Wednesday 18 September 2019

Opera 'God' Domingo is accused of sexual harassment by nine women

Denial: Plácido Domingo said he believed all his interactions were ‘welcomed and consensual’. Photo: AFP
Denial: Plácido Domingo said he believed all his interactions were ‘welcomed and consensual’. Photo: AFP

Rozina Sabur

One of the world's greatest opera singers has been accused of sexual harassment, with one woman claiming he had a superstition that "he had to be with a woman before a show" to calm his nerves.

Plácido Domingo, who commands sell-out audiences worldwide and is director of the Los Angeles Opera company, has been accused by eight singers and a dancer of sexual harassment over three decades.

The women claim Domingo repeatedly harassed them. Seven of the accusers claimed their careers suffered when they rebuffed his advances because of his "God-like" stature within the opera world.

They accuse Domingo of acts that ranged from unwelcome touching to putting pressure on them to have sex. After decades of remaining silent they said they felt emboldened by the MeToo movement.

Domingo (78) has rejected the allegations, calling them "deeply troubling and, as presented, inaccurate".

The Spanish-born tenor has won nine Grammy awards and was a member of the "Three Tenors", with Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras.

A spokesman for the Los Angeles Opera said last night that the company intended to launch an investigation into the "concerning allegations".

The claims against him were outlined in an investigation by the Associated Press (AP), which said it had spoken to dozens of people in the industry who corroborated the accounts.

Only one of the nine women agreed to be named publicly. Patricia Wulf, a retired mezzo-soprano who sang with Domingo at the Washington Opera in 1998, said while he did not physically touch her, his behaviour was coercive.

"Every time I would walk off stage, he would be in the wings," she told the AP. "He would come right up to me, as close as could be, put his face right in my face, lower his voice and say, 'Patricia, do you have to go home tonight?'"

She added: "You have to understand that when a man that powerful - he is almost like God in my business - as soon as you walk away and get away, you think, 'Did I just ruin my career?'"

Another woman, who "finally gave in and slept with him. I ran out of excuses. It was like, 'OK, this is what I have to do'", said figures in the opera world knew it was happening.

Another singer said he was persistent in his pursuit of her and on one occasion put his hand down her skirt, leading her to "get out of there".

In a statement, Domingo said: "I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual".

The opera star said he recognised "that the rules and standards by which we are - and should be - measured against today are very different than they were in the past".

Irish Independent

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