Entertainment Celebrity Opera singer Placido Domingo denies harassment, sexual assault claims

Opera singer Placido Domingo denies harassment, sexual assault claims

Placido Domingo had stepped down as general director of the Los Angeles Opera after multiple allegations of sexual harassment. Photo: Getty
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Opera singer Placido Domingo has denied accusations from at least nine women of decades of sexual harassment and abuse.

Eight singers and a dancer have told America’s Associated Press that Domingo used job offers to try to pressure them into sexual relationships and, in some cases, punished them when they refused his advances.

Six other women told AP that Domingo’s suggestive overtures had made them uncomfortable.

The tenor has denied the allegations, calling them “deeply troubling and, as presented, inaccurate”. But the Los Angeles Opera, which Domingo directs, has said it will investigate the claims.

Following the revelations, the Philadelphia Orchestra reportedly rescinded an invitation for Domingo appear at its opening night concert in September. On Wednesday, San Francisco Opera said it would cancel a planned “special one performance-only event” in October.

Only one of the women would allow her name to be used: Patricia Wulf, a mezzo-soprano who sang with Domingo at the Washington Opera.

The others requested anonymity, saying they either still work in the business and feared reprisals or worried they might be publicly humiliated and even harassed.

One accuser said Domingo stuck his hand down her skirt and three others said he forced wet kisses on their lips – in a dressing room, a hotel room and at a lunch meeting.

“A business lunch is not strange,” one of the singers told AP.

“Somebody trying to hold your hand during a business lunch is strange or putting their hand on your knee is a little strange. He was always touching you in some way, and always kissing you.”

placido domingo harassment
Placido Domingo and wife Marta Ornelas in Madrid in July. Photo: Getty

Dozens more people in the opera world said they witnessed inappropriate sexually-tinged behaviour by Domingo and that he pursued younger women with impunity.

In a statement, Domingo said those who knew him knew he would never intentionally harm, offend or embarrass anyone.

“It is painful to hear that I may have upset anyone or made them feel uncomfortable – no matter how long ago and despite my best intentions,” he said.

“I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual.

“However, I recognise that the rules and standards by which we are – and should be – measured against today are very different than they were in the past. I am blessed and privileged to have had a more than 50-year career in opera and will hold myself to the highest standards.”

Seven of the nine accusers told the AP they feel their careers were adversely affected after they rejected Domingo’s advances. Some said that roles he promised never materialised.

Several noted that they had never been hired to work with him again.

The women also said they took extreme measures to avoid Domingo, including no longer using toilets near his office, asking other singers or backstage staff to stick with them while at work, and not answering their phones at home.

-with AAP