Eight singers have raised claims of sexual harrassment against the powerful ex-tenor Placido Domingo. The substance is that Domingo pursued the women for sex with the promise of giving them better roles and a suggested threat of demotion. In a milieu where many singers never know where their next role is coming from, this approach represents an abuse of authority.
Domingo has denied misuse of his power.
The spotlight turns now onto two of the biggest opera companies in the United States, the Washington National Opera, where Domingo was artistic director from 1997 to 2011, and Los Angeles Opera, where he was artistic consultant in the 1980s, rising to artistic director and, from 2003 to the present day, general director.
Both companies will be obliged to investigated the allegations. Along the form of previous #Metoo cases, they will appoint a firm of ‘independent lawyers’ – usually a company that has acted previously for the board – and the issues will be subjected to professional scrutiny.
Depending on the outcome of the investigations, the boards will announce their decisions regarding Placido Domingo, as well as a raft of new measures to protect staff from harrassment in future.
Domingo, 78, is singing at the end of this month in Verdi’s Luisa Miller at the Salzburg Festival. On September 18, he will appear at the opening concert of the Philadelphia Orchestra and on September 25 in Macbeth at the Metropolitan Opera.
All of these organisations will reassess their connections with Domingo in light of the developing situation. Domingo’s denial of misconduct, along with his assertion that standards of behaviour have changed over four decades, must also be taken into account.
Domingo has many friends in music and beyond who are likely to stand by him.
The conductors Daniele Gatti and Charles Dutoit, both accused of sexual msconduct, have since resumed stellar careers.
A movie of Domingo’s 50th-year gala at the Arena di Verona is due to open at 500 US cinemas on September 7.
UPDATE2: Philly dumps Domingo.