Domingo’s conductor speaks up

A message from Eugene Kohn, who has conducted Placido Domingo more than 800 times in 52 years.

EUGENE KOHN

I first met Plácido Domingo in 1967, and we have worked together closely since 1985. It’s been a pleasure and an honor to conduct him in over 800 opera and concert performances on five continents: a great singer and a kind, compassionate human being.

On stage, Domingo reveals his soul through an unmatched expressive tone capacity. Living through countless rehearsals together, study periods, travel, meals and parties, has proven to me the quality of this man’s patience, goodness, and lack of malice in his personal life. He would not hurt a fly.

Family, music, and football, seem divided almost equally as his top priorities, and quiet, non-programmed time is challenging to achieve in his busy daily life. Domingo is frequently surrounded by admirers, both male and female, hoping to get closer to his magnetism- and sometimes using extreme methods to achieve this.

Our operatic world provides easy opportunity for intimacy and romantic fantasy. Stage directors work demandingly with their vocal artists to ensure that an embrace, a bodily caress, or even a kiss on the mouth are effected with kinetic passion and believability. These moments can be focused on during staging rehearsals until they’re perfected, giving onlookers an opportunity to conjecture, to comment, and even to gossip about possibly false conclusions.

In all the decades that I’ve known Plácido Domingo, I have never seen him force attention on a colleague, never seen him “make deals” with anyone, and have never observed the type of behavior that some recent negative press articles stated he is being accused of by eight anonymous women. Until a week ago, the single non-anonymous accuser had him proudly featured on her website.

Maestro Domingo is a principled human being, full of love and generosity- both obvious and clear to all who truly know him, and to all those whose ears and soul are fed by the honesty and unique clarity of the vocal tone of his beloved voice.

Sincerely,

Eugene Kohn

917 xxx xxx3

August 15th, 2019

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  • Name says:

    Here we go again with this nonsense. “He was always nice when I was in the room, so he could not possibly have been otherwise, as alleged by these nine accusers.

    • Emil says:

      Yup. Breaking news, guy who harassed women did not harass a man.
      And man who didn’t get harassed wasn’t paying attention.

      • BrianB says:

        You weren’t there at all, how could you possibly know any of this? What presumption. If you were there and personally witnessed inappropriate behavior from Domingo, please fill us in.

      • dAdA says:

        bad, really bad logic, Emil. Hope this logic does not turns against you one day

    • Cordula says:

      We all are really surprised that a man defends a man in that situation…

      • Gustavo says:

        It’s like the Pussy-Grabber supporting Bojob.

        Dominant males are usually competitors but cooperate under certain circumstances if it is beneficial for their own rank position and secures their resources.

        See also the German car industry: mostly males hiding their dishonesty and defending each others social and economic ranks.

        But these guys are taking the great risk of losing everything.

    • Thomas says:

      Why does it take them that long to come out with this? I bet they enjoyed the attention at the time if it ever ‘happened’ the way they put it.

      • Cordula says:

        If you think that you have never thought about the dynamics that such things take on. Which is sad. Maybe you ask women in your environment, if you know some, why that could be the case.

        You tell somebody – he doesn’t believe you.
        You tell somebody – he believes you but says “not so bad”.
        You tell somebody – he laughs at you.
        or
        You don’t tell somebody because you are ashamed.
        You don’t tell somebody because you know what the reactions will be.
        You don’t tell somebody because he will say “Isn’t it your fault, too?”

        Do you see that there are so many dynamics and reasons why you tell respectively DON’T tell anybody – because the reaction that you expressed is exactly leading in the wrong direction?
        So many women don’t donounce their harrassers because they know you don’t belive them, or you don’t understand them.

        I know so many women who didn’t say a word when their boss harrassed them. Because they wanted to keep their job.

        Why don’t you understand that it is a question which can’t be answered in one sentence?
        Please, go out and talk to women, ask them about harrassing, at work, on the street, during their hobbies. You won’t find many who haven’t experienced that.
        Please, develop a minimum of understanding!

