Plácido Domingo accused of sexual harassment

Allegations ‘deeply troubling’ – I believed my relationships were consensual, says opera star

The opera singer Plácido Domingo has been accused by several women of sexual harassment.

Eight singers and a dancer said they were sexually harassed by the Spanish tenor in incidents that spanned three decades from the late 1980s, Associated Press reported.

The alleged harassment took place at venues including opera companies where the musician held top positions.

Six other women allege that Domingo, who has been married to his second wife, the soprano Marta Ornelas, since 1962, made them feel uncomfortable with his sexual propositions.

Dozens of other people in the opera business claimed that they witnessed the multiple Grammy award winner being sexually inappropriate towards younger women. His alleged actions were “an open secret” in the opera world, Associated Press (AP) reported.

Domingo, 78, did not respond to detailed questions from the news agency, but said in a statement: “The allegations from these unnamed individuals dating back as many as 30 years are deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate.

“Still, 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. I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual. People who know me or who have worked with me know that I am not someone who would intentionally harm, offend, or embarrass anyone.”

One woman accused Domingo of putting his hand down her skirt and three others said he forced kisses on their lips in a dressing room, 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.”

Seven of the accusers claimed that their careers were affected after they rejected his advances, with some saying promised roles never materialised.

Only one woman, the mezzo-soprano Patricia Wulf, consented to her name being used in the AP investigation. Others said they wanted to remain anonymous because they still worked in the business and feared reprisals.

The women told similar stories about the singer allegedly calling them late at night and asking them to meet urgently under the guise of offering them career advice.

The women said they felt emboldened to come forward by the #MeToo movement that emerged after sexual harassment allegations against the American film director Harvey Weinstein in 2017.

Domingo added in his statement: “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.”

Domingo performs regularly in London, most recently in January in the Royal Opera House’s production of La Traviata. He is due to return to Covent Garden in June 2020 in a revival of Verdi’s Don Carlo. In a statement on Tuesday the Royal Opera House said: “The ROH has not been made aware of any accusations pertaining to Placido Domingo’s time as a visiting artist or conductor. However, we have a zero tolerance policy towards harassment of any kind and recently refreshed our code of conduct to ensure all staff and visiting artists abide by the rules at all times.”


Angela Giuffrida in Rome and Imogen Tilden

The GuardianTramp

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