Peter Gelb: Why I am standing by Domingo

Peter Gelb: Why I am standing by Domingo


norman lebrecht

September 24, 2019

The Met has confirmed that its general manager held a clear-the-air session on Saturday with chorus and orchestra members to address concerns about Placido Domingo‘s presence at the Met.

Gelb is reported to have downplayed AP allegations of sexual misconduct since all but two of the complainants were anonymous and the story had not been taken further by reputable media. He also insisted that there had been no reports of Domingo misconduct at the Met.

The Met would not conduct its own investigation, he added, but it would abide by the conclusions of the LA Opera inquiry.

Domingo will appear tomorrow at the Met opposite Anna Netrebko in Verdi’s Macbeth.

The Met has issued the following statement to NPR:

‘On Saturday Sept. 21, after the dress rehearsal of Macbeth, Peter Gelb held an open conversation with members of the Orchestra and Chorus as he has done with other groups within the Met over recent weeks. In the meeting Mr. Gelb reiterated how seriously the Met takes accusations of sexual harassment and abuse of power.

‘He explained that because there was currently no corroborated evidence against Mr. Domingo the Met believed that the fair and correct thing to do was to wait until the investigations by LA Opera and AGMA had taken place. He explained that if corroborated evidence is made public either through the investigations or other means, the Met would take prompt action.’



  • double-sharp says:

    Enough already,

    • AMiller says:

      I don’t understand (in other words it doesn’t make any sense) that the Met would take the findings of LA opera and then take action from there……! This is managerial incompetence and laziness. Am I missing something? If the Met takes harassment seriously why don’t they mount their own investigation? They may have no complaints. So what’s the relevance to LA opera? They’re very confused…..

      • Saxon Broken says:

        If there have been no complaints then what are you going to investigate?

        The key phrase is “there have been no reports of Domingo misconduct at the Met”. This means the Met can’t do anything.

    • Laurence says:

      Enough of what? Groping?

  • Emil says:


  • Player says:

    Gelb is also in the Powerful Men Club. They tend to rally around each other when one is in trouble. He’ll only take action against PD if he’s forced to.

  • Caravaggio says:

    Double standard. Gelb has fallen prey to pressure from behind the scenes from Domingo enablers. This is doing nothing but sending the wrong message. If Domingo had been female, accused of sexual harrassment and abuse of power, things would have turned out very differently. Remember that females in the business get fired for much less. And I mean for far far much less. It is not without irony that if some in management grew a pair on them things would turn out differently. Sad day for the Met. The management, although complicit in the Levine case, at least took prompt action then. Making an exception for Domingo invalidates their moral standing before the public and is a dereliction of duty. A public of conscience ought to consider letting the Met know how they feel about the situation by withholding support for and attendance from the Met. That would send a clear message.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      “Remember that females in the business get fired for much less. And I mean for far far much less.” Are you kidding me??? You are not in the business, obviously.

    • V.Lind says:

      Prompt action? Apparently “everyone” had known about Levine for years — decades even. That has to include some at the Met, including some in a position to do something about it. They acted only when the publicity had become a landslide and the courts were threatened. Only when the conversation became about THEM.

      • Chris Ponto says:

        Standards changed. Politics changed. When Levine was appointed MD of the Munich Philharmonic, he was asked to submit to some sort of law enforcement screening. Peter Davis of NY Magazine was outraged that a gay man was asked to do such a thing, when no other prominent nominee for conducting in Bavaria was treated the same way as a straight man. But the same people, perhaps some on the Board of the Met, fending off the evils of homophobia in Levine’s case, became so very alarmed to learn that there were credible accusations of very ugly personal deportment–that went way beyond being gay. Most people in the business knew all about his behavior but didn’t want to face being accused of homophobia by questioning Levine’s issues (and, admirably, equating homosexuality with criminality).

        It’s the same reasoning behind Hollywood’s spirited defense of Roman Polanski; for years they were “artists” ardently fighting the blue-nosed right wingers who were allegedly braying for his blood. (Remember the outrage the left launched over Monica Lewinsky? “It’s just sex?”)

