An extensive investigation by the Associated Press has brought to light claims by eight singers and a dancer that they were subjected to unwanted sexual advances and pressures by the former tenor, who was at the time head of the Los Angeles Opera and the National Opera in Washington DC. The incidents date back to the 1980s and 1990s.
Domingo, now 78, has rejected the allegations as ‘deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate’.
The AP says it spoke to ‘almost 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 Domingo.’
The claims against Domingo are that he pestered female colleagues for sex, on some occasions suggesting that this might obtain them better roles. He would kiss women without permission and touch them inappropriately. There is no suggestion that he used physical force. The abuse, the women say, was mental and persistent.
All but one of the women spoke anyonymously. The only one who appeared in the report under her own name was Patricia Wulf, a mezzo-soprano formerly at the Washington National Opera.
Wulf, now 61, said: ‘”Every time I would walk off stage, he would be in the wings waiting for me… He would come right up to me, as close as could be, put his face right in my face, lower his voice and say, “Patricia, do you have to go home tonight?”…’
Wulf added: ‘Absolutely and most certainly, that was sexual harassment. When a man steps that close to you and with a wry smile asks if I have to go home — repeatedly — I can come up with no other conclusion than him wanting to bed me. Especially given his reputation for that.’
Placido Domingo issued the following statement to the AP:
‘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.’
You can read the full AP report, published a few hours ago, here.
The journalists involved, like the sources quoted, have not been named (Update: 24 hours later, the story was bylined Jocelyn Gecker).
Placido Domingo has been married to Marta since 1962. She has been a constant presence in his life, often accompanying him on his travels and directing productions at his behest at LA Opera and Washington National Opera.
After singing more than 100 tenor roles over half a century, Domingo extended his performing career in 2009 by dropping down to baritone roles, which he has performed with mixed results. He also appears in major opera houses as a director and conductor. As one of the most famous names in opera, his presence guarantees box-office recognition.
UPDATE: Placido Domingo: What next?
UPDATE3: Philly dumps Domingo
UPDATE4: LA Opera calls in lawyers
Patricia Wulf’s CV reads as follows: Starting her professional soloist career with the soprano role of Mimi in La Boheme in 1989, Patricia sang the lyric soprano roles from Maine to Florida. She has performed standard roles such as the Countess, Musetta, Papagena, The Second Lady, and Anne in the “Mother of Us All.” Switching to the higher mezzo soprano roles, she incorporated ‘pants roles’ such as Cherubino, Siebel and Nicklausse. At the the Washington National Opera she has sung alongside Placido Domingo multiple times in Don Carlo & Fedora with Mirella Freni. In addition to the WNO, she has performed with Opera Carolina, Summer Opera Theater, Baltimore Opera, Piedmont Opera Theatre, Indiana Opera, and Sarasota Opera as well as additional opera companies and symphonies.