"The allegations from these unnamed individuals dating back as many as 30 years are deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate," he said.

"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."

The LA Opera, where Domingo has been director general since 2003, said it would "engage outside counsel to investigate the concerning allegations".

"Placido 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," it said.

"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."

Spanish-born Domingo was one of the most recognised opera stars of the 20th century, starring in the Three Tenors alongside Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras.

In recent years, the long-time married singer has transformed himself into a baritone and still performs to packed audiences at the age of 78.

"I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual," Domingo said.

"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 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."

After the allegations, the Philadelphia Orchestra Association withdrew its invitation for the singer to appear in its opening night concert on September 18.

"We are committed to providing a safe, supportive, respectful and appropriate environment," the orchestra said.

The San Francisco Opera also cancelled one of his concerts, which was due to take place on October 6.

New York's Metropolitan Opera said it would await the outcome of the LA Opera's investigation before making any final decisions about Domingo's "ultimate future".

But the head of the Salzburg Festival in Austria said he would perform there as planned this month.

"I would find it objectively wrong and irresponsible on a human level to come to definitive judgments at this time, and to base any decisions on them," Helga Rabl-Stadler said.

Domingo has made more than 100 albums and picked up 14 Grammy awards. This year, he celebrated his 4,000th performance in a career that stretches 60 years.

The allegations are the latest in a series made against high-profile entertainment personalities as part of the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct.

Television star Bill Cosby has been jailed while movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is awaiting the start of his trial next month.

Updated: August 14, 2019 03:24 AM

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