    • Novagerio says:

      Exactly. “Well, he didn’t touch my nuts, so, he’s a really nice guy”…

  • mick the knife says:

    The Don vs “metoo” is looking like the Tyson-Spinks fight.

  • Po says:

    I am not sure I know this “Domingo‘s conductor” very well. While I will forever cherish “Kleiber‘s Otello”, “Karajan‘s Turandot”, “Jochum‘s Meistersinger”, “Giulini‘s Don Carlo”, “Abbado‘s Carmen”, in which Domingo is part of. As a tenor, he did a good job.

    • Gustavo says:

      And perhaps also Sinopoli’s Tannhäuser.

      – “Erbarm’ Dich mein, MeToo!”

    • ThrownOutOfTheKremlinForSinging says:

      I thought his MEISTERSINGER sucked, for two reasons: his German was not right, did not sound German, and, (this is not Domingo’s fault, but it makes the recording awful) the Sachs was Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, who never should have gone near that role. He (DFD) lacks the vocal heft (which is likely why he only recorded the role in studio, did not sing it live) and his personality is dead wrong. He’s everything Sachs stands against: all brain and no brawn, overrefined, pretty and precious, petty and fussy, all representation and no will. Sachs should be huge-voiced, craggy, smelly, earthy, and a bit vulgar. The perfect role for DFD in MEISTERSINGER would be Beckmesser, which he never sang. It could have been one of his signature roles.

      Getting back to Domingo, the special challenge of singing German opera well is to master the German choppiness, the contrast between stressed syllables and un-accented ones, but also keep a smooth, connected underlying line like bel canto. Domingo gets the line right but fails miserably in the choppiness. He sounds like a Spaniard.

  • Tekej says:

    Thinking of all those people that publicly defended Bill Cosby. Where are they now?

    • BrianB says:

      Do you know of any substantiated allegations that Domingo engaged in anything like the behavior, including drugging and forcing himself on unconscious women, that Cosby was proven in a court of law to have engaged in?

  • Paul G. says:

    Ignorance of events doesn’t mean they never happened.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Kohn’s message is irrelevant and immaterial to the charges being made against Placido.
    PD is (was) a great singer – so what?
    His conductor liked to conduct for him – so what?
    PD sexually harasses women, according to at least 8 of his victims.
    It’s way past time to disengage PD’s musical history from his accused crimes.

    • DaDa says:

      PD sexually harasses women? Really, Greg? How do you know? If 8 your former schoolmates, colleagues and neighbour suddenly tell us after knowing you for 30 years that you are a bad human, simply like that, without anything to prove it – shall I believe them all?

  • V.Lind says:

    Well, that’s helpful.

  • Jack says:

    Uh, it’s totally unreadable, except maybe for ants.

    • Mr. Knowitall says:

      Option-click to open SD art in separate, bigger tabs.

    • Bruce says:

      1. right click on “view image”
      2. Hold down the Ctrl key and click the “+” key to zoom in.

      Works on a Windows PC anyway. If you’re using an Apple product then I don’t know how to help you.

  • Laurence says:

    Not once did he grab my private parts in all those 800 performances! Nor did he harass anyone right in front of me! I guess that settles it, eh?

  • AllanC says:

    Norman, cannot read the document. It is too small!

  • Gustavo says:

    “Our operatic world provides easy opportunity for intimacy and romantic fantasy.”

    Is this a confession?

    • DaDa says:

      Did you really read the article properly? Or are you a cynic or a bad person jumping willingly on anything that just blames and mocks others?

  • Anon says:

    “Domingo is frequently surrounded by admirers, both male and female, hoping to get closer to his magnetism- and sometimes using extreme methods to achieve this.”

    Dear Classical Music,

    Victim blaming is not a good look. This particular affair will probably blow over, as Domingo is too big to fail. But the attempts of so many of his fans to blame the victims shames this entire field and makes a mockery of its claim to embody higher values.

  • Simon says:

    Although I am inclined to believe the women coming forward with their testimonies, I also think we should refrain from making judgement without knowing all the facts. None of us were there, and none of us know any of the parties involved. It would be wise to wait for an official and thorough investigation. There is always a chance that the accusations are based on a misunderstanding of displays of affection by mister Domingo.

