Nine women have come forward to accuse Placido Domingo, the 78-year-old director of the Los Angeles Opera and a legend in the industry, of sexual harassment. A report in the Associated Press, corroborated by “three dozen other singers, dancers, orchestra musicians, members of backstage staff, voice teachers and an administrator” lays out a pattern of alleged behavior stretching back decades in which Domingo aggressively pursued women he worked with or mentored, kissing and touching some inappropriately. Seven of the women said their careers were negatively affected and that they lost opportunities after rejecting Domingo’s unwanted advances.
Domingo responded to the allegations in a statement:
The allegations from these unnamed individuals dating back as many as thirty 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, who rose to fame as a tenor in the ’80s, is one of the most celebrated opera singers in the world, having given more than 4,000 performances and found success as a crossover artist. Patricia Wulf, the only woman who allowed AP to use her name in the report, noted that “he is almost like God in my business.” Another anonymous accuser shared the same sentiment, telling AP that it felt as though refusing Domingo “would be saying no to God.”
One notable aspect of the report is the extreme lengths that the women say they went to to avoid Domingo’s advances, such as “no longer using the ladies’ room near his office, asking other singers or backstage staff to stick with them while at work, and not answering their phones at home.” Others describe finding excuses to leave right after rehearsal or staying inside a dressing room until he had left the hallway outside. A dancer called her tactic for avoiding Domingo “the bob and weave, the giggle and get out,” while one of the singers called it “walking the tightrope.” One woman, who was a student at Juilliard when she met Domingo, claims she had a male classmate answer her phone to finally stop him from calling her relentlessly, after not picking up proved no deterrent.
In response to the allegations, the Philadelphia Orchestra withdrew its invitation for Domingo to perform in September. “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,” the association said in a statement.
Update, Aug. 13, 2:45 p.m.: The Los Angeles Opera, where Domingo has been general director since 2003, has also issued a statement. “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.”