Everyone’s a loser in the Domingo take-down

Everyone’s a loser in the Domingo take-down


norman lebrecht

August 22, 2019

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.





  • Emil says:

    The attack on the Associated Press is silly. The AP has one of the most robust fact-checking departments in the world, an exceptionally strong legal department, and they would not have published this without amazingly rigorous fact checking. This is the same type of reporting that took down Harvey Weinstein, etc., and no one complained there.

    When it all came down, you said it was an “open secret” that Domingo was persistently harassing, and there have been multiple testimonies of (female) young opera singers warning each other to stay away. And now you say this should have remained unchallenged?

    So you object because most people in the opera world would rather not care.

    • Anna says:

      I think you should stop commenting on these matters. Your posts across this conversation really are incredibly annoying and stupid.

      • Emil says:

        Do please elaborate with specific criticisms.

        • Enquiring Mind says:

          I don’t see anything wrong with the content of your posts. But it does seem like a lot of, possibly, personal attacks on Domingo.

        • Sue Sonata Form says:

          She means, “shut up; your opinions don’t reflect my own”. Standard lefty trope.

          That means you need to keep doing what you do; it’s annoying a Lefty!! That’s what Donald Trump is doing and they’re too dumb to see it!!! LOL

      • Yes Addison says:

        I couldn’t disagree more. Emil has been an oasis of sanity. Your feelings about Domingo may well make what Emil has to say annoying to you, but if you’re going to persuade us that his post is stupid, tell us what he gets wrong about the Associated Press, Domingo, or what Norman has written before?

        As for Norman’s original post, it’s heartening to see him leading the charge against sensationalism and advocating for rigorous journalistic standards. He hasn’t persuaded me that those standards weren’t met here.

        Domingo will never be able to give another interview without being asked about the topic? Don’t famous singers routinely place topics off limits in advance as a condition of interviews?

      • Mr. Knowitall says:

        Really Anna, where would Slipped Disc be without incredibly annoying and stupid comments?

    • Caravaggio says:

      Well stated

    • Bernd says:

      The Associated Press is not a Court of Law. They can’t check facts thoroughly, they can only collect stories of alleged victims, whether these stories be false or true.

      • cyril says:

        Of course journalism can check facts thoroughly (just as detectives and investigators can). What journalism can’t do is render a final judgment the way a court can, or administer justice.

    • sycorax says:

      Thanks, Emil. You’ve saved me the time to write the same.
      I’m a former journalist and I worked for (the German branch of) AP – and a lot of good German newspapers and magazines. I can confirm that the AP has one of the most accurate documentation I’ve ever experienced. They don’t “buy” a line without having proof for it. So attempts to brush away AP articles as “bad journalism” show a certain amount of ignorance.

      Besides: Ms Wulf said he didn’t touch her – but she also said, she was afraid of him (and she’s got a witness who obviously found his attacks inappropriate, too!) – and actually I think that shouldn’t happen.

      And another question: Do the Domingo-defenders really believe it’s okay that he got codes and keys for the wardrobes of female colleagues??? Do they really believe it’s okay to call women a few times in the middle of the night?

      Everyone and its grandmother knows about Domingo’s “womanizing” and though I’m certainly no prude, I think it rather disgusting that he used to play the caring father and loving husband (siring a son out of marriage while his wife was pregnant with No.2) while in the same time chasing everything which wasn’t on a tree at the count of three.

      However, a lot of these episodes can be seen as his private business and if we’d condemn every hypocrite we’d hardly have a few uncondemned people left. The real bad thing for me in this entire affair is how the opera houses behaved.

      Let’s take the Met for an example: Instead of at least trying to protect the young and vulnerables (and in the special case of the Met it wasn’t only a matter of the young women in the house) they obviously played the “we don’t see, we don’t hear, we don’t talk”-game and signaled rather clearly towards their youngsters: “If you’ve got a problem with one of the ‘stars’ in this house it’s yours. We won’t care and we won’t help you.”

      Other houses acted so, too. A friend of mine was a young dancer (Ballet “Eleve”) in one of the big houses – and there was a “star” after her and it wasn’t pleasant and she didn’t feel flattered, but was afraid – however, she says she was fully aware that she’d get the sack when complaining. It was her problem and hers alone.

      That’s what I think scandalous and what I’d like to have changed.

    • Alan says:

      “This is the same type of reporting that took down Harvey Weinstein”

      And this case is similar to Weinstein how?

      • Emil says:

        Man with immense power in his industry, no available channels to complain inside the industry, real potential damage to the career of complainers, open secret in the field, long-standing pattern of behavior, incidents in private with minimal to no witnesses, etc.

    • I hate gossip says:

      Innocent until proven guilty. When journalism wants to take a successful person down, they base their facts on a majority of anonymous people. No one can verify the motivation of these non existent people supposedly remembering precisely what happened to them 30 years ago. Only in America! The Harvey W. Story is filled with real people testimonials and hard core entrapment and sex. Placido did not even touch them. AP is coming out of this as conducting a hateful, nasty, and irresponsible smear campaign.Only a small minded person with a small town mentality will ignore the greatness of the man based on anonymous gossip. We are still going to continue buying Placido’s records and buy seats wherever he performs.

