Domingo: The End

With his withdrawal from Macbeth and the statement that he will never perform again at the Met, Placido Domingo has drawn the curtain on an epic career – 51 consecutive seasons at the Met, 706 performances as a singer, 169 as a conductor.

This record will not be broken by any artist presently alive.

Domingo may continue to appear in Europe, where he is universally accepted at opera houses, but the hub of his legendary career is broken. He remains nominally general director of LA Opera during a legal investigation, but he is unlikely to resume that position.

This is not the time and place to consider cause and effect. A longer reflection is required on the state of opera and society, in due course.

As someone who first heard Domingo sing in glorious youth at the Tel Aviv Opera, who has observed his ups and downs, marvelled at the summits and seen the warts and all, I feel nothing but sadness for everyone involved in this final act, especially for Placido himself.

Remember this.

And this.

share this

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on google
    • How will the US get along without an aging tenor playing at being a baritone? I think they’ll make it. And women in the future will be more likely not to be dismissed out of hand. So not so sad after all. Cheer up, mate!

  • Paradoxically, because of this, the sympathy factor will carry him a few more years longer than he would’ve had otherwise, the Europeans wanting to prove a point.

  • I echo NL’s sentiments. Whatever has occurred offstage, his onstage performances and recordings are a mighty legacy. I recall the wonderful Faggioni 1977 production of Carmen at the Edinburgh Festival with Berganza, Freni, Krause and Abbado and the LSO in the pit, a production the writer Bernard Levin considered the finest the opera had ever received. The recording remains in the catalogue but with Milnes and Cotrubas replacing Kraus and Freni.

    • “Whatever has occurred offstage”??? Really? Is there no low to which he could not stoop and still have your support! Ridiculous.

      • Well, he on-stage career and recording legacy are remarkable. Has he had the most significant recording career among all singers?

        One can recognise his talent and artistic achievements even while we deplore some of his behaviour.

  • Having worked on recordings with PD for many years in the studio in the eighties, nineties and early 2000 years , I can only say that he always behaved impeccably, was always collegial, was always totally prepared, was always totally professional and charming – and always delivered musical results at the very highest level. It is a tragedy that his career now probably ends this way. Very sad.

  • I ask you to remember how sad it was for all the women that he treated improperly. Having his super Talent is no excuse for his behavior.

    • And for those who dogged his every step for decades? There are legions of these ladies. Now Domingo widows.

      Kind of like having your cake and eating it too…

    • The women you refer to waited decades. They waited through the Anita Hill hearings onwards. The feminist movement didn’t begin yesterday. Media is big business and this sells papers and attracts eyeballs.

      It is a tragedy that there is no value to statute of limitations anymore.

      You are celebrating today but wait until the tables are turned on someone near and dear to you.

      Why have a legal system?

      Anarchy. Rule by mob. Rule by media. The media does not think the law applies to them. They are not only above the law but see themselves as the law.

      God bless Domingo’s talent and the joy he gave billions, yes, billions of people during his illustrious career.

      He is not a criminal. He has not been arrested. This is a travesty of Justice.

      • They waited because it’s very painful and difficult to talk about this. Same with victims of pederastia. They usually talk some 30 years after the abuse. Have you seen “Grace à Dieu”?

        • Please, get real.
          The cases where he crossed the line were – apparently – very few anecdotal ones over the decades. Colleagues he grabbed from behind at their chest, that kind of disgusting, overstepping behavior.
          But the vast majority of what we hear is about a Casanova flirting aggressively, placing a hand on a knee or a shoulder, stealing an uninvited kiss.
          Well, sorry, that‘s in retrospect standard latino culture machismo.
          Hardly traumatizing for most „victims“.
          Not a single case of a serious aggravated assault has been reported.
          Hystery?

      • “Anarchy! Rule by mob! Rule by media!” Oh, please put a sock in all your hysterical misogyny! And simply tell your nearest and dearest to behave themselves! Tragedy? Travesty? Not so much. Be careful whom you ask God to bless.

      • Nobody has even denied his great talent and the joy he brought with it. It does not exempt him from behaving with human decency, and observing workplace courtesies. THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CRIME.

