Salzburg Festival closes with 15-minute Domingo ovation

Salzburg Festival closes with 15-minute Domingo ovation


norman lebrecht

September 01, 2019

High on the hills, a lonely goatherd might have wondered what the fuss was all about.

The Salzburg Festival rose to its feet last night to acclaim Placido Domingo, accused in the US of sexual misconduct.

He had reprised his performance as old-man Miller in Verdi’s Luisa Miller, with his Los Angeles Opera music director James Conlon conducting and Nino Machaidze in the title role.

All good pals, rallying round to support the aging lion. The ovation lasted 15 minutes. Listen to it.


What next?

Business as usual. Whatever the outcome of the LA law inquiry, Domingo can sing out his days in Europe untouched by the failed allegations.



  • Caravaggio says:

    “Domingo absolved by Standing O!” read the headlines = Christian evangelicals caught with their pants down publicly invoking repentance from their ever benevolent god and public = All is solved and troubles vanish into thin air. Just like that, like magic. Isn’t it wonderful?

    • M McAlpine says:

      What on earth have Christian evangelicals got to do with this?

    • sonoio says:

      I don t get it…are you serious or sarcastic????…just say what@@@ needs to be said : Placido is a svictim of dumb, dirty women who are looking for fame: they are disgusting b@@@es. I know him and his wonderful Family since more than 40 years, and can for sure say that all the last ‘happenings’ are fantasy of frustrated women

  • william osborne says:

    SD battling the opera world’s efforts to stipulate and enforce a workplace free of sexual harassment. And from a man who has two or three daughters (not sure of the exact number.)

    What are you thinking, Norman?

    • norman lebrecht says:

      You really want to know, William? I’m thinking that supporting a weak, trivial and legally non-viable case against a generally harmless man who has done much good can only weaken the genuine grievances against women everywhere who have suffered harrassment in the workplace. I have been in the forefront of exposing harrassers for 30 years. I will not follow mob opinion when the evidence is so feeble.

      • Ken says:

        Doesn’t apply to Levine, eh?

        • norman lebrecht says:

          It absolutely does. The evidence is serious and concrete.

          • william osborne says:

            The accusations against Domingo are not as bad as though against Levine, but they are nevertheless quite serious and concrete. To overlook them out of a sense of friendship would set back needed reforms in classical music.

          • Mandy Bridger says:

            What you call concrete, I call sand.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          I am sorry, but I agree with Norman: Levine’s behaviour is much more unpleasant and verged in the criminal. Levine certainly abused his position of authority.

          Domingo’s behaviour seems to have been unsavoury, and in breach of most work-place norms (the kind of thing that HR departments deal with) but he is unlikely to have done the victims much career harm.

      • william osborne says:

        Thanks for the explanation. Respectfully noted. My disagreement is that the testimony of 9 women about persistent harassment is not feeble evidence, and that his actions, especially the casting-couch manipulation, were by no means harmless. Let’s hope the LA investigation clarifies some of this.

      • M2N2K says:

        In my opinion your position as you described it here is reasonable, but I am strongly against the second “against” in your response to WO. In your defense, “everythere” shows that you were in a hurry when writing it.

      • MJA says:

        Very well said, Norman.

      • Martain Smith says:

        Agree with you totally, NL!

      • V.Lind says:

        You can take whatever position you want. But the ACCUSATIONS are not “trivial.” They are serious. Whether they are legally viable, etc. is indeed another story — as it so often is.

        I agree, and have so argued on other threads, that indeed Domingo has done a lot of good I imagine he is “generally” harmless. But I a not prepared to dismiss, out of hand, the documented accounts of nine women, supported by many others, and consistent with what has been reported, including by people here — many of who clai to be in a position to know — to be Domingo’s reputation in the opera world.

        There is a faint aura of “too big to take down” about some of this support.

    • George says:

      Yawn. Domingo has three sons, no daughters.

      American Opera Houses (as well as Hollywood) are at their stars feet and ignore everything until accusations are made public – no matter if they are right or wrong. Then they panic and put out their standard phrase of a “harrass free workplace” and tap themselves on the shoulder because of their high moral standards.
      “Say a word out of line and you find that the friends you had
      are gone forever, forever.”
      Billy Joel, Say Goodbye to Hollywood

      • william osborne says:

        The reference was to Norman’s children.

      • sonoio says:

        Pepe, Alvaro and Placido Jr….and now a number of grandchildren…He helped so many people and always without ‘publicity’…So sad to hear all the BS coming from people who should know better…Envy is a bad thing

    • EagleArts says:

      William, can you name institutions that have failed to respond to the #metoo movement with more robust anti harassment policies that employees, musicians, singers and chorus members are required to abide by? Los Angeles Opera did way before the current ALLEGATIONS were leveled against PD. Will taking people down with 30ish year old, non criminal accusations improve the situation?

      • william osborne says:

        To answer your questions, I think most American institutions are changing their standards regarding sexual harassment. This seems less common in Europe, especially in the Mediterranean countries.

        When my wife played in the Spoleto Festival in 1979, the organizers had to warn the American women that they couldn’t wear shorts on the street. We lived in Italy in 1979 and 80. The harassment Abbie experienced (who dresses very modestly and seldom even wears makeup) from complete strangers on street was bad enough to invoke fear. It was considered a male prerogative. Things are a lot better now, but for all practical purposes, there is virtually no MeToo movement in Italy.

        For the second question, I think the same standards should be applied to everyone regardless of their age. These are administrative, not criminal proceedings. (People are hooting about a lack of criminal proceedings to evade the issues.) It is reasonable for institutions to look back for about three decades because it helps the institutions evaluate their own failures, and to evaluate how persistent the harassment by some was.