      • Emil says:

        As I said: people don’t care.

      • Emil says:

        The journalists do. Anonymous allegations are anonymised in the writing, but are not anonymous to the journalist and fact checkers. All these stories were extensively vetted by the AP, and multiple mentions of this fact checking are made in the article itself.

      • Z says:

        “hateful, nasty, and irresponsible smear campaign”

        That’s what you are doing here. Calling a reputable news source with vigorous fact-checking running a “smear campaign” is very irresponsible.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        I hate gossip writes: “the motivation of these non existent people”

        Describing the victims as “non-existent people” really is offensive. And sums up the attitude of too many people both here and in the industry.

    • Karl says:

      The AP is caught up in the ‘rape culture’ hysteria that is plaguing society. That became obvious during Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. They published articles such as, “Kavanaugh-Ford hearing: A dramatic lesson on gender roles” — which criticized Kavanaugh for being defiant and lauded Ford for being sympathetic during the hearing. That was highly biased.

    • Anon says:

      For the love of God, ONCE AGAIN – this is not about the AP’s ability to check facts and lawyer up. Why does everyone keep harping on that? That’s an absolute given and it is not what is being criticised here. That has been said over and over again, at least by me, in these threads.

      It was simply a bad judgement call by the AP to run this story, for all the reasons Norman mentions. It doesn’t mean the facts are bad or poorly researched it just means there were a lot of factors, nuances and perspective which they didn’t consider before publishing it.I don’t feel like rehashing everything I’ve said in previous posts but you can go back and read them.

      Norman is spot on.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Drill down on the meaning of ‘open secret’. Somebody has decided to share the secret with the offender. Most likely a ‘victim’ or three in that mix. I’m so bored with this Salem witch-hunting, on steroids.

      Power is an aphrodisiac. Ever heard that before? No, I thought not.

    • Vaquero357 says:

      Folks, Emil has a distinct position on these matters. Maybe he could just put “Ditto what I said before” in future posts?

    • Charles Henry says:

      You are so wrong. Without even talking to one of the greatest people of all time the AP chose to smear him. They are the worse for it. Not Placido. Once again the article shows how bad some supposed victims add to a false narrative. Shame

    • Triggered says:

      “Open secret”. “Multiple testimonies”. Name names in person under oath, or STFU.

  • George says:

    There is no such thing as an “Open Secret”. Either something is a secret or people know.

    • Opera Fan says:

      Open secret is a known and accepted term, so there is such a thing.


      ‘An open secret is a concept or idea that is “officially” (de jure) secret or restricted in knowledge, but in practice (de facto) may be widely known; or it refers to something that is widely known to be true but which none of the people most intimately concerned are willing to categorically acknowledge in public.’

      • guest says:

        open secret = rumor?

      • I hate gossip says:

        But this story is not widely known to be true. It is mostly hearsay. No eye witness has come forth to confirm the story. It is the unverified story of some anonymous people. Can it be more vague and fabricated?

    • Mike Schachter says:

      An open secret is something people know but in public do not discuss

    • I hate gossip says:

      What is the difference between “open secret” and idle gossip?

      • justsaying says:

        come on folks – there is a clear difference, as expressed in the dictionary definition given by another commenter above. This truly was an “open secret” – known by many, not just gossipers, to be true, but willingly kept from public discussion.

  • George says:

    It‘s interesting to see how Plácido Domingo is the first „metoo“ case where the man who is accused is widely supported.
    Not only from
    fans, but also from opera houses, colleagues and many journalists. Not a single person stepped up for any of the other men.

    • George says:

      PS: btw, I think every opera house should have the same respectful environment as can be found among the slipped disc users.

    • Karl says:

      Trump got #metooed and was elected President. That’s pretty wide support. Writer Junot Díaz was cleared and so was Neil deGrasse Tyson. Many fans still show up for Louis CK. Other men in Hollywood who have resumed careers after being smeared: Matthew Weiner, Jeffrey Tambor, Ryan Seacrest, Lars von Trier, Chris Hardwick, and James Franco.

    • Alan says:

      Wide support for a man who always took no for an answer (however slowly)

      Go figure.

      It’ll soon be harassment to ask the time.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Not exactly true. Many politicians are now regretting their too swift condemnation of Al Franken. Too little, too late.

    • Bill says:

      Really? I sure remember a lot of people here speaking up for Gatti and Dutoit. I’m not sure if Levine should be counted in the same bunch, but he also had his advocates here.

    • V.Lind says:

      Must be something about the opera world that Anon has been urging has to be well-known to be written about.

      I can think of one person who had a a high-profile supporter (for a time). She called accusations against her husband “a vast, rightwing conspiracy”! 🙂

    • M2N2K says:

      The reason is clear: the case against PD is much weaker than most of those other ones.

    • Jed says:

      What are you talking about? Lots of people supported serial rapist Bill Cosby. There’s still quite a lot of people that say he’s innocent. I’ve even seen some in the comments of this website. And there’s also people publicly defending celebrities like Kevin Spacey, Woody Allen and Roman Polanski.

