Vienna statement on Placido Domingo

Vienna statement on Placido Domingo


norman lebrecht

August 30, 2019

The Vienna State Opera has issued this statement of its position:

With regard to the allegations of sexual impropriety on the part of Plácido Domingo announced in the media in mid-August and which are unrelated to the Wiener Staatsoper, the management of the opera house and the management of Bundestheater Holding see no legally tenable reason not to fulfil existing contracts with Plácido Domingo. Domingo’s planned appearances as Macbeth in October 2019 and as
Nabucco and as conductor of La traviata in June 2020 will therefore take place.

“I was very concerned when I learned of these allegations from the media. I am not in a position to judge the specifics and also do not want to play them down. At the same time, I will also not pre-judge Plácido Domingo. Austria is a state governed by the rule of law; the facts presented to date tell me that a) no charges or police investigation currently exist against him; b) the Los Angeles Opera, where unlike the Wiener Staatsoper he plays a role in the decision-making, has launched an investigation; c) the presumption of innocence applies; and d) we know of no allegations in our area of responsibility. Indeed, Plácido Domingo is valued both artistically and as a human being by all in this house. We shall therefore honour our existing contracts with Plácido Domingo,” explained Staatsoper director Dominique Meyer.



  • Caravaggio says:

    A predictable cowardly stance from a member of a self-protecting group of insiders. If Herr Meyer had cojones he would announce that Domingo’s superannuated baritenor is no longer (never was) artistically justifiable. Oh but wait. We are considering trivial things like sexual harassment accusations, not important artistic matters.

    • Nik says:

      Conflating these two issues isn’t helpful in the slightest, quite the opposite.

      • Bettina says:

        Actually, they are quite closely related, as it is narcissism and an inflated sense of self that makes people think that they are always attractive to all people at all times, whether as an old tenor pretending to be a baritone, or a person assuming that all others find him desirable physically and that he is justified in behaving accordingly

        ego / narcissism / distorted sense of self

        • John Borstlap says:


          But it is also understandable with singers: their instrument is themselves, so their ego is the thing they play upon, and are dependent upon, which has thus to be cultivated, stimulated, preserved, and protected against draughts and cigars and cats, etc. etc.

          When stars are continuously surrounded by sycophants, it is the environment as well which carries responsibility if things go wrong. But there are enough stars who have their feet firmly on the ground of normal reality, because they run a private life with all the normal challenges.

        • Tamino says:

          That is true. You only forget the countless numbers of women, the groupies of the classical music biz, who throw themselves at such inflated narcissists, in order to satisfy their own greed for a bit of narcissistic gratification. No excuses, but you need a very strong and principled character as a man, to not get blurry vision about who wants it and who might not. It’s just dishonest, to in the end lay blame for the development of a personal disorder at one person only, if hundreds contributed to it.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Don’t rob Caravaggio of his perennial sense of outrage and victimhood; he may have little else going for him. He may never have been taught that personal choices can influence very much the way we negotiate life and that strength is very necessary in dealing with the depredations of life.

    • George says:

      Caravaggio, you always sound like a frustrated singer or conductor who never had any success in life and therefore needs this forum to feel at least a little bit important by putting each and everybody down. It’s pathetic.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Yes, that’s quite correct. The flag-carrier for victimhood will always find followers. That avoids the rather unpleasant necessity of having to take personal action.

        Domingo and most other males are proxies for Donald Trump; in criticizing them most sad people feel they are putting the finger up to DT.

        Scoop: DT is onto the Left and is laughing at them, sending them into paroxysms of self-flagellation because the ‘deplorables’ knew better. We outsiders, in turn, are loving that!!!

        • Laurence says:

          You repeat this nonsense about a connection between the “Left” fingering DT (and “most other males”!) and “sad people” criticizing Domingo’s behavior (a theory you have elsewhere attributed to a ten-year-old relative, but now claim for yourself). DT may be laughing at the left (while the G7 laughs at him), and you obviously enjoy drinking the tears of liberals and self-identifying as a deplorable, but since when did sexual harassment become a right versus left issue? Or are all conservatives just automatically on the side of piggish behavior without exception? I had actually given the right the benefit of the doubt on this issue, but you are doing your best to dissuade me.

    • 32VA says:

      A predictably snide comment from you. No-one here would miss you, if you just left.

    • BastaCosi says:

      damn that’s some dumb nonsense.

    • EagleArts says:

      Cowardly? You’re just totally miserable…..
      Go out and get some badly needed sunshine.

    • Maria says:

      You obviously know far more about Domingo’s private life than the rest of us or Vienna, even more than Prince Andrew re Epstein’s. Taking part in anonymous character assasination on hearsay, ignorance and newspapers and blogs says far more really. Innocent until proven guilty. Funny how all this happens in America.

