AGMA says: No deal with Domingo. Just a massive fine

AGMA says: No deal with Domingo. Just a massive fine


norman lebrecht

February 27, 2020

The US union of opera performers has taken issue with the New York Times wording of its proposed settlement with Placido Domingo after its lawyers found him guilty of inappropriate behaviour.

AGMA says there was no talk of a settlement by which the slate would be wiped clean. Rather, Domingo was told he would be fined half a million bucks to pay for AGMA’s legal expenses and its future anti-harrassment measures.

Here’s the statement:

This afternoon, The New York Times published a piece titled “Disclosure of Plácido Domingo Allegations Scuttles $500,000 Deal.” AGMA seeks to clarify the misperceptions of this article and in recent reports by NPR: the anticipated fine, to our knowledge the largest to be imposed on a union member, was NOT in exchange for AGMA’s silence or to make any “secret deal.”

The potential fine was part of a series of proposed measures to resolve potential internal union discipline which included: a lengthy suspension; mandatory training/coaching; and a sincere public apology.  In addition to offsetting AGMA’s legal fees incurred in the investigation, the fine was earmarked to support the Union’s ongoing efforts and new initiatives to prevent sexual harassment in our industries.  Additionally, a portion of the fine was to go to nonprofit entities designated by the Union to support targets of sexual harassment and programs to eliminate harassment in our industries. The Union had complete control over how the monies from the fine were to be spent.

Regardless of the fine imposed, AGMA was never planning to publicly release the specific details of its internal investigation, as the Union had assured witnesses of confidentiality. Any suggestion that the Union was being paid to withhold information is patently false.   

AGMA thanks the individuals who took part in the months’ long investigation for their bravery in coming forward and wants to assure them that we hear them. AGMA has accepted the findings of the internal investigation, which confirmed allegations against Mr. Domingo. AGMA is in the process of determining appropriate action that sends two clear messages: 1) this behavior won’t be tolerated by AGMA and 2) we are leading a national effort to eliminate sexual harassment within our industries. Should any AGMA members become a target of harassment or discrimination, they should notify AGMA immediately by confidentially reporting claims to


  • A.L. says:


    • Calvin says:

      It seems the hush-money approach might well have worked to keep the LA Opera’s independent investigation bottled up.

  • Dave says:

    AGMA is garbage, and I say this as an American singer working for nearly four decades in classical music. This revelation is not surprising at all. The Times is correct in its characterization and there’s no doubt AGMA was making a deal to hide Domingo’s serious crimes. The result should be a call to fire the board, dissolve AGMA completely, and start over. The “union” has always sucked, and this should be the end of them, permanently.

    • Karl says:

      I quit the union I was in years ago when I managed a cafe. They took the side of the lying payroll cheats who accused me of threatening them after I started reporting their payroll fraud. There’s a reason why right to work laws are spreading around the US. Can people just quit AGMA and still sing?

      • Calvin says:

        “Regardless of the fine imposed, AGMA was never planning to publicly release the specific details of its internal investigation, as the Union had assured witnesses of confidentiality.” Note that this is some clever double-talk. The NY Times never said that the deal was to preclude all the specific details of the investigation, including the confidential input from victims and witnesses. Plainly that information was never to become public under any circumstances. That still begs the question as to whether and how the investigation’s conclusions were to be presented publicly and with how much (anonymized) supporting information would be released. It is absurd to think that there not negotiations around that, and the Times report suggest that Domingo’s representatives confirmed this was indeed the case.

  • FrauGeigerin says:

    Pure US-American political correctness BS. A total nonsense.

  • sam says:

    Placido could’ve used a fraction of that $500,000 to settle with his accusers before they came out. Now it’s too little too late.

    Penny wise and pound foolish.

  • Cassandra says:

    Half a million!
    For what?

    Were it me, I’d keep the money and buy myself e nice little theatre in some cosy corner of Europe and let the audience come to me.

    He met the demand for a sincere public apology and look where that landed him.

    • Lynne says:

      Yeah, and then took back his “sincere” apology.

      • George says:

        Not true. He was clarifying it, he did not take it back.
        Papers draft headlines according to clicks not necessarily according to facts.

        • Emil says:

          The initial apology said he took “full responsibility” for causing hurt. Now he says he’s not responsible for anything. So that is a clarification, to the extent that “I am not late, I arrive after the appointed time” is a clarification.

          • Cassandra says:

            … Or for those who use misconstruing as a pas-time.

          • George says:

            The way I read it is that he apologizes for his sexual advances (which he has never denied) , but that he wants to point out again they were not of an aggressive nature and that he did not harm careers if women put him off.
            Whether that is true or not, we don’t know.

          • M2N2K says:

            No, Emil, you are twisting his words. In his latest statement, Placido Domingo explicitly and clearly repeated his apology to those he has “hurt or made feel uncomfortable in any manner”. He definitely did not say that he was “not responsible for anything”. He would not be repeatedly apologizing for something if he was denying his responsibility for it.

          • Emil says:

            Yeah. Without the admission of responsibility, that’s a “sorry if you were offended” apology, not an actual apology. An apology requires an acknowledgement of responsibility.

          • M2N2K says:

            His apology repeated in this latest statement *is* an admission of responsibility because it includes words “I have made to feel uncomfortable or hurt in any manner”. There is no “if” there.

      • Cassandra says:

        No Lynne,
        C l a r i f i e d it.

        For those who managed to misconstrue it into some kind of “confession” last time around.

  • mary says:

    Nothing screams guilt like wanting to pay $500,000.

    Not even his non-apology apology.

    I guess now it’s a non-payment payment.

    What a freaking farce.

    Sad, sad, sad, sad, sad.

    • M2N2K says:

      Considering such payment does not necessarily mean “wanting to pay”, and there is no need to scream. He admitted.guilt in all of his public statements made last month and the latest one of them merely articulated the parameters and limitations of those admissions. In other words, It explained that he does accept his responsibility for certain offenses, but not to all of those he is being accused of.

  • Nijinsky says:

    This really is starting to go faster than sordid and the smell arises such a reaction that one might, for want of a new form of Olympics (and the Gods needing entertainment enough to have lost consciousness suspending their own rules) that, thanks to none (SIC) other than Placido, one wouldn’t find it completely unreasonable to start a serial comedic farcical reality show with opera singers, given their lack of emotional projectle allowances, and one could call it La Finta Disperato!

  • SMH says:

    Where are all the singers who had dalliances with Placido, enjoyed themselves, had nice careers and feel good about it? We need to hear from you.