Opera star Placido Domingo accused of sexual impropriety

Carla Harmon
August 14, 2019

Plácido Domingo, one of the largest and most powerful figures in opera, was accused of sexually harassing women for decades in an article published Tuesday by The Associated Press.

The news agency reported that the Madrid-born tenor and opera director allegedly harassed young women who were starting their careers, offering jobs in exchange for sexual favors and professionally punishing those who refused his advances.

Eight singers, including retired mezzo-soprano Patricia Wulf, and one dancer told the AP that Domingo pressured them into sexual relationships to advance their careers.

One woman 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.

"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", continued Domingo. I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual. "I am blessed and privileged to have had a more than 50-year career in opera and will hold myself to the highest standards".

Many who spoke out treated the allegations as an "open secret", with one woman noting unwritten rules that others had recalled: "Avoid interaction with him at all costs".

The accusers who spoke to the AP - all but one of whom requested anonymity - said they had feared speaking out previously would kill their careers due to his huge standing.

In addition, the AP independently verified that the women worked where they said they did and that Domingo overlapped with them at those locations.

The stories were supported by more than three dozen other singers, dancers, orchestra musicians, members of backstage staff, voice teachers and an administrator who say they witnessed inappropriate behaviour by Domingo, who has been married to his second wife since 1962.

And then she said that that sort of creates a culture where people feel like this behavior is acceptable or there will be no consequences, and then others, maybe people who aren't superstar status, then have the opportunity or take advantage of that to do bad things themselves.

Domingo served as artistic director for the Washington Opera from 1996-2003 and as the company's general director from 2003 to 2011, during which time its name was changed to Washington National Opera.

"The Kennedy Center did not receive any documented complaints about Mr. Domingo's behavior prior to WNO's affiliation with the Kennedy Center, and we have not received any since then", the statement said, adding that the company has "zero tolerance policies with regard to harassment, discrimination or abuse of any kind, and we take allegations of this nature very seriously". "They're not going to fire him - they'll fire me", she remembered telling him.

Yes, yes. So, she was not the target of him herself, but she said that it was, you know, well-known.

"He would come up to me very close to my face and very clearly say, 'Patricia, do you have to go home tonight, '" Wulf said.

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