More vultures come out for Domingo

Martin Kettle in the Guardian:

 Where do this week’s developments leave the Royal Opera House in London? Domingo is just as much of a favourite performer at Covent Garden as he is at the Met. He has been appearing there since 1971 and he is scheduled to return next summer in Verdi’s Don Carlo. But the question of his continued involvement is now an increasingly embarrassing one for the Covent Garden management. Like all the houses where Domingo still performs, the Royal Opera House love the glamour and the artistry, not to mention the ticket-price income, that Domingo brings. But Covent Garden is living in a dream world if it imagines these performances can or should still go ahead….

There is certainly room for a variety of views about the #MeToo movement and its effects. And Domingo’s status as one of the greatest tenors of all time is secure. But sexual harassment has long been a feature of the opera world as well as other workplaces, and there is no room for the view, which is still all too common, that opera houses can simply ignore it.

Charles Downey in Washington Classical Review:

Plácido Domingo was a fixture at Washington Opera for almost two decades. The first small step that WNO and the Kennedy Center should take to acknowledge these revelations may seem cosmetic but is critical: the company should immediately change the name of its young artists program. Founded by Domingo in 2002, as still noted on the Kennedy Center’s website today, it continues to bear his name as the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists Program. It would be a relatively easy but significant step to excise the first half of that name.

… In addition to removing his name, Washington National Opera can and should do more. The company would do well to take a page from L.A. Opera’s book and appoint an outside investigator to document any accusations against Domingo throughout the company’s history, even before the merger with the Kennedy Center. There could well be more stories waiting to be told from the decade and a half Domingo reigned over Washington Opera.

By coming to terms with Domingo’s checkered past in a public and candid manner, Washington National Opera will show that the company values the bravery of the women who came forward more than the increasingly empty denials of its former star artistic leader.

Associated Press:
None of Domingo’s upcoming performances in Europe have been canceled; he has a busy fall lineup of operas and concerts in Switzerland, Russia, Austria, Germany, Spain, Italy and Poland.

Justin Davidson in the aptly named Vulture:
Society has changed, and the Met is limping to keep up. When the news about Levine’s transgressions broke, the company called in lawyers to run an investigation, bury the results, and settle the case. The Domingo protest makes it clear that’s not enough to restore harmony within and trust without. In Levine’s case, the Met’s leaders claimed they had no idea that the man most widely credited for the company’s artistic luster, who spent virtually all his waking hours in the building during a 40-year tenure, had a darker side. Met employees kept Levine’s schedule, reserved his tables, carried his bags, and arranged his travel, yet the official position is that none of them saw or reported a thing. Those same powers of unobservation applied to Domingo, too. Hours before the divorce, Gelb was still claiming that the multiple accusations were “not corroborated.”

There’s more at stake here than Gelb’s leadership or Domingo’s reputation. The Met is a global beacon of an art form that is hugely expensive to produce and pricey to attend. More than most forms of culture, it depends on the public’s good will. For the sake of its artists and its art, the Met needs to change its culture, not just cover its ass.

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  • Sorry, I misread it. I thought it was all said by Martin Kettle.

    But still, can‘t we just wait for the results of the investigation?!?

  • [[ Where do this week’s developments leave the Royal Opera House in London? ]]

    Still in Floral Street, WC2, where it was last seen, Martin, Is this dreck supposed to be journalism? Kath Vyner has turned the Graun into the kind of groupthink comic-book that would not have been out of place in Zhdanov’s USSR. Factless, fingerpointing with the journalistic standards of a bedbug.

    Remember their “Panama Papers” headlines? Empty accusations with the lurid promise of ‘full details to be published next week”. Of course – no details were ever published – next week, or any other week. Nor did Kath Vyner or Polly Parrot ever have the slightest intention of publishing them. “Sex, smear, and skedaddle” – the Dirty Digger’s modus operandi (run alongside some vegan recipes, for the sake of hokum ‘credibility’).