        And your comments about the media are just silly. Has there been any media call for specific action to be taken against Domingo? All withdrawals of invitations, all investigations, have been instigated by the institutions in question.

      • I am seriously tired of these misogynists and abuse apologists that do not understand the impact of sexual abuse. A victim can wait all the time she wants and needs before reporting the abuse, if she does it at all. No one has a right to question when or how a victim reports the abuse. And the fact that they take whatever time they need says absolutely nothing about their credibility.

        The victims did not sell their story to the Associated Press. Unlike the tabloid media, AP does not pay for interviews. The victims did not do this to gain fame or advance their careers, especially considering that the identity of most of them has not been published by AP.

        As someone said in another post here, presumption of innocence is irrelevant here, There is no criminal case. There is no trial and no courtroom. Domingo was not accused of a crime. He was accused of being a pig. For years, women who worked with him were advised to never be alone with him. That didn’t happen out of the blue. Women were advised about that because of very real things that Domingo did.

        Whatever women he harassed or assaulted will never get any justice because that form of abuse seldom makes it to a trial. To me that is a bigger injustice than a pig being called out for what he is.

      • Lynch “law” was an American invention. And I’m sure they felt very self-righteous and virtuous as they strung up innocent people.

      • Yes, yes and hell yes. Almost every woman I know who has worked with him has a story about unwanted advances and techniques to use to fend him off.

  • Disclaimer: this comment does not take any view on the allegations against Domingo. It is simply considering the wider implications of recent testimony and events.

    This Met dénouement will serve as a warning to the next generation of superstars that, no matter how indispensable or invincible one may seem at present, it is not a permanent carte blanche to misbehave with impunity. Sooner or later, somebody’s notion of justice (which may well be a “trial by media” without judicial due process) will catch up. One has to act ethically and be seen to act ethically.

    In a profession dominated by freelancing, it is very easy for a person in a position of power to exert implicit pressure (intentionally or unintentionally) on the less powerful to consent to his/her wishes. For that reason, it is vital to respect professional boundaries, especially where the work is intensive and intimate (as is the case for opera).

    Another lesson that should be learned is that we all have a responsibility to stand up to inappropriate behaviour, or at least make it harder for inappropriate behaviour to happen.

    • Trials by media convict innocent people. The implications of this case and others like it are that men are going to have to follow the Mike Pence rule and never be alone with a woman.

      • Karl, I think you’ll find that if you don’t behave inappropriately with any woman, she is not going to complain in the way that dozens of Domingo’s victims did. My experience has been when that many people have come forward, there are some hard truths to be found.

    • “we all have a responsibility to stand up to inappropriate behaviour”. And we all have a responsibility to stand up to false and fictitious reports of inappropriate behaviour. Curious that you left this out of your recommendations for the future, since you purport to take no position on the allegations — all disputed — against Mr Domingo.

      Seems you do not even imagine the possibility of innocence. Very reminiscent of the Inquisition, that.

  • Everyone knows he is a great musician. I think it’s not appropriate to express sorrow FOR Placido. Are we sorry he got caught? Are we sorry he doesn’t get to grope people anymore? Are we sorry he doesn’t get to sing? I think you’re sorry for yourself that you don’t get to hear him sing. Save your empathy for the multiple people he violated.

  • 18 anonymous complaints and one named one whose only real issue was that he didn’t accept no for an answer quick enough.

    ‘Murica. What a place.

    • Again, unnamed is not anonymous. And judging from some of the comments here, I see the logic. It’s always been this way: women who confront any kind of male power have a vendetta, they are lying, they are stupid for not kicking him in the balls… Lord, I hope there is no reincarnation. I don’t want to come back to what the world is becoming.

      • Nothing to do with women. Any anonymous accusation, no matter who makes it and against whom, is disgusting. If you do not have the courage of your convictions then what good are you.

        What has happened here is truly frightening. You don’t need proof. You don’t need to even reveal yourself. Yet there goes a man’s reputation. He cannot even defend himself because he does not know his accusers.

