In this Monday, Oct. 19, 2009 photo, singer Placido Domingo performs the opera Simon Boccanegra by Giuseppe Verdi at the Staatsoper in Berlin, Germany. The opera conducted by Daniel Barenboim will premier on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Sixty year opera veteran and legend Placido Domingo has resigned from his position as general director of the Los Angles Opera and has cancelled performance for the foreseeable future over heavy allegations of sexual misconduct.
“Recent accusations that have been made against me in the press have created an atmosphere in which my ability to serve this company that I so love has been compromised,” he wrote in a statement provided to The Times. “While I will continue to work to clear my name, I have decided that it is in the best interests of L.A. Opera for me to resign as its general director and withdraw from my future scheduled performances at this time.
“I do so with a heavy heart and at the same time wish to convey to the company’s dedicated board and hard-working staff my deepest wishes that the L.A. Opera continue to grow and excel.”
An anonymous female source from inside the Los Angeles Opera community responded to our request for comment, saying she and others feel some relief and believe it is warranted.
Domingo’s resignation as LA Opera General Director is a watershed moment in opera. I hope it is the end of a long era of female singers being forced to live in fear of either harassment or retaliation. The #MeToo movement can sometimes be too quick to cancel powerful men, but in Domingo’s case the sheer number of victims and the level at which their stories were corroborated warranted his dismissal from both the Met and LA Opera.
Domingo – who boasts more than 4,000 heralded performances – has been under intense scrutiny since one woman came forward over the summer to say she had been repeatedly harassed by the star during the time she worked with him. Eight more women followed suit, claiming Domingo had acted not just inappropriately towards them but also aggressively.
One accuser said Domingo stuck his hand down her skirt and three others said he forced wet kisses on their lips — in a dressing room, a hotel room and at a lunch meeting.
“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.”
In addition to the nine accusers, a half-dozen other women told the AP that suggestive overtures by Domingo made them uncomfortable, including one singer who said he repeatedly asked her out on dates after hiring her to sing a series of concerts with him in the 1990s.
A half dozen more women have since spoken up, confirming Domingo’s propensity to abuse his status and his causal sense of assurance that he would never be held accountable.
In the wake of the accusations the opera community began their own campaign to out sexual harassment within the industry…an industry long been rumored to be wrought with the type of sexual harassment many think is only confined to the “Weinsteins” of Hollywood. The hashtags #opera9 and #timesup have become clarion calls to opera industry insiders who have known the reality of their business for a long time, but not had the power to speak about it publicly.
When one accuser revealed the legendary entertainer had shoved his hands down her top and grabbed her breasts as she sat in a makeup chair, the Domingo camp initially responded with the assertion his advances were “welcomed”.
Wilson told the AP that she, then 28, and Domingo were having their makeup done together when he rose from his chair, stood behind her, slipped his hands into her robe and under her bra straps, and grabbed her bare breast.
“It hurt,” she told the AP. “It was not gentle. He groped me hard.” She said Domingo then turned and walked away, leaving her stunned and humiliated.
Wilson said she was spurred to come forward after Domingo responded to the first AP articleby saying he believed his actions “were always welcomed and consensual” and added: “The rules and standards by which we are — and should be — measured against today are very different than they were in the past.”
Wilson rejected the idea that such behavior has ever been acceptable.
“What woman would ever want him to grab their breast? And it hurt,” she told AP. “Then I had to go onstage and act like I was in love with him.”
Domingo has already declared he will never again perform in New York City after allegations prompted him to pull out of an annual performance. With his Los Angeles position now defunct, the opera legend may not be returning to the United States for a very long time. At 78-years-old, perhaps never.