Top opera agent is arrested on child sex-trafficking charge

Top opera agent is arrested on child sex-trafficking charge


norman lebrecht

August 11, 2020

The former Columbia Artists vice president Damon J. Bristo was arrested in St Louis on July 23 on a charge of ‘sex trafficking child lt 18 2nd’, according to the police mugshot (below). This translates as child sex trafficking in the second degree.

Bristo, 39, was until yesterday Director of Artistic Administration at Opera Theatre of St. Louis. His name has been erased from the website.

OTSL issued this statement: We were shocked by the allegations of criminal activity, which have no link to his employment or role with us. Upon learning of the arrest, the employee was immediately placed on unpaid leave and later resigned. We have a strict code of ethics and strong values that we expect our employees to uphold inside and outside of the workplace.

Damon Bristo was a Vice President and Artist Manager in the Opera/Vocal management group at Columbia Artists, stepping down on September 13, 2019 to go to Opera St. Louis.

During his career, he represented Isabel Leonard, Deborah Voigt, Ryan McKinny, Tamara Wilson, James Morris and Amanda Majeski among other well-known singers.

We have no further details at present.

Presumptions of innocence apply.

UPDATE: In other St Louis news, the Symphony has cancelled its concerts to the end of the year.


  • Anonymous says:

    Damon Bristo is NOT a current Vice President at Cami. He resigned over a year ago.

    • Advocate who can read says:

      Is English your second language babe??

      “The FORMER Columbia Artists vice president Damon J. Bristo was arrested in St Louis on July 23 on a charge of ‘sex trafficking child lt 18 2nd’, according to the police mugshot (below). This translates as child sex trafficking in the second degree.”

      Besides, there’s at least one girl or boy who needs support at this time. You people need to acknowledge the vulnerable and help them instead of complaining!!

  • Cubs Fan says:

    What does “lt 18 2nd” mean?

  • caranome says:

    How could he be both an agent and artistic admin of potential client at the same time? Isn’t that prima facie conflict of interest?

  • Grittenhouse says:

    Corruption at CAMI? Nothing new, so old.

    • Jack Smith says:

      Where is the corruption? How is soliciting an underage prostitute corruption?

      • Grittenhouse says:

        Well, let’s see. CAMI booked concerts for a fictional Russian orchestra, which was then populated with free-lancers; they cheated all sorts of ways to serve their artists, or keep outsiders out of Community Concerts. I had an agent try to con me and my dying teacher out of some out-of-print music, no doubt for a client, but pretending it was for the composer’s wife, which it was not, I later confirmed. That’s just the stuff that I know directly or second-hand about.

  • Figueroa says:

    If he isn’t accused of sex trafficking he does have a conflict of interest working concurrently for a theatre and an artistic agency.

  • Has-been says:

    I don’t think Mr Bristo is employed by CAMI. I am pretty sure he left in January.

  • Marilyn Saunders says:

    As this is the “new normal” for Leftist Elites being exposed for what they really are below their priggish ranting, the question becomes…why is this behavior STILL normalized with this group?!?!?!

    CAMI executives and artists sure didn’t learn anything from Jimmy Levine’s monumental collapse! At least they finally yanked his profile off of their website like their newly “former” Vice President.

    You people could care less about the young and vulnerable (no matter their sex) and believe your educational background and industry status actually make you “better” than everyone else you look down on or refuse to work with.


    So James and Damon are your heroes?? Is that still what you’re pushing? What’s everyone supposed to believe? More mugshots, litigation and justification??

    No, you people supposedly “controlling” other folks careers can’t even manage your own lives! Time for you all to reevaluate what you’ve done to people and who you hire particularly at the top!

    The victims need justice! Sad again for the newest ones..

    Oh, AGMA needs to be involved in this case too! Maybe pulling their NY Business License will get them WOKE.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Marilyn, calm down…if you’re not careful your pandemic lockdown may become a lockdown of a very different sort.

      Think before you speak.

      • Tired of Tiredofitall says:

        It may only be child sex trafficking and abuse to you, however others don’t approve of this type of behavior and realize the victim(s) need support.

        You need to think before you speak.

        • William Safford says:

          That is not the issue.

          The attempted equation, by members of the right wing mafia like her, of sexual abuse with “normalization” by the “left,” is both false and offensive.

          She is trolling us. Or she’s a wacko-bird, to quote the late Senator John McCain.

        • Bruce says:

          I think you should think before you speak. No body is justifying this behavior, but connecting this incident to normalization of the left (whatever that means) is pathological paranoia.

          • Bruce says:

            Just for clarification: ^ this is not the same insufferably smug, virtue-signalling Bruce you are all familiar with. (That would be me.) Different Bruce.

    • Bruce says:

      Why do people like you make everything about “leftists” “you people” etc. Have you not gotten out of your 5 year old state of seeing everything as hero vs villain, black and white? Not everything is a conspiracy against you, use your analytical skills to grasp better the complex nuances of reality. You are an adult with such capacity, use it. Start by taking history lessons as well and also look up “Dunning Kruger effect” if you have the impulse to think you know everything that others don’t.

      • Petros Linardos says:

        Apparently if we do not worshipTrump and Putin, we are communist conspirators.