        A perversion of justice.

      • Anonymous does mean that he has no opportunity to accurately respond to these very serious allegations. It takes two to tango, and there are nuances to both the women’s recollections and PD’s that have not been revealed. He deserves a chance to defend/explain himself.

    • The interviews with the victims who wished to remain anonymous were vetted and corroborated by the AP journalists. Peter Gelb’s feet-dragging is one indicator as to why most of the women wished to remain anonymous. And what do you consider accepting no for an answer as “quick enough”? Domingo propositioned Wulf 25 times. Any reasonable person would call that harrassment. Or maybe you just think Domingo is incredibly dense- not exactly a flattering alternative.

  • This is a Salem witch hunt! A fantastic singer in an industry which has extreme emotion as its life blood and its norm, indeed they audition for the power to stir extreme emotion in the audience, they teach it!!!

    Now they eviscerate a person who has grown old and is no longer powerful or useful – thus discarded.

    You all know perfectly well that women in this highly charged setting will have been throwing themselves at him.

    Who will be next I wonder, which hero of today in this overheated milieu will be thrown to the wolves when they are old? Just think about it!! Hypocrites in a whited sepulchre, all.

  • Speaking as someone who has been a fan of Domingo’s for decades, I feel no sadness at all for him. I reserve my sadness for the many women he has victimized, for their emotional turmoil and their blighted careers, and for an art form I love that has been tainted by actions such as his. Mr. Domingo deserves neither my sadness nor my sympathy.

    • The AGMA investigation should have been allowed to finish before action was taken. AGMA is interested in protecting their members, not Placido or the board/management of LA Opera, The Met, etc. Let the investigations be completed before judgement!

  • Serious question for you Mr Lebrecht. If you genuinely believe that great artistry mitigates, if not nullifies, other human transgressions, why don’t you take the same approach towards, say, Furtwängler?

  • Two contrasting world views here talking past each other:
    1. Europeans/non-Americans: a) no proof in legal sense; the 4 named women were not enough; this is a totally weak circumstantial “he said, she said” case b) the charges were of boorish behavior by wolf, almost expected of powerful men, and none that rise to criminal action such as rape c) many others in musical world did the same things. d) what harm done? Many women benefited from him, some threw themselves at him. As for those women who feel traumatized, c’mon, get real, your career progressed d) because of his stature, he should be given benefit of doubt, thus any censure is unjustified and ridiculous, worthy of contempt, yet of another American travesty in manners/ mores.

    2. Americans: a) the number of women saying the same things about events over the past 40 years constitute sufficient and credible proof. Afterall, they all can’t be lying or coordinated their stories. What’s their gain in coming out? b) additionally, his behavior is “well known within musical circles”, but no one did anything about it because the women didn’t press charges and the opera houses did not take any action to kill their golden hen. That’s enough proof beyond doubt. c) PD’s behavior constitutes sexual harassment and is a firable offense due to its longevity–a pattern, not once or twice. d) the opera houses are morally corrupt/hypocritical by showing loyalty to PD as well as concern for their box office over the female victims. So PD solved the dilemma for them nicely by resigning. It’s a light form of Japanese seppuku, as in Madame Butterfly. The knife was offered to him, and he took it.

    Hey, maybe there’s a new opera in this. I wouldn’t be surprised if an American composer is working on this theme as we speak.

  • I think this whole thing with Placido Domingo is just very sad. I have listened to him sing for years. I have absolutely adored him & his music. I used to be a singer & took lessons for a while, but honestly I think I learned more from him about the correct way to sing than I did from any lesson; he was basically my mentor. So, Mr. Do ingo, for all you’ve done for me, & the joy you have brought the world through your beautiful music, I say a heartfelt thank you. I hope the rest of you life is filled with peace & happiness.

  • FFS! He’s not dead. This article is so maudlin.

    Never put anyone on a pedestal. You’ll always be let down in the end. Domingo may have sung like a god but he is not one. And much like religious fanatics, people are falling all over themselves, lashing out, and viciously attacking others to defend and protect their chosen god. Domingo was a magnificent singer but he is also a human being with serious moral failings (does no one seem to care that he has basically been cheating on his wife for the last 50 years?).