        So while the allegations of misconduct don’t change, social tolerance and interpretation of it sure has.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          In the Domingo case the key phrase is “there had been no reports of Domingo misconduct at the Met”. You can’t just fire someone because of allegations at some other institutions as he has a contract. You have to show his behaviour at the Met is in some way not acceptable. Of course, you can quietly decide never to hire him again, and this is what will likely happen.

  • Cantantelirico says:

    Peter Gelb is a feckless hypocrite. He knows full well that if he takes any action against José, his cash cow will be on the next plane to Baku.

  • From an NPR report:

    “Everybody knows that Domingo is a womanizer and that he could be persistent,” one of the Met employees, who has worked at the opera for decades, told NPR. This person also said that women working at the Met have known to avoid one-on-one situations with the singer — the same kind of strategy that a number of the women interviewed by the AP said had been deployed at other opera houses at which Domingo was appearing.

    The same source also told NPR that there were a number of women at the Met who in the past have gone so far as to change their work schedules — denying themselves artistic and potentially career-furthering opportunities of working with the long-revered and influential singer — specifically to avoid having to interact with Domingo. “A lot of that stuff started happening in the 1980s,” this employee said. “As he got older, it was less of a big deal. But still, women knew.”

    • david hilton says:

      And why precisely are you extensively quoting for us NPR’s story which is simply a string of quotes from the AP’s 2 stories on Domingo, already discussed at great length on this blog? Adds nothing to today’s events, and makes the mistake of treating as fact the AP’s erroneous count of “20 accusations”, when there are no more than 10?

  • Cassandra says:

    Since there appear to be this Met Anonymous Hotline for complaints, managed by an outside firm.
    Why not make use of it then, if you’ve got something substantial?

  • Lynne says:

    He didn’t need to make a statement. He could have answered with just a symbol: $

  • Jason S. says:

    I am not sure that Peter Gelb is the person at the Met who would have the final say about the Domingo situation.
    I would guess that the Met’s board would dictate any action. Ann Ziff, chairman of the Met board must obviously be on Domingo’s side, as she is also a big donor to the L.A. Opera as well as the Met. The Met’s board obviously does not want to deal with the Domingo situation in the proper way. They are displaying terrible judgement.
    They fired Levine for harassing young men, but it seems that it is OK for Domingo to harass young women.
    A terrible double standard if you ask me.

    • Karl says:

      Levine was so disabled that he couldn’t work anymore. So why not just use bogus harassment allegations as an excuse to ditch him? It looks like that’s what happened. They knew what was going on for decades and did nothing until Levine got sick.

    • M2N2K says:

      Not a double standard at all: harassment of adults if true is certainly wrong, but sexual abuse of many minors is much more serious and truly criminal.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Levine v. Domingo

      Actually, the Met conducted an investigation when they had “some credible allegations” that involved Levine’ activities at the Met. It was only following the investigation that they fired Levine.

      At the moment they are claiming “there have been no reports of Domingo misconduct at the Met”. They need to investigate “a credible allegation” before they can act. That, basically, is the law.

      [Of course, they seem to have waited a long time, in the case of Levine, and were prodded into action by the press. But it doesn’t change the basic story.]

  • Christoph says:

    And yet, the opening performances appear to be selling well, according to the seating charts online. Many of us here may recoil at the Met’s irresponsibility but the moneyed crowd that attends opera don’t appear to be returning their tickets and staying home. Until that happens – or some very organized backlash, a la the ridiculous protests against the John Adams opera a few years ago – not much will change.

    • Marel says:

      Christoph, the first two performances with Domingo and Netrebko have been sold out for some time. However, Domingo stepped down from these and all further Met performances earlier today. He offered a statement saying last Saturday’s dress rehearsal would be his last at the Met.
      The seats are beginning to open up as many people were attending because of him, including myself.

      • katerina waldersee says:

        I have tickets for Madama Butterfly on November 6 but I have asked the et to refund me the money as this was no ordinary cancellation or change of cast. I would have flown over from Germany especially. I am still waiting for a response

  • Karl says:

    If Gelb held Domingo to the same standard he did for John Copley Domingo would be gone now.