      • Kettle is more of a jackal than a vulture. At least vultures can fly. Jackals merely hang around until they smell free carrion. He’s the Graun’s third-rank critic – after Moon and Higgs – contiibutes nothing, but cheers along with the editor”s ingrained biases. Like Simon Heffer, Kettle is a seasoned NW5 freeloader who adores the glamour of the Garden, and somehow believes himself a part of it. There’s not a right-on cause to which MK won’t raise a glass of bubby in the Crush Bar,

  • There is nothing of the vulture that you quote from The Guardian. The last line you cite is the nub of the issue. But the article is right. The ROH suspended Grigolo in a heartbeat on one rumour. To ignore Domingo, and his own actions at the Met, would be insidious.

    Bit more of it from the Downey article. I am not persuaded that the name of the young artists’ programme needs to be changed. As well as his deserved reputation as an artist, he also has earned respect for the developmental programmes he has established. If Washington Opera or the K Centre want to investigate his activities in their orbit, fair enough. But education and development programme names that smacks of the Rhodes Statue approach. Revisionist history is something that was properly abhorred in the Soviet Union and its satellites.

    • To V. Lind, I am trying to figure out what your overwhelming contintued interest in the Domingo case might be.

      You have said that you are a journalist, and clearly you reside in the UK, given your references to local matters. Journalism has won here, your wishes have been conceded and Placido is out. Why are you still constantly opining on this matter?

      You are not in the US, you are not from the world of opera, you are not a musician, the situation doesn’t impact you professionally. If your interest is women victimized in the Me Too movement, your wishes have prevailed here. What more is there to say? Why are you flogging a dead horse and continuing to insert yourself into this discussion?

      Given your multiple degrees of separation from anyone or anything involved in the Domingo case, you appear to be nothing more than an armchair voyeur, and a verbose one at that. You are chewing on this matter like a dog with a bone. Be gracious. Let it go.

      • I, on the other hand, appreciate V. Lind’s patience and reliable support in answering the Domingo Army. And I agree that his name should not be removed from a program he founded.

      • Ignoring the fact that by your criteria I should not be replying to anyone “Anon,”:

        Clearly you have not read all my comments. I do not live in the UK, though I was born and raised there. I have often mentioned where I live.

        I was indeed a journalist, and an opera one, and have studied at opera school and in Master classes. These were not my principal areas of study — I added them to increase my knowledge as I was writing about opera.

        I started comment on this to stand up for the AP and the ludicrous reaction to their reports from Domingo apologists who can still, after all the argument, come out with this nonsense: “Journalism has won here, your wishes have been conceded and Placido is out.”

        Journalism has won nothing — it was never in this to win, or to see someone lose, and had no animus against an individual. My wishes were never involved here — nor were anyone else’s that I am aware of. Especially not those of the AP reporter, who had no axe to grind — and no axe WAS ground. Placido’s being out is, on his longest statement to date, at his own request.

        If you read the post you responded to, it is explicitly a response to the blog post and the term “vultures,” which is Dispatches-Box-worthy. It otherwise expresses appropriate sympathy for Domingo. But this is no “dead horse” when heavyweights like Borodina, Netrebko and Carreras weigh in — Carreras virtually accusing the accusers of lying, and Borodina supporting him against the “ungrateful.” (Netrebko was warm, but more circumspect).

        My other interventions have been in opposition to what I consider faulty argument here. This is a debating forum. I am not alone in participating often. If you don’t care for my views, or participation, you need not read them. NL obligingly puts contributors’ names at the top of posts. But I am debating the issues as they are offered by other participants. Not, as you have just done, offering an ad hominem on someone you do not know.

        Workplace harassment is a very important issue and I was concerned about it long before the MeToo movement, which is one of those things, like exposing priests and residential schools for abuse that have been going on far too long and shoved under the carpet, whose time has finally come.

        I am as wary as the next person about false allegations, as a near relative is a professor who cannot risk a closed door meeting with a female student, having seen a colleague’s life destroyed by a fantasist. But I am equally wary of the approach that says “He couldn’t have,” just because of who “He” is. We have seen this very week the different ways in which a major star and a lesser one have been treated by the same House.