  • Toni says:

    Slipped Disc claims to have the “inside track” on everything, including, it seems, inside knowledge of what goes on at AP in terms of fact-checking, editorial decisions, reporter assignments, etc., so much that Norman Lear feels compelled to characterize the reporting as a witch hunt (“Salem”) or worse (“Stalinism”).

    Mr Lear, on your “About” page, you promise your readers “reliable inside information.” Can you do more than accuse the AP of poor journalism? Can you substantiate your claims with actual information about AP’s operations so that we can evaluate your accusations against the AP’s history, which includes 53 Pulitzer Prizes? Many of AP’s stories are sourced from its members; what do you know about this particular story and where it came from? I think that many of your readers would welcome a clear statement.

    As for “everyone’s a loser,” I would speculate that your ad revenues are up with the increased traffic to your site.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      We don’t know to whom you are referring.

      • Frederick says:

        Obviously Toni made a mistake in referring to you as Mr Lear instead of Mr Lebrecht – it happens sometimes with celebrity names.

        Now that we’ve cleared that up, can you respond to what Toni has said?

  • Stephen says:

    I love how you have formed your opinion, Norman, (probably cause he’s an old mate of yours) and now you are trying to sway public view before the results of the investigation are even known.

    It’s very Bill Barr-like of you.

    Everyone in the industry is well aware Domingo is a handsy lech with woman. The time I personally spend at The Met people talked about it constantly.

    As people do about a certain well known male violinist.

    Please stop victim shaming these woman. They are the victims in all this, not your pal.

    • William says:

      How about naming the male violinist so that the AP can get on it. If you don’t do so, how can the career-ruining machine be fired up? And, if you don’t do so, you are part of the problem.

  • Jonathan says:

    The Associated Press has been reporting news factually, impartially and rigorously for over 170 years. Those of us that have worked in the media have a huge respect for their work, because we’ve seen how quickly they’ve responded whenever they got the smallest fact wrong.

    Every story that is submitted by one of their correspondents is proofed and fact-checked like few news organizations ever do. Unlike most online or print publications, the AP will issue a correction at once and will specifically ask their clients to publish corrections.

    For me it is ridiculous to read in this blog about a “take-down attempt by the Associated Press” against Plácido Domingo.The AP reports news and publishes facts, not opinions. It is a fact that nine women are accusing Domingo. It is a fact that some people have corroborated their allegations. And it is a fact that Domingo responded with a statement calling the allegations “inaccurate” (not “false”), and – oh that typical non denial – saying that “is is painful to hear that I may have upset anyone or made them feel uncomfortable”.

    I do not see any take-down attempt. An AP correspondent found a story, she followed it, found similar accusations in nine women, and enough corroboration in “half-dozen other women” and “three dozen other singers, dancers, orchestra musicians, members of backstage staff, voice teachers and an administrator” for the AP to take the decision to publish this story and risk getting sued.

    People here that clearly have no idea about how journalism works will speak of a conspiracy and blame the women who were harassed, the correspondent who wrote the story, her editors and fact checkers, and even the newspapers that published it. Heck, it seems they will even blame the correspondent because she doesn’t usually write about opera so how dare she report about sexual abuse that involves opera? I guess they also expect the police or lawyers who investigate these allegations to be knowledgable of opera or else their work would not be good enough.

    As someone that has worked in both worlds of opera and journalism, I am disgusted by this automatic defense of Domingo – especially when for years people have been whispering about how pushy and creepy he can be.

    By the way, it says a lot about you when you hear that a man has abused one or multiple women and you automatically side with him. You ask why the alleged victims took so long to come forward. You accuse them of trying to make money. You shout about how we should all be innocent until proven guilty. So much concern for the law, and yet you could not care less about the innumerable women who have been sexually abused and never got any justice.

  • Jason S. says:

    Just because some of Domingo’s colleagues have voiced support for him doesn’t mean he is innocent of the accusations against him. If he did sexually harass and abuse the women in question at the L.A. Opera, then he should face the consequences.
    It doesn’t matter who he is. No one is above the standard of acceptable behavior in the workplace.

    • Stephen Diviani says:

      The problem with using terms like ‘sexually harass’ and ‘abuse’ in this context is that it leaves you with no language in which to describe actual ‘abuse’ and sexual ‘harass[ment]’. You have no words left to describe what happened to Yazidi women or the way actual sexual abuse is used as an instrument of war or is used against vulnerable and poor women for whom few speak up. You need to dial down your language.

      • Joe says:

        What an ignorant comment, Stephen Diviani. According to US law sexual harassment includes “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” That is exactly what Domingo is being accused of.

        As for abuse, the US Supreme Court has said: “The general term abuse (must) include emotional abuse as well as physical abuse”. Again, the women making allegations against Domingo have spoken of emotional trauma. So the use of the word abuse, in this instance, is correct.

        The Yazidi women were raped and sexually tortured, and they were victims of war crimes. No one is using any of those terms to describe what Domingo is being accused of.

  • Guest says:

    What credibility could the LA Opera’s lawyers possibly have if their country’s own President boasts openly about grabbing pussy and no investigation or consequences come to him? American law always states that “no one is above the law”. Well, if Trump can get away with worse, why should Domingo – or anyone for that matter – ever be convicted or wrongdoing without bringing down the credibility of the entire legal system? Did Domingo grab women by their genitals and forced himself on them like Trump openly boasts to have done?

