With the Metropolitan Opera’s bombshell announcement that Plácido Domingo will not take the Met stage this week — and possibly ever again — the legendary singer’s only scheduled U.S. appearances are set for next year in California, including at the LA Opera, where he is general director and under investigation for sexual misconduct.
Three other companies — including the Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Opera and Dallas Opera — already had removed Domingo from upcoming performances in the wake of multiple sexual harassment allegations published by The Associated Press . The Met’s decision came on the eve of Wednesday’s sold-out season opener of “Macbeth,” amid rising tensions inside the venerable institution and threats of protests planned for outside.
In a brief, carefully worded announcement Tuesday , the Met indicated that it had asked the famed tenor to step down, saying, “Plácido Domingo has agreed to withdraw from all future performances at the Met, effective immediately.” In his own statement to Met staff, Domingo said that at the age of 78 he was happy to have sung the title role of “Macbeth” in the dress rehearsal, “which I consider my last performance on the Met stage.”
Domingo said in Tuesday’s statement, “I strongly dispute recent allegations made about me,” without providing any specifics.
For years, Domingo has been the opera world’s most bankable star, with the celebrity power to fill seats in an era of dwindling ticket sales. Over time, he has also widened his portfolio, becoming a prolific conductor and powerful administrator as the general director of two major American companies, first at Washington Opera and later at LA Opera, where he has held the post since 2003.
In two reports published Aug. 13 and Sept. 5 , the AP spoke to multiple women who said Domingo tried to pressure them into sexual relationships and sometimes punished them professionally if they rejected him. All said they feared reporting him because of his power to make or break their careers, and that his behavior was an open secret in the opera world.
In the first report, nine women detailed accusations of sexual harassment, unwanted kisses, backstage touching and other inappropriate behavior that in some instances prompted women to hide from him in dressing rooms and ask male colleagues to walk them to their cars. The second report included an account by soprano Angela Turner Wilson, who said Domingo pursued her for weeks at Washington Opera and unexpectedly reached his hand into her robe and forcefully grabbed her bare breast when they were getting their makeup done before a performance.
Wilson said she felt “relieved” by the Met’s action but also hoped that shining a light on Domingo’s behavior would lead to wider change in the industry.
“It is immensely difficult but absolutely necessary to implement changes in policy and conduct for the safety of future generations of opera singers, all people currently working in opera, and the ultimate survival of our beloved art form,” Wilson said in a statement to AP.
The LA Opera did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday on the progress of its investigation, which it announced over a month ago. Domingo also is being investigated by the American Guild of Musical Artists, the union representing many opera employees, which told AP earlier this week it hopes to conclude its investigation in about two months.
Domingo, who helped found the LA Opera in the 1980s, is scheduled to headline six performances of “Roberto Devereux” in February and March. He is also scheduled to appear in February at the Musco Center for the Arts in Orange County, California.
During its inquiry, LA Opera has removed Domingo from day-to-day operations as general director. It has not given an expected timeframe for the investigation, which is being led by Debra Wong Yang, a former U.S. attorney and Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, now a partner at the law firm of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.
For at least the rest of the year, Domingo’s career will be centered in Europe, where the accusations of harassment have not hurt him professionally.
He was greeted with ovations at concerts this August in Austria, shortly after the accusations emerged.
None of Domingo’s upcoming performances in Europe have been canceled; he has a busy fall lineup of operas and concerts in Switzerland, Russia, Austria, Germany, Spain, Italy and Poland.