    • Stella says:

      Although I am inclined to believe the women coming forward with their testimonies, I also think we should refrain from making judgement without knowing all the facts. None of us was there, and none of us know any of the parties involved. It would be wise to wait for an official and thorough investigation. There is always a chance that the accusations are valid.

      Fixed it for you, including the subjunctive.

    • V.Lind says:

      But SD has already told us that the investigation is going to be a whitewash.

    • Caravaggio says:

      “There is always a chance that the accusations are based on a misunderstanding of displays of affection by mister Domingo.”

      Yes. Like wet kisses or hands up skirts or NO translates to consensual in Castillian or blacklisting.

      • DaDa says:

        are you talking about a proven thing or just a gossip? making one’s after a first mocking article is a truly dangerous and utterly unhealthy thing.

      • DaDa says:

        are you talking about a proven thing or just a gossip? making one’s mind after reading a first and single mocking article is a truly dangerous and utterly unhealthy thing.

  • Margaret Housen says:

    If someone has a legitimate complaint then stop hiding behind anonymous. Patricia Wulf, at best, is a second rate singer and has said that her career has not suffered from the supposed actions of Mr. Domingo. As a woman, I know sexual harrassment exists but asking someone if they have to go home is neither harrassment nor sexual.

    I would imagine that there were hundreds of times Mr. Domingo was set upon by dozens of women!

    • Cyril says:

      Well Margaret, if he was “set upon” by dozens of women, he should have acquiesced to romantic relations with those women, rather than pestering to the point of harassment women who did NOT want his attentions.

  • BillOxford says:

    If Maestro Kohn is correct, Patricia Wulf (the only accuser prepared to be named, to date) “had him [Domingo] proudly featured on her website” until only a week ago. Given that Domingo has been accused of persistently harassing her, albeit some 20 years ago, it does seem odd that Ms Wulf remained so keen publicly to maintain her association with him for so long. It appears that Ms Wulf was only too happy to further her career by links to Domingo but now turns against him after more than two decades.

  • M2N2K says:

    The comments here show very vividly why prominent male conductors are silent about this: in current me-too climate, any statement in support of the accused man does not help him at all but usually backfires strongly against those who dare to express such support.

  • MacroV says:

    Don’t mean to disparage him, but I’ve never heard of Eugene Kohn. Interesting NY Times article from 1984:https://www.nytimes.com/1984/01/19/arts/ileana-cotrubas-refuses-to-sing-at-met-opera.html

    In any event, a 68 YO male conductor – however well known or not – probably isn’t in the best position to observe Placido’s behavior with the ladies.

    • DaDa says:

      you probably heard really a very little. Eugene Kohn is no Bernstein, but he IS known to anyone who cares about classical music. And Contrubas’ testimony accounts to what: a musical collaboration or something different… please: first study, and study humbly, then despise…

  • Linny Bee says:

    If Mr. Kohn ever has one of his daughters or family lodge a complaint, he possibly then would come out of his sound sleep and take realistic notice. Until then, it’s likely he will protect his own interests.

  • Skeptical Rick says:

    The public vs. the private behavior of celebrities and business titans often diverges. This unsavory behavior can occur with both males and females in positions of power and adulation. We in the general public know little of the predilections, both good and bad, when someone leaves the spotlight and public applause.

    Power and celebrity can do strange things to those without a rock-solid moral North Star to guide their behavior through all aspects of life. Treating everyone with equanimity and respect, not just those who can do something for someone, is the mark of a balanced, decent person.

    I would hope Mr. Domingo’s musical brilliance would carry over into his private life. We need proof, however, rather than just rumors, of transgressions committed by anyone, not just Mr. Domingo, if society-at-large is to provide a fair disposition of less-than-savory accusations which might be lobbed out of jealousy, spite, retribution or an attempt to shake someone down for hush money.

    Accusers who lob specious firebombs to promote themselves, secure money or gain momentary fame need to be exposed, just as those who commit truly heinous acts must be held to decent behavior and respect for others.

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