    But you know, this is all fine. Go listen to your old recordings of him. Watch these old videos over and over again. Declare you will never set foot in the Met again. Gather in these comment sections and bemoan the “good old days” when women just shut up and put up with it. The fact is the Met and other opera houses will keep presenting opera. New exciting singers will keep getting discovered. The world will keep spinning.

  • It is indeed a sad ending of the career of a legendary artist, a career that will forever be shadowed by this event…

    What I do not get is the very poor management of these accusations by him and his management, publicity team and everyone around actually, I would have assumed he is backed by strong and intelligent people, not anymore:

    1 He did not deny the accusations and did not take any real actions against them (sue AP, sue the 20 ladies and so on, make a really strong statement), he just said the accusations are “inaccurate”.
    I would assume if somebody would be only just offended by so many lies, legal actions would have been taken, especially by somebody who has loads of money to have the best lawyers out there and who cares most about his reputation – so the stories of the ladies seem now all true even if they wouldn’t be, right?

    2 He did not post anything on his social medias or website since the allegations (more than one month now!), nothing at all, he disappeared, hiding – his only two press releases came out directly in the newspapers, not personally on his platforms. Why so?

    3 His Operalia winners, women and not only, posted supportive messages with the same two hashtags (what a bad PR movement), but he did not react to any of these… a “Thank you” would have been a statement alone, silence is only a different way of admitting your guilt and stay hiding…

    4 For Macbeth at the Met, he has been rehearsing since 3 weeks and there was not only one single photo or video footage of him or the entire production – not from him, not from the Met, not from his colleagues – were they all instructed to stay silent? Assuming the Met would want to “promote” their season as they do with Porgy and Bess, or Manon, for Macbeth they all went silent… Why??

    5 For the dress rehearsal at the final curtain call, Macbeth and his Lady came out together for the applause – was there such a fright that he will be terribly booo-ed? Would had happened anyway, even with Netrebko next to him…

    6 Even his final statement is contradictory with the Met’s statement: He is saying the Met accepted his departure, the Met is saying that Domingo agreed to make a step back for eternity… where is the truth?

    Cheers…

  • The vultures circle and the talentless Rejoice! Maestro Domingo is a Great Man. Those who mock him and revel in his dilemma from their phone and computer screens should go out and get a life. I know Many women who manipulate and use and punish men as an abuse of power. Weakness travels everywhere.

  • In Britain, a man who accused several prominent (dead) politicians of child abuse, triggering a two-year police inquiry, was found to be lying and has now been sent to jail.

    Two women came out publicly against Domingo but there has been no corroborating evidence and after so many years it will not be easy to ascertain.

    Certainly already over the past few years, Domingo’s main career has been in Europe where he has been singing or conducting much more frequently than in the US so this scandal may not have the major effect it would have done say twenty years ago.

    However, I do hope that, at some stage, clarity prevails. This is not the case at the moment.

  • I don’t think using the phrase “the state of opera” in this statement about Placido Domingo, was good for opera. It seems as if the whole of opera is connected to a negative. I think opera needs support. I think the art form should survive.

  • A total injustice against a great artist. It is the lynch mob mentality. When you have a great artist defamed over unproven acts and then have a president who brags in public that he grabs women. There is a serious moral problem in the good old USA

  • He was never a true tenor, with screechy high notes, always bordering on baritone. Finally, an opportunity for young, upcoming
    TRUE tenors !!

  • One of the most truly brilliant artists music has seen in recent memory now has the consequences from terribly poor behavior of the past limiting the continuance of the twilight of his career. The transcendence of his performances and the apparent truth of these cases can and would seem to exist simultaneously; great art doesn’t necessarily bring great morality, as much as we’d like it to.

    Like an argument can ring true regardless its source, greatest art can come from anywhere.

    Use careful thought, and get over the fear that this high priest’s fall from grace means anything more than that which is brought via reasonable analysis. Believe victims, even if only for the sake of empiricism.

  • >