        We all know that standards have changed and that people are being held accountable for things they did years ago when such behavior was tolerated. In some cases, that mitigates how actions are judged. It is notable, however, that in most cases involving older people the patterns of harassment continued over decades which becomes a relevant fact. In Domingo’s case, the allegations cover a long period which shines a negative light on his professionalism, and perhaps even worse, it suggests a pattern of institutional complicity. Sadly, almost no one is looking at that problem which is even more serious.

        One final thought. It was suggested above that the concerns about Domingo are some sort of mob rule. A look at the comments here on SD clearly show that if there is any mob reaction, it is against the women who spoke about being harassed. Truly astounding.

    • mandy bridger says:

      The exact number William is NONE.

  • Ellingtonia says:

    Mr. Lebrecht,

    I haven’t read any commentary yet regarding Placido Domingo’s “rescue” donations to various opera companies after the Alberto Vilar/Amerindo scandal and corporate collapse. There were maybe a dozen opera companies that had received pledges from Vilar that were never fulfilled, in the US and Europe. Wasn’t Vilar’s donation to Salzburg the largest in it’s history?

    If I remember correctly PD’s donation to LA Opera and Washington (DC) opera allowed those companies to sustain operations, and one of the scholarship programs in DC was renamed for Domingo after Vilar’s name was removed.

    Could this be why more opera companies in Europe aren’t offering more censure regarding the allegations against Domingo?

    • George says:

      European Opera Companies aren’t offering more censure regaring the allegations, because apparently nobody complained during the last 50 years at any of the European houses against Domingo.
      Also Europe believes more in self-responsibility. If you burn yourself with your coffee, you are not going to sue McDonald’s for not writing on the cup that the coffee was hot.

      • Ellingtonia says:

        I was speaking of the influence that large donations may have on an arts organization’s willingness to speak against a benefactor.

        After the Vilar/Amerindo scandal, The Met was rescued by a $25M donation from Suzanne Bass. Then, removing Vilar’s name from the box tier and other signage. Even so, The Met is waiting for results from the LA Opera investigation.

        Salzburg, removed Vilar’s name and photo from concert programs.

        I’m not sure if any of Vilar’s pledge or monetary debt to Salzburg was ever paid or guaranteed by another donor.

        That’s why I asked the question regarding “rescue” donations and reticence towards censure.

      • william osborne says:

        If we are to speak in such broadly general terms, Europe does not believe more in self-responsibility. Much of Europe believes men have the right to sexually harass women, and that women should have few avenues of response other than leaving their job. It’s good to see this finally beginning to change.

        • Cassandra says:

          No, Mr Osborne,

          Much of Europe does not believe men have the right to sexually harass women.
          I doubt this was the case even as far back as in the 70’s, from where you chose your examples earlier on in this thread.
          I too have travelled the Mediterranean area and albeit some men express their feelings more openly, than is common up here in Scandinavia where I’m based, Spaniards and Italians in general are no bigger idiots than you or me. They understand a firm “No” or even a “Thank you, but no thank you” if delivered eye to eye as between two adults.

          Maybe this could be viewed as European selfresponsibility, but I take offence at this notion that the obvious reaction from a woman when confronted, sexually or otherwise, is to leave her job…
          …run away…
          …hide in a corner…

        • Cassandra says:

          … no bigger idiots than you or I…

          Yes, I saw it, but too late…tsss!

        • sonoio says:

          lol….you are funny and PATHETIC !…You mean that WE Europeans are all ‘easy’ and the US ladies are holy????….THANKS FOR THE LAUGH …

      • Saxon Broken says:

        George: “self-responsibility and coffee”

        No, the reason why no-one sues in Europe is that one can not sue for “punitive damages”. Hence very little money can be won by going to court, meaning few people bother to go to court.

    • sonoio says:

      and the anonymous help to Carreras when he was sick?…and 1 YEAR all his income for Mexico earthquake…Just to name some….The man was an angel all his life, colleagues and people who PERSONALLY knows him are astonished and disgusted from the ‘lady’s’ accusations!….anyway if he wanted some extra marital ‘distractions’, he could have chosen much better than this bunch of women…BELIEVE ME…

  • V.Lind says:

    I know it is considered heresy around here, but is it possible even some of the ovation for Domingo was because he sang his role well?

    Or possibly just for the privilege, which will obviously not last much longer, of having seen him live onstage?

    • George says:

      I was there. He did sing very well! The whole cast got ovations. It was a very good performance from all of them.

    • sonoio says:

      such an idiotic analysis…

    • sonoio says:

      he is also a wonderful CONDUCTOR…, not like other famous singers who do not even know how to read music…Be sure he will be on stage for many, many years to come…despite people who envy him….

      • M2N2K says:

        You should have quit while you were “ahead”, sonoio. He is not a good conductor at all, unfortunately. And this is coming from someone who truly was an admirer of his singing when he was in his prime, i.e. in 1970s and 1980s. As a conductor, he is barely mediocre at best.

      • CurlyQ111 says:

        If you’ve ever played under him, you would realize that his conducting is not wonderful. Yes he’s an amazing tenor. I’ve played in the pit many times with him both onstage and as the conductor. I’ll just say that he was great up on stage. But I also have a close friend who received middle of the night phone calls from him on and off for two years, despite whether her husband or children would answer. So regardless, whether it was overt harassment or just power showing up as annoying and creepy, hopefully it will all be clear with a proper investigation.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    I remember PD’s beautiful comments about Carlos Kleiber in a 2010 documentary about that conductor. There wasn’t a hint of professional jealousy; only love, warmth and admiration.

    Poor Carlos would have been in the same boat as PD in this age of puritanism and witch-hunting. Oh, and perfect women.