    This is not a comment about the merit of the accusations or Domingo’s behaviour. It doesn’t need to get to that point. No legal system can hold a double standard, and at this moment, the American system does. No matter what the LA lawyers find out, it will be pointless because there are no basic legal standards for sexual harassment in the US, or at least none that are applied evenly to the entire population.

    • Cyril says:

      Domingo’s case has nothing to do with the legal system. He is not on trial, therefore he will not be convicted of anything.

      Trump, on the other hand, is still being sued for defamation by a woman who claims he groped her, then called her a liar when she publicly stated he had groped her. This case is still before the court, so Trump has not “gotten away” with that particular allegation, yet.

  • david hilton says:

    Quite a courageous summary of the situation, I’d say. Now this is impressive, and professional, unafraid journalism.

  • Cantantelirico says:

    He is not a co-founder of the LA Opera.

  • Anon says:

    Didn’t take long for industry to try to capitalize…

    The blurb from Atlantic’s marketing for “The Three Tenors Live in Concert” has already been updated on Amazon: “… go behind the scenes with an 80 page book compiled with exemplary thoroughness … sundry pictures, including backstage photographs that leave you guessing where Domingo’s other hand is placed… You’ll be tweeting #methree …”


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  • Nijinsky says:

    Why is the opera world so corrupt?
    I’ve been working on some songs, which got really intensive considering how the subconscious mind gets involved with composing and a whole opening up into another world that doesn’t go along with all of the power and image games we see here again. A world that also tends to the human condition rather than you get to traumatize someone when they’re guilty, as if that magically fixes everything without looking at what went wrong. And then I decided to watch a DVD of Lucio Silla (NOT the Salzburg commemoration of Mozart’s birth DVD where they decide to change the whole story, and instead of Lucio having a change of heart he’s murdered in stark contrast to the music); and then somewhere in the soft cloud of thought that art engenders I saw the 16 year old Wolfgang stepping out into the sunlight, having just finished some of the music of Lucio. Proud that he could let the music speak as he felt the sun against his skin, a little garden bordering the house with all of nature in it, like the score. Like any boy of that age feeling he was giving something to life, asserting his independence.
    Well that was shot down awfully quick. La Finta Semplice had already been shut down with intrigue. The recent Salzburg version of that seems like a joke with instead of the recitatives you have an added miked character sometimes speaking against the music in German while the opera is in Italian along with quite spooky dancing that’s supposed to mirror some deep psychological content but really distracts from the beauty of the music instead like a kleptomaniac grasping at the last wisps of phrases. Lucio wouldn’t completely suffer from intrigue, but the rest of Mozart’s life was a struggle to get his operas performed while every one from that time who now is forgotten didn’t have such problems much.
    The whole insanity of it, and if you say something sane about it you’re made out to be crazy, disruptive.
    Well, things haven’t changed much.

  • Mary's Marti says:

    Sad, very sad, 1st AP attack was so poorly written, that
    someone should had taken a 2nd look & trash it, I Think he is innocent-someone wants him to retired-opera looses.. Mary

  • Christopher D. says:

    Does anyone one remember James Levine, he too professed his innocence but under the bus he went. Why wasn’t he afforded the same presumption of innocence?

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Er…Levine was afforded the same “presumption of innocence”. He was suspended on full pay while his place of work (the Met) conducted an investigation. They concluded his behaviour warranted that he be fired: the courts did not overturn that decision. Both his employer and the courts use “balance of evidence” as the guiding principle in reaching a conclusion.

      This is exactly what happened with Gatti. And is happening with Domingo.

      In the case of Domingo: Salzburg can not fire him since there is no accusation relating to his contract with them (and similarly elsewhere in Europe). They will just not offer him another contract.

  • Mirna Clavell says:

    Sexual abuse allegations are the order of the day. A person can’t look at someone without been accused. Why did these women wait until now? They are probably after money.

    • Ezequiel says:

      Name one person that made money from publicly accusing someone of sexual abuse. Once you go public there is no money to be made. Unlike the British tabloids, the Associated Press does mot pay for interviews. These women already made their statements so now can’t be paid off by Domingo. So exactly how are they going to make money out of this?

      • William says:

        There are many ways to make money from a scandal if you are willing to come forward. It’s tough to be interviewed on TVif you remain, anonymous, however.

    • Karl says:

      A lot of people get brainwashed into thinking past incidents were abusive. One of the Levine accusers said he didn’t realize that he was abused until 30 years later during therapy. Memories change a lot in 30 years. Research has found that even people with phenomenal memory are susceptible to having “false memories,” suggesting that “memory distortions are basic and widespread in humans, and it may be unlikely that anyone is immune,” according to the authors of the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences back in 2013.

      • Cyril says:

        The two very young boys who were having sex with (i.e. being raped by) Michael Jackson also didn’t realize they were being abused until they were adults and had gone through therapy. Jackson told them they were in love, and they believed him. It never occurred to them in the moment that it was abuse, because they were being told it was real love.