        As I have often, and right above, maintained, I am a lifetime Domingo fan and I am deeply sorry to see what has occurred. But if Mr. Lebrecht were to gather together all the posts offered on this sad story, he would find an awful lot that seem to argue that the potential loss to music (here! in forums that had spent years screaming for PD to get off the stage! Oh, Boris, don’t worry, your voters are still out there) trumps the right of women in opera to go about their business unharassed, as does the revenue and cachet PD brings to the stages he visits.

        He would find the frequent notion that women throw themselves at Domingo so what’s he to do, and, mercifully less often, the nonsense that the artistic temperament is such a volatile affair that a little dalliance seems a necessary corollary to preparing to sing Otello or Macbeth — whether wanted or not. And other such illogic.

        I have elected to answer some of these notions as I met them.

        That Placido Domingo is the centre of all these stories is incidental, except where his star power is the rationale offered in his defence. For me, it has all been more in sorrow than in anger. I have wished he WOULD deny it — but he has not. He has “disputed” interpretations of actions he has tacitly admitted, and he has given up a cherished place in his career.

        It’s still, though probably less than in the past, the way of the world that men will harass women who do not respond to their overtures. It does not make them criminals (necessarily), and it need not create irreversible conflict. But as long as people argue the concept that the rights of a man because he is a major talent and has power and celebrity are more important than the rights of women who operate in more obscurity, than argument must be maintained, investigative reporting must continue, and consequences must follow. One of which, alas for you, may be my interventions here!

        • OK, I will be honest, you often lose me with very specific British references. Please understand that phrases like “Dispatches Box Worthy” is probably lost on anyone who is not British. I have no idea what that means. Whether or not you still reside there is beside the point.

          There have been quite a few times in your posts trying to understand your meaning when you make these ultra British references and lose me. People, places, events – I’m not sure if you assume we are all British here or if you think your references are universally understood, but neither is true. I find this very off-putting and it makes it difficult at times to understand your point or to sympathize with what you say.

          Regarding harassment in the workplace, I’ve replied to you in another thread. I’m still not sure what your post above here is about. In fact I am very confused. It’s a lot of words and I am trying to draw some kind of conclusion, some decisive theme. It sounds like maybe you just enjoy debating, which I suppose is fine, too.

          • V. Lind lives in Canada. If you’re having difficulty understanding V. Lind’s posts, try reading slowly and sounding out the words you don’t know. Some meanings can be inferred from the context. When you come across unknown references, Google is a great source. You may even learn something, as opposed to just reinforcing what you already think. Like you, I’m from the U. S., but unlike you, I very much enjoy the international perspective we get here.

          • RBH, thank you for your thoughtful advice. I have done that several times already with her posts, thank you. But to have to google her points of reference every single time she posts can detract, IMHO, from the impact of what she is trying to say. That is my personal experience.

            I also enjoy the international perspective, but I don’t seem to have to do that with any other posters here. Often, the references she makes, while colorful, are quite tangential. In the post that follows here, for example, how relevant to Placido Domingo’s situation is knowledge that the Prime Minister of Canada speaks from something called a “Dispatch Box”?

            Even in her explanation below, she doesn’t bother to tell us which House of Commons, which Prime Minister and which country. And somehow we must infer that this person speaks from something called a “Dispatch Box”, which is somehow relevant to the Placido Domingo case. It’s an assumption that everyone here is watching Canadian news broadcasts and is familiar with these terms, which we are not. Yes, we could google the terms every single time she does this, but it gets tedious.

            It borders on trivia. There are a no. of other examples like this. They are references which are not particularly relevant to the immediate issue. They detract from the bigger picture of what she is trying to say, which is often quite good. This is a fairly unique situation here. I read Slipped Disc a lot, and I can’t recall any other time I’ve encountered this problem.

            This is just my personal opinion, which I have a right to express. I would very much like to follow and understand what she says, but I have found myself put off a number of times by these specific local, unexplained references that she makes. Quite honestly, it has often made me question the jist of what she is actually trying to say. That is just my impression, my reaction, which I believe I have a right to express here.

