Just in: A star speaks up for Placido Domingo

Just in: A star speaks up for Placido Domingo


norman lebrecht

August 15, 2019

The first to break the silence is Sonya Yoncheva.

Here’s a longer version of her tribute:

‘A real gentleman, philanthropist, artist, charming and peaceful human being, who is devoted to the new generation of singers in the most humble and respectful way. I know Placido for nearly 10 years and it was, it is always a great pleasure to work with him. You can rarely find today a person who respects more his job, his colleagues, the team of each theater and his fans. An irreplaceable figure in our industry, he, more than anybody else, proved that a successful career depends only on your work and your talent, nothing else can help it or destroy it! Placido Domingo.’

There have also been messages from such senior figures as Mara Zampieri and Maria Guleghina.

UPDATE: The Mexican tenor Javier Camarena writes: ‘Maestro Domingo: You know how much I appreciate and admire you. You have my eternal gratitude for your kindness and your always beautiful words regarding my work. I pray to God for the peace in your heart, may his arms embrace and protect your family in this moments of storm.’


Here’s another – Nino Machaidze:

Una delle persone più gentili, umili e professionali che io abbia conosciuto! #ISupportPlacidoDomingo #StandByDomingo

One of the kindest, humble and professional people I’ve known! #Isupportplacidodomingo #Standbydomingo


  • Caravaggio says:

    BS. Everyone and anyone, without exception, is replaceable. To attempt to make Domingo walk on water does not alter that fact.

    • Tito Schipa says:

      And so are you replaceable.
      everyone in this world is replaceable.
      I am replaceable.
      So what? what does that say?
      The angry,hateful comments to one of the great artists that people are making? He who has helped many young singers and kept the art of opera from completely dying.he does not walk in water and nobody would ever say that.
      Have you ever met the man?Have you ever worked with him or sung on the stage with him?
      I have.
      Do you think you really know who he is?
      And are you aware of how many people he has helped.
      I am not condoning his behavior,but are you perfect?
      have you ever done things that you are ashamed of?
      i have.
      I am a human being who has made many mistakes,but the biggest mistake of all is to judge someone without ALL of the information and to not balance the bad with the good.
      Nothing and nobody is completely a black and white case.
      Many,many shades of grey in this life.
      yes,we can bring down a man of 78 and punish him.
      Is this helping the world.?
      And what do we actually get from doing this?
      I guess we can feel noble and above it all.
      Yes,we are perfect.

      • David says:

        “Have you ever met the man?Have you ever worked with him or sung on the stage with him?”

        Yes, I have.

        “Do you think you really know who he is?
        And are you aware of how many people he has helped.”

        Yes. He can be charming. So, too, can many people who abuse their power and position. How many he has helped is not relevant.

        “I am not condoning his behavior,but are you perfect?”

        No one is perfect, and that isn’t relevant. No one is claiming to be perfect. Your first response is not to empathize with the women, but defend the perpetrator. That is more telling.

        “have you ever done things that you are ashamed of?”

        Irrelevant. Except that he isn’t owning up to anything. If he were, that might be relevant.

        “yes,we can bring down a man of 78 and punish him. Is this helping the world.?
        And what do we actually get from doing this?”

        Yes, it does help the world. Because rather than deify one man and consider his needs above those of the innumerable women he’s harassed, groped, objectified, made feel small or only useful for sex, to whom he’s used his power and privilege to make opera houses his hunting grounds, however charming he is, ….we can say no. We can call this out, and remember that the women, in all their numbers, are more important than him, and it sets an example for others.

        Here’s the thing; the reason Trump, Cosby, Epstein, Levine, Savile, the Catholic Church, etc., get away with this shit, is because of arguments like yours. It puts the hypothetical needs of thse famous men and powerful institutions above the rights and needs of victims. There is a spectrum of crimes, to be sure. But it’s all in the same ballpark. Using power and influence to harass and grope free from consequence, and no one does anything.

        You’re enabling that with your words. Stop it right now.

        • JJC says:

          You forgot Clinton.
          You are probably a self righteous democrat who makes a judgement public before it is proven.

          “Intimate lives of the moralizers is usually the most libertine” Larrochefoucault

  • Alexander says:

    wish her happy delivery of a baby

  • Esfir says:

    BRAVA, Sonya !!!

