As lawyers for LA Opera get to work today examining the sex-pest allegations against Placido Domingo, the consequences of this take-down attempt by the Associated Press and its newspaper clients are being calculated across the opera world.
Triumphalism in the Domingo camp – which has seen major European opera houses rallying to his flag – must be tempered with an awareness of the stain that will cling to his name after he is (almost inevitably) cleared by LA law. Word backstage is that Domingo, 78, will ‘voluntarily’ retire as director of LA Opera, which he co-founded, shortly before his 80th birthday.
The rest is fishwrap. Domingo will never be able to give another interview without being questioned about the AP allegation. He has nowhere to hide.
The European institutions that have backed him, led by the Salzburg Festival, are being called out in US media as insensitive. US insitutions which temporarily barred him, are seen in Europe as over-sensitive. No-one comes out of this with reputation enhanced.
Especially the Associated Press. What were they doing running a story based on eight anonymous denunciations and one (subsequently modified) gentle rebuke from an ex-colleague? What kind of journalism was this – Salem, or Stalinism? Why has the journalist not been called out to defend her practice? It’s a bad day for American journalism when smears come with no name attached.
Saddest of all are the many genuine victims of sexual harrassment in the opera workplace who have seen their just outcry, initially successful, now being trivialised by bad journalism and tossed aside by vested interests in the opera world.
No-one comes out of this a winner.