          • Anyone who saw a newscast this past week will have seen the House of Commons, where the issue of language, particularly that of the Prime Minister, who speaks from the Dispatch Box has been under heavy criticism. It is widely considered to have been intemperate, to put it charitably.

      • And I am trying to figure out who put you in charge of policing this comments section and questioning who people are, their music qualifications and why they are interested in this or any other story.

        • It’s because this person and I have had challenged each other several times thruout the Domingo debate and I feel that since her “side” prevailed, she might be gracious enough to let it go now. That’s all.

          • As I have eternally tried to say, I do not have a “side,” I have not “prevailed, and I respond to new blogs or posts I dispute as and when. As, reading through recent ones, do you, as is your right.

            If I have ground any axe here, it has been in the interests of understanding how journalism works and trying to reiterate, in teh face of continuing attacks upon professionals doing their jobs, that they are not a vigilante committee. They REPORT. if there are any agendas here, and I am no sure there are, they are from the journalists’ sources.

            Yes, there are issues here, and people have their views. That’s what this discussion forum is for.

    • OK, there’s another one: “Rhodes statue approach”. No idea what that means. So I stopped reading your post & googled it.

      While it is very impressive that you can toss off bits of South African history like this, how many readers here actually know, without researching it, what that means? Are you trying to show off your knowledge, or put us to shame? In either case it doesn’t have much to do with the topic at hand.

      Being the journalist that you are, you must know that readers are more likely to accept and be sympathetic with what you are saying if you’re not continually throwing in obscure references that they don’t understand.

      Like “Dispatch Box” this just alienates average people like me who don’t watch Canadian news or read about South African history. These are just 2 examples. There are lots more thruout your posts. They seem to be very personal references which highlight your own life and your own knowledge but don’t clarify the topic at hand particularly well for general readers like myself. They just confuse us.

      I have no aspirations to be an intellectual versed in obscure international references, I would just like to be able to follow and understand your posts without having to google terms you use. It doesn’t make you any more superior to use them. It’s just quaint and mildly annoying. It sounds provincial, like maybe you don’t get out much.

      I don’t think I’ve ever encountered this problem before on Slipped Disc. Maybe I haven’t been interested in reading what people who do this say & have skipped their posts. But I truly do want to understand your point of view as I feel it’s important, so it frustrates me, frankly.

    • V.Lind writes: “The ROH suspended Grigolo in a heartbeat on one rumour. To ignore Domingo, and his own actions at the Met, would be insidious.”

      No, I am afraid you are wrong. Grigolo was suspended over a specific incident during his employment by the ROH. The ROH investigated, and decided that the evidence warranted the termination of his contract.

      With Domingo, there is no specific incident that took place at the ROH which can be investigated; this means his contract can not be unilaterally terminated. I am afraid that “an anonymous newspaper accusation” doesn’t cut-the-mustard (even though most of us believe these accusations are probably true).

  • I believe doing the things suggested by Mr. Downey would be totally ungracious, vindictive, and serves no purpose. Hopefully the WNO has a little class.

  • The lineup today means nothing.
    As we have seen, a person can shown the door the night before his scheduled performance. Is there a precedent for this?

  • While it’s awful what’s transpired with Domingo in the US, it may open doors for many lesser orchs. and opera houses in Europe to have the opportunity to hear him.

    I, for one, will be passing on the suggestion to my orch’s management to invite Mr. Domingo to solo with us or possibly to guest conduct. His newly opened schedule dates will give him more availability.

    We’d know exactly what we’re getting: a great artist who probably misbehaves around women. Nothing more, nothing less.

      • Interestingly, in most orchestras (esp. lesser ones where affirmative action hasn’t prevailed yet) women are still a definite minority. Think how few women are in Vienna – many orchs are not much better.

        On opera stages, women are well represented, by necessity. But in orchestras, not so much. So inherently, Domingo’s presence would be less problematic. It might be more of a problem with, say Levine. We played with a big UK pedophile conductor who also likes men shortly before he was convicted, though, and there was no problem whatsover there. In fact, I remember it as a very positive experience.