    “Attendees also made reference to stage director John Copley, who was fired by the Met in January 2018 after allegedly making a sexual remark to a Met chorus singer. ”

    Or should Gelb be apologizing to John Copley?

    • Saxon Broken says:

      No, there is a huge difference. John Copley was investigated and found to have acted inappropriately WHILE AT THE MET. At the moment, Gleb states “there have been no reports of Domingo misconduct at the Met”. Gleb has to wait until someone at the Met makes a complaint against Domingo.

  • Innocent until proven guilty! Bravo to the Met.

    • sycorax says:

      In your opinion this obviously goes only for men because with declaring Domingo “innocent” you more or less insinuate that 20 women and their witnesses are at least guilty of lying.

      • Paul Brownsey says:

        He didn’t “declare” him innocent. He was alluding to the commonly-accepted idea that people should be treated as innocent until proved guilty.

        You think he should be treated as guilty even though he has not been proved guilty?

        • V.Lind says:

          You think these dozens of women should all be considered liars because a lot of men are feeling uncomfortable when they look in mirrors?

          • Paul Brownsey says:

            Ah, the “If you don’t accept what I say you’re accusing me of being a liar” move.

            To refuse to condemn a man who has been accused is not to accuse the accuser of lying. It is just to suspend judgement pending a determining hearing.

            Your move is, alas, one that complainants have been too ready to exploit: “If you don’t believe what I say, then you are calling me a liar and that just redoubles the awful abuse I suffered.”

        • Lorelei says:

          Paul Brownsey, you clearly missed sycorax’s point. If one must presume that Domingo is innocent, then one must also presume that the people accusing Domingo are also innocent of lying. Or do they have less rights because they are women?

      • Karl says:

        Sexual harassment can be in the eye of the beholder so not all false allegations are lies. They can also be misunderstandings or distorted memories.

      • david hilton says:

        There have not been 20 women who have made accusations against Mr. Domingo. You libel him needlessly and irresponsibly, in the belief (mistaken) that falsely inflating the numbers somehow increases the credibility of the women who actually have lodged significant complaints against Domingo. Read the AP stories and you will see what the real facts are here. There are no more than 10 complainants; far less than the “20 accusers” that are often mentioned.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Innocent until proven guilty is a concept in criminal law. Domingo has been accused of misconduct as an employee and is being investigated by the LA Opera. The case will be decided by “balance of probabilities” or “preponderance of evidence”. Since the claims are “credible” he has been suspended while he is investigated.

      He hasn’t been suspended (or fired) by the Met because there has been no accusation of misconduct during the time Domingo has been at the Met.

  • George says:

    Those who‘ve always liked Domingo stand by him now.
    Those who‘ve always disliked him will continue to do so. Neither side will change. I am impressed how Domingo handles the pressure.

    • V.Lind says:

      He has handled it by “voluntarily” withdrawing with a statutory denial and an “Impressive” bravura.

      *Gelb sent an email to the Met staff on Tuesday saying: “We are grateful to him for recognizing that he needed to step down.”* (Guardian report).

      What a two-faced piece he is, in light of this very story reported here.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Sounds like Gelb basically told Domingo that while he couldn’t be fired, his presence was an embarrassment, and asked Domingo to “do the decent thing” and go quietly.

  • Kyle says:

    “Gelb is reported to have downplayed AP allegations of sexual misconduct since all but two of the complainants were anonymous and the story had not been taken further by reputable media.”

    If that’s an accurate representation of what Gelb said, the board may be forced to deal with him.

    Gelb: “Yes, yes, there are lots of complaints, but only two of you gave your names, therefore there is very little to worry about. Two is nothing. If there were three, or four, or maybe ten, or maybe a female star we couldn’t live without even more than we can’t live without Domingo, that would be something. Two is nothing.”

  • Florestan83 says:

    Not anymore Bye bye crook!

