For many years, Placido Domingo, one of the crucial celebrated and highly effective males in opera, has tried to strain girls into sexual relationships by dangling jobs after which typically punishing the ladies professionally after they refused his advances, quite a few girls informed The Related Press.
Thought to be one of many best opera singers of all time, Domingo is also a prolific conductor and the director of the Los Angeles Opera. The a number of Grammy winner is an immensely revered determine in his rarefied world, described by colleagues as a person of prodigious allure and vitality who works tirelessly to advertise his artwork type.
However the girls accusing him and others within the business say there’s a troubling facet to the 78-year-old — one they are saying has lengthy been an open secret within the opera world.
Eight singers and a dancer have informed AP they had been sexually harassed by the long-married, Spanish-born famous person over three many years starting within the late 1980s, at venues that included opera corporations the place he held high managerial positions.
One lady stated Domingo caught his hand down her skirt and three others stated he compelled moist kisses on their lips — in a dressing room, a resort room and at a lunch assembly.
“A business lunch is not strange,” stated one of many singers. “Somebody trying to hold your hand during a business lunch is strange — or putting their hand on your knee is a little strange. He was always touching you in some way, and always kissing you.”
Along with the 9 complainants, a half-dozen different girls informed AP that suggestive overtures by Domingo made them uncomfortable, together with one singer who stated he repeatedly requested her out on dates after hiring her to sing a sequence of live shows with him within the 1990s.
AP additionally spoke to virtually three dozen different singers, dancers, orchestra musicians, backstage workers, voice academics and directors who stated they witnessed inappropriate sexually tinged behaviour by Domingo and he pursued youthful girls with impunity.
Domingo didn’t reply to detailed questions on particular incidents, however issued an announcement saying: “The allegations from these unnamed people relationship again as many as 30 years are deeply troubling, and as introduced, inaccurate.
“Nonetheless, it’s painful to listen to that I could have upset anybody or made them really feel uncomfortable — irrespective of how way back and regardless of my greatest intentions. I believed that every one of my interactions and relationships had been at all times welcomed and consensual. Individuals who know me or who’ve labored with me know that I am not somebody who would deliberately hurt, offend, or embarrass anybody.
“However, I recognize that the rules and standards by which we are — and should be — measured against today are very different than they were in the past. I am blessed and privileged to have had a more than 50-year career in opera and will hold myself to the highest standards.”
Emboldened by #MeToo to come back ahead
The ladies — who stated they had been emboldened to talk out by the #MeToo motion — had been principally younger and beginning their careers on the time.
A number of stated they took excessive measures to keep away from Domingo, together with asking colleagues to stay with them whereas at work and never answering their residence telephones. The dancer known as her avoidance approach “the bob and weave, the giggle and get out,” and one soprano labelled it “walking the tightrope.”
Seven of the 9 complainants informed AP they really feel their careers had been adversely impacted after they rejected Domingo’s advances, with some saying roles he promised by no means materialized and several other noting that whereas they went on to work with different corporations, they had been by no means employed to work with him once more.
Solely one of many 9 girls would permit her identify for use — Patricia Wulf, a mezzo-soprano who sang with Domingo on the Washington Opera. The others requested anonymity, saying they both nonetheless work within the enterprise and worry reprisals or are nervous they is likely to be publicly humiliated and even harassed.
The accusers’ tales lay out strikingly related patterns of behaviour that included Domingo persistently contacting them — typically calling them repeatedly at residence late at night time — expressing curiosity of their careers and urging them to fulfill him privately underneath the guise of providing skilled recommendation.
Not one of the girls might supply documentation, reminiscent of cellphone messages, however AP spoke to many colleagues and associates that they confided in. As well as, AP independently verified the ladies labored the place they stated they did and Domingo overlapped with them at these places.
Two of the ladies stated they briefly gave in to Domingo’s advances, feeling they could not danger jeopardizing their careers by saying no to essentially the most highly effective man of their occupation.
One among them stated she had intercourse with him twice, together with on the Biltmore resort in Los Angeles. When Domingo left for a efficiency, the lady stated, he put $10 on the dresser, saying, “I don’t want you to feel like a prostitute, but I also don’t want you to have to pay to park.”
‘Did I simply damage my profession?’
On the Washington Opera, the place Domingo served as inventive after which basic director for 15 years, Wulf stated, the star would confront her night time after night time with the identical whispered query.
“Every time I would walk off stage, he would be in the wings waiting for me,” she stated. “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 stated she commonly would rebuff him, however his pursuit remained relentless.
It obtained to some extent, Wulf stated, that she would attempt to disguise from Domingo behind a pillar. She additionally would disguise in her dressing room and peek to verify he was not within the hallway earlier than she left, she stated.
“As soon as you walk away and get away, you think, ‘Did I just ruin my career?’ And that went on through that entire production.”
A dancer who labored with the famous person in a number of cities stated a flirtatious Domingo known as her late at night time on and off for a couple of decade within the 1990s, leaving brazen messages she would take heed to in shock along with her husband.
Domingo would ask her to fulfill him, together with in his resort room, however she stated she would solely go to lunch with him, at all times framed as a enterprise meal. Nonetheless, she stated, his arms would wander to her knee or he would maintain her hand or kiss her cheek in ways in which made her uncomfortable.
She stated she would surprise to her husband: “‘Does he perceive the chance he is placing me in, that he might wreck my marriage, wreck my profession?’
“Whenever you’re working for essentially the most highly effective man within the opera, you attempt to play ball.”
One afternoon after they had been working collectively on the Washington Opera, she stated, Domingo requested her to fulfill for lunch at his resort restaurant to debate work. After the meal, he stated he wanted to cease at his room earlier than they walked to a rehearsal.
“He took me as much as his room, ostensibly to select up his stuff, and he invitations me in. And he begins hugging me and kissing me.”
She pushed him away, she stated, and insisted she needed to get to rehearsal.
“When I clearly was not going to have intercourse with him, he simply walked me to the elevator and went again to his room. The elevator doorways opened, and I dropped. I simply fell to the ground within the elevator and was sweating profusely.”
A former opera administrator stated he was conscious for years that Domingo was “consistently chasing” the dancer. And a conductor who is friends with the dancer said he recalled after she “stated no to Domingo, she had the rug pulled out for a number of years.”
After the resort incident, the dancer stated, she did not work with the famous person for a number of years.
“There have been years when I was a wreck about it and scared that I’d by no means be employed once more.”
Ultimately, she stated, she was “let again into his good graces.
“What he did is wrong,” she stated. “He used his power, he stalked women, he put women in positions of vulnerability. People have dropped out of the business and been just erased because of submitting or not submitting to him.”