  • The Vienna Philharmonic, which serves as the Vienna State Opera Orchestra, did not hire its first woman aside from harpists until 2007. As in Salzburg, we see where Domingo goes for his alibis.

    And of course, in Austria, “a state governed by the rule of law,” as Dominique Meyer puts it, this egregious discrimination and misogyny went on for decades and the law was simply ignored until protests *outside* Austria forced them to change. Just more of the bald-faced hypocrisy one expects from Vienna, a city where the the neo-Nazi “Freedom Party” averages around 30% or more of the vote.

    Now let’s all look the other way and pretend we don’t see anything…

    • Caravaggio says:

      I don’t know if things have changed in the country but at some point somewhere between the 1970s and 90s, maybe beyond that, it became game to game the system so that roughly 50% of the population made a living from an under the table economy, complete with rampant tax avoidance. Some “rule of law”.

    • Caravaggio says:

      Let us also recall that Hitler was German and Beethoven Austrian.

      • Tiredofitall says:

        Ah, yes. Let’s by all means bring Hitler into the discussion. Always a good ploy.

      • david hilton says:

        Not that it’s really relevant, but Hitler was Austrian. Born and raised in Linz, Austria’s third largest city, he did not move to Germany until he almost 25 years old.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          No…Hitler was German since that is how he identified himself. German speaking people in Austria-Hungary almost always thought of themselves as German before the 1914-18 war. Being Austrian, and that identity excluding being German really only started after 1945.

      • Elizabeth Owen says:

        Hitler was Austrian, born in Branau.

      • Ms.Melody says:

        Hitler was born in Austria, raised near Linz and moved to Germany in 1913.
        Beethoven was born in Bonn and is German. He moved to Vienna at age 21 to study with Haydn.

      • Kurt Waldheim, the former UN secretary general and president of Austria hid his complicity in Nazi war crimes and was exposed late in his career. He was a lieutenant in army intelligence, attached to brutal German military units that executed thousands of Yugoslav partisans and civilians and deported thousands of Greek Jews to death camps from 1942 to 1944.

      • Hmus says:

        “Adolf Hitler was born on 20 April 1889 in Braunau am Inn, a town in Austria-Hungary (in present-day Austria), close to the border with the German Empire.”

      • james meredith says:

        Beethoven was German, moved to Vienna in his early twenties. Hitler was born in Austria.

      • barry guerrero says:

        Meaning? . . what, that Hitler was Austrian (which he was) and Beethoven was German (which he was)?

      • Peter says:

        You have that backwards…

      • Bone says:

        So noted.
        What the heck it has to with this current situation is beyond me, though.

    • John Borstlap says:

      I thought that Vienna itself was quite liberal, and thah the Freedom Party (what’s in a name?!) had their base predominantly in the provinces. Vienna is very cosmopolitan, a condition not shared in the countryside.

      • william osborne says:

        The FPOe averages about 30% of the Viennese vote. Bigotry in Austria, as in most places, is not limited to the countryside.

  • Pedro says:

    Mr. Meyer is a man of taste. He was attending today’s Haitink concert in Salzburg.

  • Karl says:

    “Austria is a state governed by the rule of law…”

    I wish it had stayed that way in the USA. Now you get trial by media or worse – trial by twitter.

    • Caravaggio says:

      Now you also get trolling and presidency by twitter.

    • Laurence says:

      It was the rule of law that allowed Jeffrey Epstein to get off with a slap on the wrist and a plea bargain. It was the Miami Herald—that terrible “media”—who finally got him called to account. But perhaps you feel he was treated unfairly, the way poor Placido is? And all men are?

    • Tamino says:

      the lynching mobs are back.
      Probably a normal occurrence in public spaces, where law enforcement oversight is weak. Today that space is the internet and social media sphere.

  • Mark says:

    Whaddaya know, the Vienna State Opera is run by adults … Kudos !

  • Mick the Knife says:

    A voice of reason. I’m thankful for people like this to stand against mob rule by those who can not act beyond their own personal bias.

  • Alan says:

    It is absolutely staggering that there are people who think anonymous accusations should be enough to ruin a man’s career.

  • ondrej says:

    pfuj! Typical Austrian behaviour.

  • Emil says:

    It takes some daring to state that “Plácido Domingo is valued […] as a human being by all in this house” when he is accused, in fact, of being as far from a valued colleague as could be. Would it had been that hard to craft a statement without such a callous statement?

  • minou says:

    Bravo Wiener Staatsoper!