  • Peter says:

    Should we also mention ‘Operalia’ star?
    Let’s not be hypocritical…
    Too bad she is burning out so quick, she really had a notable start a few years ago… wishing her all the best with the baby!

    • Alexander says:

      Elena Stikhina was stunning in Médée in Salzburg. Hopefully Sonya will also show classy things in her singing career

  • mary says:

    Women of the millennial generation are toughest on older women.

  • Ms.Melody says:

    Thank you Sonya,
    As for the others…Rats leaving the sinking ship.
    No surprise with Gergiev and Netrebko. Up to the early 1950s it was OK to denounce your parents and/or spouse as the enemy of the state in the former Soviet union.
    It will take several generations for this mentality to die.
    What is deeply troubling is the knee jerk reaction and universal condemnation without the due process. Surely, the world owes the greatest living artist what is considered a right of every criminal.

    • The View from America says:

      “Surely, the world owes the greatest living artist what is considered a right of every criminal.”

      “Greatest living artist” — hyperbole much?

    • David says:

      Your continual defending of Placido rather than listening to the numerous women who have been harassed by him is so pathetic. Trump supporters, Cosby fans, did the same thing. Such esteemed company you keep.

  • Juan Quejada says:

    Domingo is a product of his generation and of the machismo mentality that is common still in Latin American countries. No excusing his alleged boorish, vulgar behavior, but some cultural sensitivity to his Mexican roots would be appropriate. Having played gigs many times in Mexico I’ve witnessed this kind of behavior frequently and have even been hit on myself from a conductor. Comes with the territory. (And no, I didn’t take him up!)

    • Paul Brownsey says:

      What’s wrong with being hit on? Are we getting to the point when no-one must ever intimate a sexual interest in another?

      • Brettermeier says:

        “What’s wrong with being hit on?”

        Exactly. And, now, what do you say, we could meet later at this nice little motel near the station. A little one-on-one time, if you know what I mean? I could bring my cow costume… Arrrrr!

        • Paul Brownsey says:

          No, thanks.


          You showed sexual interest in me and I said No, thanks.

          What’s amiss in that little exchange?

          • Brettermeier says:

            “What’s amiss in that little exchange?”

            One thumb up, fifteen thumbs down:

            The audience seems to think that there is something “amiss”. Maybe the language. The point is: No matter the choice of words, I could just ignore that “No, thanks”. And continue. And continue. And continue.

            How long do you think it would take to make you feel uneasy?

            For the record, neither do I own a cow costume nor do I have any interest in you whatsoever.

            (Mental note to myself: Buy cow costume 😀 )

      • Brettermeier says:

        “What’s wrong with being hit on?”

        (If it’s like that, it’s wrong.)

      • Bruce says:

        It’s simple, really. If it’s a workplace environment and one of the people has power over the other, then it’s wrong.

      • David says:

        1) Straight men seem to understand perfectly well what appropriate behavior is the minute they enter a gay bar. Or if a gay man in power were to act the same way Placido and others do.

        2) If a man acted the way PD did towards his wife Marta, you can be assured he’d find it highly unacceptable. He understands what is appropriate perfectly well, too.

        3) I’ve been in this business for 25 years–dated colleagues, had lovers–, and I know perfectly well when I’m in a position of power or authority and not to use that, to promise or hint at advancement, not to grope, to pursue women 20+ years my junior with late night invites to hotel rooms, endless texting, pretend to teach them only to see if I can convince them to yield to sexual advances.

        If you’re so ignorant as to what constitutes inappropriate behavior to the point that you create a strawman argument that no one is going to be able to flirt anymore, *you are already terrible at flirting*.

    • david hilton says:

      What’s wrong with “taking him up”?

      Everyone is entitled to make their own decision.

  • Brettermeier says:

    She didn’t even dismiss the allegations, did she? 😉

  • Peter says:

    What I still do not get in Yoncheva’s reaction (and the other C category singers reacting on social media) is the following:
    Domingo DID NOT DENY the accusations, he mentioned these were “inaccurate”, that he thought the relationships were “consensual” and that at that time this was the way to behave if you were a macho tenor adulated by thousands of women, that the “rules and standards by which we are — and should be — measured against today are very different than they were in the past.”
    What more do you want?!???

  • Gustavo says:

    The salvation of grace is the penitent’s reward,
    now he attains the peace of the blessed!

    The curtain falls.

