Nine women in the classic arts—eight singers and one dancer—have alleged instances of sexual harassment against opera singer Plácido Domingo.
The stories, reported in the Associated Press, span a variety of locations and times, dating back to the late 1980s and detailing accounts of the behavior in rehearsal rooms, concert halls, and outside the professional realm, including a run-in during one woman’s vacation in Italy.
In addition to the nine women (eight of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity) who made specific allegations of misconduct, six others voices discomfort over past incidents involving the Spanish tenor. Dozens of other singers, dancers, orchestra musicians, members of backstage staff, voice teachers and an administrator spoke to AP, having observed such inappropriate behavior, including incessant attempts to contact certain women at their homes and insisting upon private meetings.
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. And definitely don’t be alone with him.”
Of the nine accusers, seven stated that they felt that by rejecting Domingo and his behavior, they feared retribution or negative impacts to their careers. Patricia Wulf, a former opera singer and the only woman named in the allegations, recalled telling a colleague, “They’re not going to fire him—they’ll fire me.” Accusations range from inappropriate touching to sexual coercion.
Domingo, who later in his career would also conduct and serve as an artistic leader, released a statement in response, calling the allegations as “deeply troubling” and “as presented, inaccurate,” adding, “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 recognize that the rules and standards by which we—and should be—measured against today are very different than they were in the past… [I] will hold myself to the highest standards.”
One alleger, a soprano who worked with Domingo at the Metropolitan Opera in 2002, noted the artist’s clout and allure in the industry, saying, “He’s got a soul when he sings, and that soul is there in the midst of this abuse of power... I want him to have the opportunity to know exactly the kind of damage—emotional, psychological, professional, and otherwise—that he’s responsible for.”
In the wake of the reports, the Philadelphia Orchestra withdrew its invitation to Domingo to participate in the organization’s September 18 opening night concert. “We are committed to providing a safe, supportive, respectful, and appropriate environment for the orchestra and staff, for collaborating artists and composers, and for our audiences and communities,” a statement read.
Domingo, who serves as general director of LA Opera, is slated to appear in the West Coast company’s Roberto Devereux and in Macbeth and Madama Butterfly at the Metropolitan Opera in the 2019–2020 season.