        Just to give you some perspective, Karl.

  • I’m having trouble following Norman’s standpoint on this. It is not at all unusual for journalists to not mention the names of women subjected to sexual abuse. That’s virtually standard practice. I’m sure AP has their names and carefully interviewed them and cross checked their statements, but did not mention their names at the alleged victims’ request. The big MeToo article by Anne Midgette in the Washington Post followed the same practice, as have countless other articles in recent years about sexual abuse in classical music

    I also haven’t notice exceptional support for Domingo. I know of three institutions that have faced legal backlashes for dismissing alleged abusers, even though they had solid cases. I’ve noticed that since then, institutions are taking a more cautious and quiet approach in these matters. Hence the various opera houses waiting for the outcome of the LA Opera investigation.

    When 8 women speak out the case would normally be pretty solid–and especially with a cautions news agency like AP. If Domingo misbehaved, he will have to face the consequences like everyone else.

    • Anon says:

      Your perspective is always valuable, William. I’m glad you weighed in. You’re one of the most qualified people I can think of to comment on this.
      But I think you’ve overlooked a couple of points.

      The support for Domingo is outside of the US right now. It’s overwhelming. Every non-US opera company on Domingo’s calendar has chosen to keep their engagement with him. Many are coming out in the press to say that they are paying no heed to this AP article, for whatever reasons. Colleagues have come forward in droves to support him. There has not been a single corroboration (except for one aging actress in Mexico) that I know of to support Domingo’s behavior outside of the US. You have to check social media, or foreign press reports to see this. But it’s definitely there.

      The anonymous accusations, I suspect, are probably standard for US journalism, but do not always hold elsewhere in the world. In Domingo’s native Spain, they are frowned upon and not considered to be credible. This follows to the letter Spanish law and their justice system. It’s doubtful that they’d accept anonymous accusations in any situation. When the press is attacking an honored native son, they sure as hell are not going to buy it. Spain is outraged about this incident. They are huge classical music consumers, are social media savvy and have a flourishing and astute press network of their own, who are pushing back bigtime on these accusations.

      Levine is American. If a US press source says he did it, most people wouldn’t argue. Dutoit and Gatti had similar cases surfacing in Europe after their US based MeToo articles came out to corroborate the accusations. Domingo’s case doesn’t have that European corroboration. AP should have had a little more foresight and possibly anticipated that, IMHO.

      I am not a journalist, but these are points it seems to me should have been considered more carefully by AP before publishing the article. It could also be why, as someone suggested, Anne Midgette had this information in hand against Domingo but ultimately did not write the article. She’s a first rate journalist and author familiar with the world of professional music and she made a wise decision, as it turns out.

      • José Ignacio Gómez says:

        “The anonymous accusations […] In Domingo’s native Spain, they are frowned upon and not considered to be credible.”

        What are you talking about? All victims of sexual abuse in Spain have a right to remain anonymous. The highest profile case of sexual abuse in Spain, the rape of a woman by the five men (know as La Manada) was in the news all over the world and the name of the victim was never published by the press.

        • Anon says:

          Her name has been protected by the press, but she had to identify herself to the police in order to make the original denuncia.

          She also had to appear in public in court to make the accusations. All of that would be public record, I’m sure, if you know where to look.

      • The term “anonymous accusers” originated with Norman’s posts. The accusers are not anonymous; they are unnamed. There’s a big difference. AP would never publish a sexual abuse story based on accusations of sources that would not identify themselves. As noted by Mr. Gómez, in Spain and virtually all of Europe, and in the USA, the victims of sexual abuse and assault are seldom, if ever, mentioned in the news.

        The Europeans have remained more muted than the Americans in all of the MeToo cases. So here too, one cannot make too much of their reticence, which is par for the course.

        It struck me that La Scala said it will wait for the LA report–an implication that they will act on it if it is found that Domingo seriously misbehaved–since Italy is one of the more anti-MeToo countries in Europe.

        The thing that bothers me about the MeToo movement and its investigations is how the those who were for decades the facilitators of sexual abuse in the arts world have been overlooked. All those administrators and colleagues who never intervened when people– mostly the vulnerable young–were deeply harmed. The Lara St. John case at Curtis has become a good example since the Philadelphia Inquirer researched and reported the institutional background in the story.

        Sadly, that remains an exception. I have seen law reports where I know that the administrators knew what had been going on and yet consciously helped to keep things quiet. Sometimes they did this to help the abusers, and sometimes to protect the name of their institutions. Sometimes both. The Curtis Institute is the only one that has really been exposed for this behavior.

        If administrators had been doing their job, they would have read the riot act to Domingo and all the others decades ago. A few prominent cases would have stopped the behavior. Instead, these institutions let the abuse continue, and when the house of cards finally fell, had law reports written that singled out the abusers while covering up institutional irresponsibility.

        • The Original Anon says:

          To Sr. Gomez and Mr. Osborne – the difference, as I see it, between Spain and the US on this is that in the US, victims’ identities are known and guarded by only by the press (the AP in this case). That puts a lot of blind trust in the press that they do indeed exist.

