Thu. Nov 21st, 2019

The #MeToo shakes Plácido Domingo

Placido Domingo debuted last year as a baton in Bayreuth. He was the only artist who had sung and directed the orchestra in this demanding square. Such a deed did not prevent him, in any case, the boos. "Bah, it's normal here, there is always someone who launches buuus," he said yesterday Katharina Wagner, director of the festival and great-granddaughter of the composer.

What do you think of the accusations of sexual harassment Which have been poured over the longest of active tenors?

Katharina Wagner does not have an answer yet, "I have not been able to read more than headlines," he says, still breathless after a day moved into that beautiful enclave of the Upper franconia German

The accusation

Eight singers and a dancer claim to have been victims of bullying by Domingo

Placido Domingo, perhaps the most respected figure in the world of opera, for his long and energetic career, with more than 4,000 performances behind him and 150 roles under his belt, has had to respond to an awkward call from the Associated Press agency that ensures having interviewed nine women – eight singers and a dancer – who claim have been victims of sexual harassment on their part in the past, three decades ago, sometimes in opera companies in which he held senior management positions.

Moreover, according to numerous testimonies collected by the same agency, the tenor – now baritone – would have worked inappropriately by pressing women to have sex by promising them jobs and sometimes punishing them professionally if they rejected their proposals.

So at 78, the powerful Placido Domingo took the bull by the horns and responded to the accusation: "These allegations of anonymous people about things that happened thirty years ago are deeply worrying and inaccurate," said the singer in a statement which the agency collects in its same article. "Even so," continues the tenor, "it is painful to hear that it could have bothered someone or make him feel uncomfortable, no matter how old he is doing it. I believed that all my interactions and relationships were always welcome and voluntary. People who know me or who have worked with me know that I am not the type of person who would intentionally hurt someone, would not offend or embarrass anyone. ”


The Los Angeles Opera directed by the tenor since 2003 opens an investigation

To add immediately, "I recognize that the rules and standards by which we measure ourselves today have changed." And he signs with confidence… “I have had the privilege of adding more than fifty years of career in opera and I plan to stay at the highest levels”.

The news fell yesterday like a bomb in the world of opera, which in general was expectant and acted with caution. The Liceu did not want to pronounce and in the Real, where he plans to perform next May, the artistic director was not reachable. The Palau de Les Arts de València informed that it will wait for the resolution of the accusations to take action. For its part, the Salzburg Festival came out to support the stellar musician, winner of multiple Grammy and respected figure in his profession, announcing that he maintained his performance on August 25, in Luisa Milller. "From the beginning I was impressed, along with his artistic ability, his respectful ways with everyone," said Helga Rabl-Stadler, president of the festival.

By cons, on the East coast of the United States, the Philadelphia Orchestra announced that it cancels its performance planned in September. And the West Coast, the Los Angeles Opera, an institution that Maestro Domingo has directed since 2003, announced that they were immediately opening an external investigation "to investigate the worrying accusations." And the Metropolitan Opera of New York has decided to wait for the results of this investigation to make a "final decision."

In the long journalistic work published by the Associated Press, only one of the eight singers agreed to be identified: Patricia Wulf, a mezzo-soprano who sang with Sunday at the Washington Opera. The rest claim that they are still active or fear being humiliated publicly. According to the facts, Domingo would have maintained a pattern of behavior, trying to contact them late at night, showing interest in their careers and urging them to meet them for lunch or dinner.

Already retired opera singer Patricia Wulf is the only one of Placido Domingo's complainants who has decided to publicly face her. For her, acting with the tenor was a dream come true

Already retired opera singer Patricia Wulf is the only one of Placido Domingo's complainants who has decided to publicly face her. For her, acting with the tenor was a dream come true
(Jacquelyn Martin / AP)

"A work meal is no strange thing," says one of the singers. “But someone trying to grab your hand during a work meal is rare, or putting your hand on your knee is a bit weird. I was always touching you in some way, and always kissing you, ”he adds. Another of the women says that Domingo put his hand under his skirt, and three others have claimed that he forced kisses on his mouth in a locker room, a hotel room and a work lunch.

Two more of them argue, according to the Associated Press report, that they briefly yielded to the musician's advances, feeling that they could not risk jeopardizing their careers by saying no to the most powerful man in their profession. "Who says no to God?" Says one in the agency's information. One of them states that he had sex with him on a couple of occasions, including at the Baltimore hotel in Los Angeles. And according to his story, when Domingo left to act, he left him a ten-dollar bill and said: "I don't want you to feel like a prostitute but I don't have to pay for parking either."

Several of the women who now accuse him acknowledge that they were repeatedly warned by their colleagues that they would never be alone with him, even in an elevator. And if they cited to eat, they didn't drink alcohol and make sure it was a public place.

In addition to these nine women, another three dozen singers, dancers, orchestra musicians, technical staff, singing teachers and administrators consulted by the AP, the agency says, claim to have witnessed inappropriate sexual behavior by Domingo, and that he was persecuting to younger women with impunity.

Last night there was little talk about the matter in the corridors of the Bayes Festspielphaus. The music critic Justo Romero referred to an article he had just written, in which, making a parallel with the opera characters, he saw a Don Giovanni in Placid, and also a Romeo, “but what has not been It will never be a Scarpia, the libcating police chief of Tosca.

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