        As far as your “under 70 barb”, retirement age in most orchs in 65. You’d be hard pressed to find any 70 year old female orchestra players anywhere on God’s green earth. Unfortunate, but true.

  • The Convent Garden has to remove Domingo. How can they allow him to appear there after 20 accusations, two of which allowed their names to be used, when they canned Grigolo after only one accusation? That would be clear preference given to a star. Neither Placido or Grigolo should be allowed to appear there unless their names are cleared.

      • The ROH decided, after investigating and going through a disciplinary hearing, that the accusation against Grigolo was true and warranted the immediate termination of his contract. There were many witnesses.

        The ROH have not received a complaint against Domingo that can be investigated. The accusations we have heard about have been made to the newspapers with the names withheld. The ROH can not arbitrarily remove him from Covent Garden.

  • One would think that Placido had been convicted of rape and murder the way people are reacting. Quite frankly I think it’s a gigantic overreach at this point. Let the investigations continue and see where they lead, especially the AGMA one. Give PD the opportunity to respond to the particular situations where the alleged misdeeds took place. He should know the names of his accusers. Let’s see if management, music directors and board members where made aware of the alleged behavior and did nothing. This is a vigilante squad run amok.

      • All of them, from 20+ years ago? He has a career that transcended time zones, cultures and continents. I’m certain he has bigger accomplishments to dwell on then dalliances he thought were mutual or affections not returned.

        • Grabbing someone “by the p–sy” is rather more than “dalliances he thought were mutual or affections not returned”. Even twenty years ago.

    • I don’t agree. Men are just awful whatever their profession. Since this rumour broke loose I look at them with different eyes, I never suspected them of misbehavior in the past but whenever I’m in public space, in busses or trains, I keep a firm eye on them and keep my pepper spray ready. Although I got into trouble sometimes by too quick a reaction, whenever I had the time to reflect at the police station, it grows on me more and more that we have to be much more vigilant than we have been in the past and whether or not they sing, we have to keep them in their place in the name of justice!

      Sally

  • Better question: who cast Domingo as Posa? There’s no integrity in that. It’s an insult to all baritones (and ROH ticket-buyers). Posa needs the firmest possible sound and rich, rolling legato, as Domingo himself knows. A young man’s job. Boccanegra and Germont one can understand, just, but Macbeth and Posa definitely not. The company has no business doing favors of this kind.

  • Removing names is very Soviet. America is heading into an abyss. The man is not a convicted felon. Cooler heads must prevail but the Kennedy Center will likely cave.

  • People like Domingo and Levine do not always anticipate that cultures, especially with regard to gender relations and sexuality, change. In addition, with everyone kissing their a***ses they believe that they are above the rules or that the rules somehow do not apply to them.

    In yesteryear all intersex interaction in the workplace and frequently elsewhere had to be in a public place or chaperoned in some way. Even then permission had to be given, for ex, “May I dance with you?”

    Nowadays the rules need to be made VERY clear For ex. no touching of any type without verbally asking “May I?”.
    No touching of any type in a relationship which is hierarchical or where one party has more power than the other etc. even with the verbal permission of the other party, should be permitted.

    Incidentally, the same applies to touching even in a relationship or potential relationship. We MUST take the ambiguity out of sexual/romantic interaction/relationships and while this may dampen some of the romantic attraction since a “chase” now will be considered harassment, it will prevent tremendous pain.

    I say this out of professional experience. Before I became a nurse I was a caseworker in child support enforcement, chasing after absent parents, the overwhelming majority of whom were fathers, to support their children.

    In the thousands of cases that I have dealt with over the years I had never ceased to be amazed as to how little the custodial parent knew about the absent parent, even after living with him for years. In many cases the custodial parent seemed to have been afraid to truly get to know the history and feelings of the other parent for fear of the truth, i.e. that the partner was really uncommitted and did not want to have any responsibility. If she knew the truth then she could not maintain her fantasy that the other party loved her or was parent material and would have to break off with him, which was too frightening a prospect.