          In Spain, as I understand it, victims’ identities would have to be known and guarded by the police and the courts as well as the press. That gives a lot of credibility to the fact that they are truly “unnamed” and not anonymous.

          I don’t believe a public figure would ever be tried and condemned in Spain just on the basis of what the press reports. It would have to go through the appropriate channels of the police report and the justice system, which require the victim to be identified. At that point the press reports on it and yes, maintains the anonymity of the victim.

          In the US we are doing a “trial by press” with Domingo, whereby the AP is acting as judge, jury and executioner with no other external checks and balances. We are trusting the integrity of the AP that the anonymous victims exist and are simply unnamed. We’ve allowed Domingo to be condemned on the basis of a press report.

          In Spain, the police and the judicial system would be guarding the victims’ identities not the press. A defendant’s guilt would be determined in a court of law, not a newspaper. It has much more integrity and I can understand why Spaniards might be apalled at how this case has been brought forward.

  • Jedidiah says:

    I don’t think Norman has any business speaking about journalistic integrity or excellence, particularly as it relates to the voices of 9 women who were brave enough to share their testimonies, even (mostly) anonymously as well as the countless others who were interviewed.

    If he were paying attention, he would realize that the journalist actually spent months researching and bringing the greatest level of detail possible while still respecting the privacy of the women who were interviewed.

    Frankly, in the #MeToo era, journalists have had to wade into unprecedented waters to represent the voices of the abused, mistreated and maligned (though Norman wouldn’t know anything about that…) knowing the consequences on the accused may be life changing.

    Each of his posts around this issue is tainted with his clear derision for the entire #MeToo movement. Perhaps if he were to take a moment to consider what these women have been through and add the word empathy to his vocabulary, his readers might view his posts with a little bit more journalistic integrity.

    • Anon says:

      Disagree. If you follow Slipped Disc, you’d know that this opinion is a complete about-face for Mr. Lebrecht. He has historically – at least as long as I’ve been reading Slipped Disc, which is a no. of yrs. – been one of Domingo’s harshest critics. Up until now, Slipped Disc has pretty consistently been critical of Domingo at every turn. Mr. L. has also written with compassion and understanding and even outrage about what other MeToo victims have suffered, both men and women.

      I don’t think Mr. L. is defending Domingo at all here. I suspect he doesn’t even like him. I think he’s commenting on the journalism involved in creating this article, which is a valid observation.

  • Isaiah says:

    The problem with anonymous finger pointing is that it is too easy to do—and therefore too easy to falsely accuse. I prefer the constitutional right of due process first, followed by proof, and followed then by retribution.

  • sam says:

    Typical Slipped Disc pearl-clutching hypocrisy: If it was illegitimate for the AP to run the story, it was illegitimate for SD to re-run the illegitimate story.

    It’s like Trump’s defense of his retweets. “It wasn’t my tweet it was a re-tweet”.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      No, it isn’t. We cannot ignore the story once AP has put it out. But we have a right to question AP’s methodology.

      • V.Lind says:

        What, “What were they doing running a story based on eight anonymous denunciations and one (subsequently modified) gentle rebuke from an ex-colleague?”

        That question has been answered time and again on these pages by people who are journalists, starting with the fact that the names of the sources are known to AP and their accounts have been checked and double-sourced.

        I went through all this a few days ago, as have others. I find absolutely nothing wrong with the methodology — as I said previously, it is about textbook in its approach. And I find it astonishing that you seem to buying into this ludicrous notion that this is a takedown. No serious journalistic enterprise would countenance any such thing. The tabloids — especially the English ones — do it as a matter of what they would laughingly call principle. What on earth do you think is in it for AP to take down an aging opera star (and a fading one, at that)? That is not how journalism works in respectable operations.

      • Anon says:

        Exactly. Bravo, Norman!

      • Z says:

        “But we have a right to question AP’s methodology.”

        You do, except it is utter nonsense. An online gossip tabloid questioning the methodology of an reputable, established news agency that has a history of over 170 years, without any solid evidence/fact checking/interviews, wow, that’s very impressive.

        • norman lebrecht says:

          Second rule of journalism: past performance is no cover for present error.

        • david hilton says:

          So should this online tabloid that sets the standard internationally for discussion of the classical music world not question the AP when they publish clearly erroneous facts about Mr. Domingo, such as the claim they printed today that he would be singing the ‘title role’ in Luisa Miller in Salzburg? The AP is far from infallible.

  • imollyq says:

    I was very disappointed to see the San Francisco Opera condemned Domingo and canceled
    his performance without the slightest investigation. In this country we are still innocent until proven guilty.

  • Helen Caro says:

    Many sopranos are defending Domingo, but these are well known opera stars. Allegedly the opera singers that he has propositioned are young and not well known. They are far needier to sing with him, get jobs he offers, etc. If this is true l hope he is publicly disgraced, sued and forced into retirement.

  • Una says:

    There are no winners in these sex cases as far as I see it and from having knowing some in the music world and visited three in prison. Even if he’s found to be not guilty like Cliff Richard, lives are ruined regardless on both sides and people are never the same or live their lives in any peace again. But then the ones I know were accused of being child sex abusers not sex abusers of grown up adults.