  • Caravaggio says:

    These encomiums have the unintended effect of making these singers sound like Domingo groupies or career wh*res. But just because someone was nice to *you* once does not mean that that certain someone was equally nice and considerate to others behind the scenes here and there over time. See?

  • pastore says:

    First, let’s assume the allegations are true. I realize that attitudes, particulary among Latin men, were different years ago. I also realize that singers are not necessarily going to be celibate while away from spouses/ partners for months on end. And if he had just been a singer, even the world’s greatest tenor that would be one thing. But as the director of two major American companies trying to entice young singers with the promise of work, his behavior, again assuming the truth of the accusations, was contemptible.

  • CHNina says:

    Oh, bravo Camarena! No judgment, in fact no comment on the present controversy at all. Simply a heartfelt message of appreciation and support. Well done, Javier.

  • SEATAC says:

    Complete misuse of the term “breaking the silence.”

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    Esther Cavett mentioned the timeless Jerry Seinfeld quote

    ”I can’t watch a man sing…they get all emotional, they sway, it’s embarrassing!”

    Spot on. They look silly, and the power games and the general behaving like the Count in the Marriage of Figaro are the logical conclusion of it all. I can sympathise with people who don’t like opera

  • We privatize your value says:

    I don’t want to be mean but the days when Domingo was irreplaceable are long, long gone. And even then, at the height of his powers as a tenor, he was not “irreplaceable”. He was just very good, with a great technique and a vast repertoire. Listening to him in his absolute prime as Walther von Stolzing with Jochum in 1976 is still torture because of his thick accent, though.

  • Escamillo says:

    Placido Domingo is an unparalleled star in the operatic firmament and will be celebrated long after this miserable and nasty lot are forgotten. I’m very disappointed with San Francisco Opera management too, but then burning ‘witches’ on the strength of unsubstantiated accusations is an old American tradition, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

    • sycorax says:

      For heaven’s sake, no one doubts his achievements, but they aren’t subject of the debate!
      Wagner was a class-a ar….hole. Bruckner was after very young girls. Schubert’s private life was probably rather fishy, too. It doesn’t devalue their music and their achievements. Nevertheless it wasn’t right!
      The same goes for Mr D.: He obviously abused his position of power, he put women under pressure, they were afraid of him and felt uncomfortable in his presence. Not more, not less – but reason enough to make clear to him that this was not okay and that no achievement rectifies threatening people as fair game and to objectify them for one’s own lust.

      That has nothing to do with “burning witches”, but a lot with respect towards women and finally condemning sexual power games without consent.

      • Brettermeier says:

        That’s kind of what John Borstlap meant. How to deal with an artist’s art.

        Let’s stick with “Burning witches” as a general example.

        Burning witches today is considered (in most part of the world, at least) bad praxis. That wasn’t always the case (and again, in some part of the world, apparently is still a thing).

        The difference is, burning witches today is prosecuted, whereas back then it was the “witches” who were prosecuted.

        Times change, and with it, what’s prosecutable or acceptable.

        It’s somehow interesting how it’s way easier to deal with a long-dead misbehaving (maybe even from a today’s perspective only) composer than a living one. Maybe it’s because the living one violates norms we all are bound to, whereas the long-dead one lived under different rules.

  • mary says:

    “despite my best intentions … 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.”

    HELLO you blind worshippers of Santo Domingo, His Holiness ADMITTED to harassment by today’s standards, but the definition of harassment NEVER changed, what is harassment today was harassment 30 years ago, it’s just the culture of acceptance and turning a blind eye has changed.

    The acolytes of Santo Placido want to talk legacy, let’s talk legacy. His No High C-ness will go down in history as the Second Tenor behind Pavarotti, who overstayed his shelf life by 2 decades.

  • Carlos Montané says:

    I have known Placido since his arrival in New York back in the mid 1960s, as he as well as other young aspiring young singers were trying to break into the operatic business. In later years we crossed way in different theaters and cities in Europe as well as in the US. I recall in several occasions
    when the first word from him was ‘Carlitos’. I just want to say, that during all this years, I never heard of him being the way some ladies are describing him, as I know he has all his live to be a very dedicated to his family, and NEVER heard of a female singer that had experience anything like have been describe in the last few days. Thirty plus years, is a long time for these acusers to come out now. Hard to believe.
    Carlos Montané