      • Edgar Bronfmann says:

        …“people like you”???

        What pray tell group are you referring to?

        Further, the Dunning Kruger effect encapsulates the Left perfectly, particularly with the indoctrinated group-think collective of supporters, media and multiple “experts” that proved sane Americans right in 2016. Quite embarrassing for the “college educated” set with their heightened sense of entitlement??

        • Sue Sonata Form says:

          You’ve nailed it. And they project their own perfidy onto others, having seen the genie they’ve allowed to escape from the bottle and now unable to control its terrifying power.

      • Grittenhouse says:

        This nation’s entire culture is currently under attack by the Left, and it has only just begun. This is just the build-up to a totalitarian future policed by the PC squads, SJWs hired right out of colleges.

    • True North says:

      I think this comment says more about you than it does the story…

    • And Opinionated Woman says:

      Damon Bristo has not been employed by CAMI for over a year. He resigned his position there to take the job in St. Louis. But like the creator of this blog, you are just not going to let pesky little things like facts keep you from trashing an agency and/or your perceived political enemies.

    • Dr. Demon Sperm says:

      “As this is the “new normal” for Leftist Elites being exposed for what they really are below their priggish ranting, the question becomes…why is this behavior STILL normalized with this group?!?!?!”

      They can’t be all Trump’s pals. Then again, who knows? 😉

    • PFmus says:

      More crocodile tears from a right-winger with her Pussy Grabber President?

    • William Safford says:


    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      So many problems of the tremulous Bourgeois ruling class (Left) are external. One of their jobs within the matrix of society now is that of the teacher; the preacher; the person who knows better than you and has the authority to put you in your place with a kindly smile. They have the certification to prove their superiority and it’s often called a university degree. It’s not a healthy place to hang out.

      And they’ve self-identified as ‘elites’. Quite clearly there is a problem with word meanings for most of them.

      • Bruce says:

        Have you stopped and wondered that maybe those who do pursue higher education/training, who develop expertise in certain areas do have legitimate authority? And have you questioned on what basis you have the qualifications to challenge their knowledge? I’m not saying you can’t, we all should challenge each other, but with modesty and most importantly, proper arguments based on research and facts. If you cannot engage with their arguments point by point, if you cannot critique their premise and conclusions, but rather only generalize them as “elites” who somehow do not deserve their place of authority regardless of the actual arguments they put forth, then that only proves your lack of qualification and your ignorance, unfortunately. I first suggest you to stop seeing things as strictly right/left, black/white. You are giving yourself permission to stop thinking by doing that.

      • True North says:

        This is a very strange comment. What is the “bourgeois ruling class”? Are these the same people as “Leftist Elites”? And who are they, exactly? Are you feeling hurt that you haven’t been invited to join the “in-crowd”? I really do want to know – am hoping someone will clarify for me.

  • alex says:

    Bravo for mentioning that he is innocent until proved guilty.

  • operaman says:

    Bristo left his job at CAMI in September 2019 to take the job in St Louis.

  • allegations are serious says:

    Listen, Dona, unlike refusing to engage with students about the orientalist operettas by Lehar via Zoom, accusations like this are genuinely criminal. All of us in the industry are mortified by the allegations. We would love it if Damon Bristo isn’t found guilty, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t act like it doesn’t exist. It does. Nobody is taking pleasure in it; however, if true, it does suggest why there’s been a changing of the guard, as you well know.

  • Silence says:

    You, DeeDee are in no position to comment on anything.

  • Stefan says:

    Interesting story about Ms. Vaughn! Looks like they did cut her loose at MSM…

    • Musicman says:

      I again point out that Francesca Zambello allowed the “n” word to be said onstage and no one hounded her out of her job. Clearly, there is a different set of rules for Ms. Vaughn, who is straight, than for homosexuals. There must be equal accountability if opera is going to survive.

  • Why are opera fans subintellectual morons? says:

    you really think she would post here with her real name? Come on guys.

    • Bruce says:

      Some people do, especially if they are convinced they are right.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        But shouldn’t they be checking with you first to see if they’re ‘right’? You’ve got the monopoly on virtue because you’re such a ‘good’ person – under the new rules about such things which your cohort established (in the circumstance that they’ve lost interest in christianity to instruct them).

        Most of us could only dream about having the virtues of the Left; they’re such ‘good’ people. Sadly, the rest of us can only look on and learn – and earn as much money as we can in the process.

        Be very careful of being judged by the very standards you have set for others. We’re watching.

  • Enquiring Mind says:

    Didn’t Opera St. Louis just get over a scandal a year ago?

  • Anne says:


    Damon Bristo, the theatre’s former director of artistic administration, was arrested July 22 on suspicion of second-degree child sex trafficking, the St. Louis County Police Department confirmed Wednesday to 5 On Your Side – AND:
    Bristo was released without formal charges and an investigation is ongoing, the department said.

    • Grittenhouse says:

      SUSPICION. Just like Alfred Hitchcock’s plots. And so many are ready to crucify him. It’s never the whole story.

  • Melissa Muzzle-Brimstone says:

    Disgusting. Good riddance!

  • Grittenhouse says:

    What does that charge even mean? Paying an 18-year-old for sex? Driving across state lines?