  • David K says:

    Interesting. I haven’t actually read the articles by Associated Press but from what I an tell, all they did was report on a story where the alleged victims wanted it exposed and were directly consulted with. Was Domingo consulted before they published? If he wasn’t, it seems slightly irresponsible, not terribly so but I don’t they have to actually consult him. The REALLY irresponsible version of this is what happened to Geoffrey Rush.

  • Jo says:

    Unless you’re in the classical music world you might not know how long these rumors have swirled. People who know Domingo personally and have worked closely with him are some of the ones whispering about how young females were given ultimatums.

    I know many supporters of his currently have bruised egos not because their angry over the allegations but more because they can’t handle the betrayal of giving their live and support to one of their favorite artists and this is how he thanks them.

    I firmly believe every accusation. Decades-long rumors aren’t just angry bitter people. He’s a known womanizer in the industry. the industry just wants it to go away because they stand to lose a lot.

    • David hilton says:

      Ok then, put up or shut up: You claim to have personal knowledge of “People who know Domingo personally and have worked closely with him .
      . . . whispering about how young females were given ultimatums.” Ok then. Who are these whispering colleagues of Domingo’s who know about these (not previously unreported) ultimatums given to young singers. Name one! Go ahead. If you do, you will advance the debate on this issue immensely. If you do not, you will justify me and everyone else reading your comment in concluding that you have made it up, that you are passing on a fantasy that you or someone else has concocted, and that you should not be believed.

      There is an expression for tales that depend for their credibility on the veracity of what “a friend of a friend told me.” They are called “urban legends.” They are the opposite of what is generally called “the truth”.

      • Anon says:

        This is a good point. People often like to show that they are in the know and talk about “open secrets” which have been known about for years, when it’s actually the first they’ve heard of it. I’m not saying that’s the case here but it’s worth remembering you can’t take anything, especially on the internet, at face value. It’s the nature of urban myths, as you say. You can take a view if you weren’t there but that doesn’t make it the truth. Even if you were there, it could still be a matter of interpretation, unless guilt is unequivocal.

      • V.Lind says:

        It is not up to Jo to out women who confided in her. There are a lot of expressions that cover that.

        How many “fantasies” have to be “concocted” before you begin to believe they might be true? I have always been an admirer of Domingo, and I read the AP story with horror. But I found it entirely credible — in large part due to the thoroughness of the reporting. And because the phenomenon of men going after women who may resist them and holding out carrots or sticks is not unknown. Too many people have come forward saying that his sexual predilections were an open secret in the industry.

        Everyone loved Jimmy Savile too.

      • Save the MET says:

        Ok, you want a name, here is one of the obvious ones personally nurtured by Mr. Domingo. He was making an awful lot of stops for gigs in Santiago, Chile for many years. It kept her career going much longer than perhaps it might have under other circumstances.






        • david hilton says:

          All that you have alleged is that these two singers might have had a relationship. Presumably a consensual one. As have many opera singers. It’s a long way from having an affair to being abused. But you seem to confuse the two.

          • Anon says:

            Precisely. What exactly is he accused of? Hearsay by nature is imprecise and prone to inaccuracies. Being promiscuous never used to be a crime. Sexual harassment is, and always should have been, one. Persistence is a two-edged sword – positive when it’s in the pursuit of a cure for cancer (or forging a glittering career), negative when it applies to sexual pestering. When detailed evidence is presented, we can judge which side of the line Domingo was on.

  • BrianB says:

    Excellent analysis, Norman. It also boils down to the fact that in this case the adults in the room are the Europeans. And that Salem witch trial hysteria was an American (Puritan) phenomenon. And all too often repeated in our history in one form or another.

  • Rodrigo says:

    Today’s news revealed a massive new support group for Domingo in Madrid: the ultra right group Hazte Oir, an ultra right conservative, pro-Catholic and pro-family group, has organized a petition with 14,000 signatures decrying the “lynching of Placido Domingo by extreme left feminists”. Here’s the report. https://www.europapress.es/cultura/musica-00129/noticia-14000-personas-reclaman-asamblea-madrid-mocion-repulsa-linchamiento-contra-placido-domingo-20190823123857.html?fbclid=IwAR

  • Edgar Self says:

    “Chicago Tribune” headline today above an abuse story (not this one): “A Rush To Non-Judgment”.

  • Brahms says:

    Minimizing the AP’s work is a mistake here. It wasn’t just “eight anonymous sources,” but they had thirty corroborating sources from people who knew about this at the time. You might as well say “FAKE NEWS!” Come on, Norm, we all know you’re a trashy gossip rag, but this is beneath you. Domingo was a creep, maybe not as much of a predator as Levine or Preucil, but still a creep, and there’s nothing wrong with having (finally) some accountability for that. Jesus Christ this is not so hard to get right in 2019.

  • Andrew says:

    A bad day for journalism? There is no longer journalism in the US.