  • Florestan83 says:

    This total hypocrisy on behalf of the Met! Didn’t they just fire John Copley for a whole lot less than what Domingo has done?!

  • Kay Langford says:

    People who have a history of abhorrent and criminal behavior don’t have any problems handling themselves in public. They don’t think they’ve done anything wrong.

    But I’m sorry to see that the Met is in such financial difficulty that they are comfortable not just with doing the wrong thing, but also the hypocritical thing publicly.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    So now that Domingo has withdrawn and says he will never perform at the Met again, what next?

  • laurie says:

    Domingo just quit the Met and said he is not coming back.

  • justsaying says:

    Now that the story has flipped, a True-or-False for investigation: Was this all choreographed in advance, with a pro-Domingo position tendered to placate his supporters on the board, on the understanding that the star himself would then withdraw “voluntarily”?

  • George says:

    Breaking: Domingo is out and will not return to the Met.

  • Scott T. says:

    Domingo has stepped down from all future performances at the Met, effective immediately.

  • Mirna Clavell says:

    Trending now is sexual harassment complains. Why did this women wait so long? This matter could be investigated until they fall on their faces. It’s all hypocritical femenist talk. Respect is not a right, you have to be respectable to have it.

  • Marel says:

    Norman, I posted a comment in response to Christoph and you deleted it. Sooo, what gives? I stated Domingo had withdrawn from Macbeth at the Met and said he would never appear there again. He further stated he would consider Saturday’s dress rehearsal his last on that stage. Did I steal your thunder?
    The news has been out for some time, yet you have not mentioned it. Strange, as you have been all over this topic since inception.

  • Marshall says:

    They just announced on Live From the Met after the performance of Manon that Domingo has withdrawn from all future performances at the Metropolitan. He will be replaced tomorrow night by Zelko Lucic in Macbeth.

  • Cassandra says:

    So, political pressure tipped the scales.

    New York state senator Brad Hoylman leaned heavily on Met/Peter Gelb on Tuesday afternoon. Shortly thereafter it was all over.

    Sad, but dignified. Mr Domingo’s exit from the Met is as sudden as hos début 51yrs ago.

    Hopefully we may now welcome him back, home, to Europe.

  • Nick2 says:

    Surely strange that after Gelb’s unequivocal backing for continuing to have him as part of the season – at least until the LA Opera’s enquiry is complete, that PD should at the last minute voluntarily withdraw not only from Macbeth performances but from any future Met performance!

  • Canary man says:

    Apologies for a comment about art rather than politics. One of the ugliest things I ever experienced in an opera house was a recent Traviata with Domingo at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The transcendently wonderful Ermonela Jaho was trying to make music while this old man barked over her. It was horrible so I support anything which might drive this man off the stage and stop managements booking him.

  • Save the MET says:

    Let’s look between the lines. It is factual, Gelb has not been honest before the public about the Metropolitan Opera’s finances. At one time he even raided their pension fund to pay bills. The only reason to have kept Mr. Domingo’s contract active was to sell tickets for his anemic season and poor pre-season ticket sales. As the Metropolitan Opera is not for profit, it comes under the purview of the Attorney General of New York State. Perhaps it is time for an audit by the AG. Gelb’s feckless management has been allowed to run rough shod over this house. He screwed up the Levine situation, he’s now screwed up Domingo. He should not have waited until last Saturday to test the temperature in the House for a return by Placido Domingo. That was a poor management decision to wait that long. He should have cancelled the current contract and then waited for the various investigations into the tenor to go forward. He could have then made a better decision once the investigations were complete. Instead he learned four days before Domingo’s scheduled first performance of Macbeth that the chorus and orchestra, as well as some members of the cast were completely against him. He embarrassed Domingo in a way that did not have to happen and he embarrassed himself by yesterday’s “mutual” cancellation of the contract. Once again, the Domingo stories are not new, they have been known for decades. As I have said before, his wife is known as “the all seeing owl” backstage for over a decade. She’s been there to keep him out of trouble like Levine’s brother hung around backstage to keep him out of trouble. Gelb knew…….