  • EagleArts says:

    You must realize the Mr. Meyer has much more experience in institutional operations than any of those commenting, especially Caravaggio:

    Dominique Meyer (born 1955, Alsace, France) is a French politician, economist, academic, and opera director. From 1989-1990 he was General Director of the Paris Opera and from 1994 to 1999 he was General Director of the Lausanne Opera. He also served as a Board Member for the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne from 1995-1999. From 1991-2007 he served as President of the Ballet Preljocaj, and from 1999-2010 he was General and Artistic Director of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. He was President of the French Youth Orchestra from 2001-2010. Since 2010 he has served as the Director of the Vienna State Opera. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the European Academy of Music Theatre and the Conservatoire de Paris.[1]

    While working as an academic, Meyer also served as a commissioner of the French Ministry for the Economy and Finance under Minister Jacques Delors from 1980-1984 where he oversaw the departments of electronics and computer industries. He notably oversaw the development of the world’s second (and France’s first) CD factory during his tenure. He left that department to take a post in the French Ministry of Culture where he served as an advisor in the cabinet of Minister Jack Lang from 1984-1986.[1]
    Meyer served on the advisory board of the Paris Opera from 1986-1988, and was appointed General Director of the company in 1989. He left that post to become a director in the cabinet of the Ministry of Communications and Media under Minister Catherine Tasca. He then served as an advisor to Prime Ministers Edith Cresson and Pierre Bérégovoy from 1991-1993. From 1994 to 1999 he was General Director of the Lausanne Opera. He also served as a Board Member for the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne from 1995-1999. From 1991-2007 he served as President of the Ballet Preljocaj, and from 1999-2010 he was General and Artistic Director of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. He was President of the French Youth Orchestra from 2001-2010. Since 2010 he has served as the Director of the Vienna State Opera.[

  • Florestan83 says:

    More tone deaf journalism from Lebrecht. Kathryn Lewek gets body shamed by the press at Salzburg Festival and it hits the international news, but all Lebrecht can bang on about is the “injustice” done to his bosom buddy. Talk about fake news. I’ve had it with this terrible blog and this hackneyed journalist.

  • Hans says:

    I had vowed to myself that I would abstain from all comments on the Doningo affair. Blessed be those who know the truth and are (self-?) righteos enough to pronounce themselves one way or the other. But as an Austrian who has consistently and especially over the last couple of years opposed all tendencies to drift further to the right (luckily for the world such tendencies happen only in Austria and not elsewhere, least of all in the US), I object strongly to completly wrong comments like the one from William Osborne. I dislike the FPÖ (so called freedom party) as much as anyone who is firmly on the ground of democrocacy and human rights but they are certainly not Neo-Nazi and they definitely and luckily did not get “30 % or more” of the votes, not in Austria and even less in Vienna. Please, don’t insult indicriminately all Austrians with your unqualified statements.

    • william osborne says:

      As I’ve noted in posts on other recent threads, the Freedom Party is neo-Nazi, even if it tries to keep its polemic discreet. The party’s was founded in 1956 by an SS officer. It’s most famous leader, Jorg Haider, praised Hitler’s economic policies, referred to the SS as heroes, and called the concentration camps “punishment camps.”

      Last year, a high-ranking Freedom Party official had to resign because his links to Nazis was clearly shown. See:

      In Austria, people are more inclined to say the Party just has Nazi associations. Most everywhere else they would just call it Nazi. Enlgish speakers can read more about the party here:

      In the last elections for Chancellor, Norbert Hofer of the FPÖ won the first round, receiving 35.1%, and in the final run-off 46.2%, (an earlier run-off was invalidated,) thus losing only by a small margin.

      In the 2017 elections, the Party recieveed 21.3% of the vote even in Vienna.

      In the 2017, Austrian legislative election, the FPÖ obtained 26% of votes, increased its seats by eleven seats to 51 seats, achieving its best result since the 1999 election. Reference: Barkin, Noah (15 October 2017). “What Austria’s Election Says About Europe’s Political Landscape”. Reuters. Retrieved 24 January 2018.

      We see here in the comment of “Hans” one of the problems in Austria, a determined self-delusion regarding its political climate. This capacity for self-delusion is one of the reasons it took the Vienna Phil so long to accept is first woman member aside from harpists — in 2007.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Whatever our feelings about Domingo, let’s take up a collection to buy him a new shirt.That mattress ticking job has seen better days but is evidently the only one he has.

  • Saxon Broken says:

    I really don’t see that Dominique Meyer can say anything else. All he is saying is that Domingo has a contract which will be honoured since Domingo hasn’t done anything which breaches it (at least to their knowledge). The accusations of poor behaviour don’t involve Vienna.

    The real test is whether Domingo is offered any more work. I suspect he will be quietly dropped as soon as decently possible.