Opera houses and orchestras cancel appearances by Placido Domingo following accusations

Eight singers and a dancer have accused the singer of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 25, 2015 Spanish singer Placido Domingo performs on stage during a concert at the Starlite in Marbella. Opera great Placido Domingo denied multiple allegations of sexual harassment on August 13, 2019, insisting that he believed all interactions and relationships throughout his long career "were always welcomed and consensual." / AFP / Jorge Guerrero
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A number of opera houses and orchestras have responded to a report in which eight singers and a dancer accused opera star Placido Domingo of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour.

The Philadelphia Orchestra has withdrawn an invitation to the Spanish singer to perform in September, while LA Opera, where Domingo has been general director since 2003, has launched an outside investigation.

In a statement, the Philadelphia Orchestra said: “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.”

The San Francisco Opera followed suit and announced late on Tuesday night that it was cancelling a Domingo concert in October, which was scheduled as a celebration of the singer’s 50-year association with the company.

“San Francisco Opera is committed to its strong anti-sexual harassment policy and requires all company members to adhere to the highest standards of professional conduct,” a statement read. “San Francisco Opera places a great priority on creating a safe and secure environment where everyone can focus on their work and art, and in which colleagues are treated with respect, dignity and collegiality.”

Meanwhile, the Washington National Opera, where a number of the accusations against Domingo are reported to have taken place, said: “We take allegations of this nature very seriously.”

The Washington National Opera merged with the Kennedy Centre in 2011, the year Domingo left as a senior administrator, following financial difficulties.

The statement continued: “The specific accusations reported today predate WNO’s affiliation with the Kennedy Center in 2011 – and Mr Domingo has not been engaged by WNO since the fall of 2011. Our goal always is to ensure that all of our artists and employees can work and thrive in an environment of safety, trust, support, creativity, and mutual respect.”

However, Domingo, who opened Dubai Opera in 2016, will still perform at the Salzburg Festival later this month, after festival director Helga Rabl-Stadler defended the singer.

“I have known Placido Domingo for more than 25 years,” said Rabl-Stadler. “In addition to his artistic competence, I was impressed from the very beginning by his appreciative treatment of all festival employees. He knows every name, from the concierge to the secretary; he never fails to thank anyone performing even the smallest service for him. Had the accusations against him been voiced inside the Festspielhaus in Salzburg, I am sure I would have heard of it.

“Furthermore, as a jurist by training, my assumption is ‘in dubio pro reo’. I would find it factually wrong and morally irresponsible to make irreversible judgments at this point, and to base decisions on such judgments.”

Domingo was forced to defend himself this week after several women accused him of using his position as one of opera’s most celebrated singers to pressure them into sexual relationships.

Eight singers and a dancer told AP they were sexually harassed in incidents dating back to the 1980s. Some said they felt their careers had been damaged by rejecting his advances.

“The allegations from these unnamed individuals dating back as many as 30 years are deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate,” said Domingo.

“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.”