  • Save the MET says:

    Mr. Domingo’s sexual escapades as widely reported have been well known in the music world for years. Like Levine, opera companies have known about both of them for decades and chose to ignore their activities. There is a difference however, Levine was always respected by most as an exceptional musician but was not beloved. Domingo conversely has always been a beloved figure, a “rock star” of the opera world. While he never reached the level of love that swirled around Pavarotti, he was definitely a strong number 2. If you meet him, he is also a genuinely good guy. He’s not a Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, or Charles Dutoit who were universally regarded as creepy, or even worse, a Jeffrey Epstein. This makes it harder for those who did not know to accept he was a serial philanderer and while I know for a fact a number of women in the music world were delighted to have liaisons with him, based upon the recent revelations, some did not. My question though is, why did they wait until now, several years after the #metoo movement exploded to reveal themselves? Domingo is still busy singing baritone roles and waving a stick. He still has his singing competition which has launched some important careers. His wife for the last 10-15 years has followed him like a hawk, lurking back stage to the point that she was given the nickname “The All Seeing Owl”, or simply “The Owl” at the Metropolitan Opera. I am all for victims of sexual harassment coming forward, no one should ever face that, nor should they feel their careers would be jeopardized if they don’t give in to creepy old men’s sexual advances. However, the timing is bizarre and it gives one pause to question why it is happening now at this time, well after the bulk of these accusations began. After all, the cognoscenti knew this was going on for years. The opera houses that have waved his flag for years and profited on his art certainly can’t afford yet another big embarrassment, especially the MET where he has been super busy if you get my drift for decades.

    • V.Lind says:

      Seems to me you almost answer your own question. Why did they wait so long?

      You write: “…the cognoscenti knew this was going on for years. The opera houses that have waved his flag for years and profited on his art certainly can’t afford yet another big embarrassment…”

      Asked and answered. For all its sins, the MeToo movement has offered a new climate in which institutions realise that they can no longer shut a blind eye to this sort of thing. And one in which women realise that they are not alone, that they will have some support, including in some cases from the institutions that have sheltered the problem, and — except apparently on Slipped Disc, where the standards of journalism are so rigorous that a scrupulously researched and documented article by a serious journalist is felt to be a sloppy takedown — will not be disbelieved.

      As for your cognoscenti and apparently not-to-be-embarrassed opera houses, SCREW THEM, and if I thought I could get away with it, I would make that already vulgar expression even more violent. Their potential embarrassment and/or potential losses ARE NOT more important than the safety and well-being and emotional security of women who work under their auspices. It is OBSCENE to suggest so.

      As for the attitude of SD expressed above, I find it the most craven way of abstaining from taking a view on Domingo — via a totally spurious attack on credible journalism. I have much more respect for people who (naively, at best, in my view) actually defend Domingo. I think they are in denial, but I, too, was not there. I just find it odd to believe women in Europe who have nothing to do with this story rather than women in the US who do.

  • Meg Rogers says:

    i do not argue here about the journalism. i am not a journalist,no official experience for that,but bit of sense. i feel this is kind of wasting energy to write,because i know sadly but clearly –no one would be the winner–! i am a musician, and have been quite close to one of the important opera houses in Europe, because of my ex-husband and some friends.—i believe it starts from the problematic opera world’s system with the mentarity.(music theatres as well)i say VERY roughly, but the interest and the purpose of the director of good opera house is money. it is even not 50%,50% of art/music and money. money first then art/music. they call it –reality–. otherwise they would not keep the opera house/theatre itself. it is historically how they believe. therefore excellent/public beloved conductors and singers who provide the golden-eggs is the most important thing to keep.with that attitude those performers get the power easily. girls compete to sleep with star class treated conductors and singers for their sake of career. its a easiest way and also most miserable way,with many meanings, to get their role on the podium. the reality of their -moralistic life- starts from this point of view.the world of the opera is not the healthy,beautiful planet. and nobody tries to clean it. the attitude of the money and golden eggs is completely accepted.—-some years ago Domingo run through Salzburg town where car must not get in. and Wien Phil’s responsible person,who is a reasonable musician and the orchestra business leader,protected him on the main news papers. no sorry at all,just the excuse that he was in hurry to go to his Probe or something. this is already enough proof,how he has been protected by the authority of the music organization.and its not only him. just he has been so too famous. it is also the responsibility of the audience that often called -fan-. its not different from Hollywood. star, red carpet…… the main problem is MUSIC is not the music any more. its too far from the character of music itself. and it is the true cancer.——it did not happen in few years,but its worse and worse, because the majority of the people left the theatre life. TV is the hero. and the theatre,specially opera has been having such problem ages and ages. the great singers have been always powerful with the quite musical meaning,less money involved from now. they were the people’s adoration. all together how it could be changed so easily!?—–as the last thing, there is also BIG difference between America and Europe. if i may say VERY simply, America has the tradition of puritanism. comparing from that,Europe has been rather decadent. well i am afraid, it would not be changed. but it does not mean i am accepting the smell of the stinky smoke. it should be at least better! *so girls stood up after many years is not bad at all. probably they needed the courage to do so. because they could be accused quite easily more than Domingo himself. when woman is raped,normally they could not be won,even in the court.*****there exists still the tradition of rotten Christianity’s mentality,that man could not make sex with woman, if woman would not accept the man! all together it is the huge theme! its not just Domingo’s FAMOUS naughty behavior.