    Since many people, especially women (I’m sorry if this sounds sexist) emotionally bind to partners through sex it is totally unacceptable to think or assume “Well, let’s just see how this thing goes or if feelings develop” without explicitly explaining to the other partner that that indeed is the agenda, at least once the couple hits the sack. Never assume that anything like that is just understood.

    Women and men need to understand that playing “hard to get” and other games “to keep him/her guessing” as girls were advised forty and fifty years ago, have got to go.

    Both parties should be asking questions such as, “As of this point how exactly do you feel about me? by the sixth or seventh date, or maybe even the fourth or fifth, date. “Are you in this because you see a potential long term relationship or are you just lonely and I am available?” “Am I just the bird in the hand that is better than the two in the bush?”

    If a partner is too uncomfortable to admit that he/she is in it primarily for the sex or temporary companionship and/or is afraid or unable to define his/her feelings that’s a real red flag. If the party “gets frighten and runs away then he/she is not ready for or does not want emotional intimacy anyway.

    Honest communication in relationships means real openess about feelings, not just not lying. Not only will people feel more comfortable but in general there will be fewer painful breakups, fewer abortions, less depression, less anxiety, less self destructive behaviors for ex, substance abuse. The thrill of the ambiguous “chase” just ain’t worth it

    • An entirily sane comment from the front lines, which should be carefully read by a majority of SD readers who feel surprised, irritated, or merely amused by the PD affair. The so-called ‘sexual liberation’ from the sixties onwards which was a youthful protest against an often distorting and unhealthy collection of morals in the field of relationships, has created its own often distorting and unhealthy collection. Given the importance of relationships for both the individual and society, they have to be conducted with the greatest care and respect; neither violent suppression nor careless indulgence are workable. One of Freud’s really true insights was that civilization rests upon suppressing of violent instincts: it is the price to be paid for a free and just society and we see how difficult that has always been. We have to work with nature, tame it in harmony, and not violently subject and exploit it neither let it grow rank.

  • I commented yesterday on the site of Washington Classical Review critizising the article but the comment was never published. Nice from of censorship over there on the moral highgrounds.

  • Just one point out of many that could be said. As long as Placido has been performing other people had to know. Others were doing the same and it was the culture of that time. If someone wants to just take his name off a banner they really need to confess their own failing in allowing a climate that allowed that behavior to exist. That doesn’t excuse what he did but it does eliminate the appearance of deflection of these opera companies from their own past responsibilities.

  • Enough with the biased headlines on this topic. Probes may lead to indictments may lead to convictions. But even outside legal processes, entertainers are only as valuable as the eyeballs they command. Buy all the tix, and the Met etc may reconsider.

  • These women were molested 30 years ago. Why did not they complain at the time? What were they afraid of?What was he doing 40 years ago, 20 and 10 years ago? Where are the accusers? Domingo had good looks and great charm. He was always a womanizer. It was no secret. Women used throw themselves at him. Did these ladies liked to flirt too? I am a woman but I have often observed some other women who did not behave in the most appropriate manner in places where I worked.

    • Flirt? He grabbed a costars breast so hard it hurt and she yelped in pain and alerted the other person in the dressing room. Flirt? Really?

  • J.Kaufmann/JDFlórez/S.Yontscheva⭐♫”Libiamo ne’lieti calici”/La Traviata
    Hope that these great opera guys will survive in current circumstances of search for sexual harassment in opera world

  • Usual Anglo-Saxon stereotypes on view here.
    In places like Russia, it’s considered perfectly to have physical contact.
    It’s actually reassuring.

    In all this big sack of rumours we have no idea what actually was going on, why, how, who, what, when?
    If there’s no smoking gun, or the guy wanted to bed someone (like that nutcase practically running the US film industry), or even Woody(?) then all we have is mega-hearsay.

    Hearsay & the US mass media swamp keeps the masses fed.
    Nothing has changed since the 18th century with Hogarth, least of all human nature!

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