Plácido Domingo fighting new wave of sexual harassment claims

String of concerts cancelled as 11 women come forward to accuse opera star

 Plácido Domingo listens to applause at the end of a concert in Szeged, Hungary, on August 28th. Photograph: Laszlo Balogh/AP

Plácido Domingo listens to applause at the end of a concert in Szeged, Hungary, on August 28th. Photograph: Laszlo Balogh/AP

 

The Dallas Opera has become the latest organisation to cancel plans to work with Spanish tenor and conductor Plácido Domingo, who is facing a new barrage of sexual harassment allegations by women who used to work with him.

The Opera house announced it was calling off a spring 2020 gala concert featuring the singer in the wake of accusations made by 11 women and reported by the Associated Press this week.

That followed an earlier report by the news agency in August in which nine women claimed that Mr Domingo (78), who is director general of Los Angeles Opera, had behaved inappropriately with them. Those initial allegations caused both the Philadelphia Orchestra and San Francisco Opera to cancel scheduled concerts at which he was due to perform.

The new set of accusations have been almost exclusively anonymous, as was the case with those made in August, with women involved saying that they feared for their careers if their names were released. However, the singer Angela Turner Wilson has gone on the record, offering details of her experience at the Washington Opera during the 1999-2000 season, when she performed alongside the Spaniard.

Propositions

She told of being constantly pursued and propositioned by Mr Domingo, who was at the time the company’s artistic director, and on one occasion of him groping her breasts.

“I would lock my dressing room door,” Ms Wilson, now 48, told the AP. “My dresser would tell me if he was outside.”

Other women spoke of persistent requests for private meetings, late-night phone calls and unwanted touching and attempts to kiss them on the lips.

Melinda McLain, a production co-ordinator, said that when she worked alongside Mr Domingo she always tried to make sure the singer was not alone with women. She also said she tried to invite his wife Marta, to whom he has been married since 1962, to social events in order to ensure he behaved appropriately.

The initial allegations published last month contained claims that Mr Domingo had used his powerful position to intimidate women into accepting his advances, and damage their careers if they did not.

A statement given by the singer’s spokeswoman, Nancy Seltzer, rejected the allegations and suggested that the news agency publishing them was waging a campaign “to denigrate” Mr Domingo.

“These new claims are riddled with inconsistencies and, as with the first story, in many ways simply incorrect,” the statement said.

In Spain some observers have been sceptical about the controversy, particularly given that the vast majority of the accusations have been anonymous. The right-wing ABC newspaper said the series of concert cancellations in response to the scandal were “without a doubt, the result of the dictatorship of the politically correct”.

But others have applauded what they see as the unmasking of one of Spain’s best-known artistic figures.

“Plácido Domingo is a legend for many opera lovers and he is also one of those national legends upon which national identity is built and rests,” wrote the poet and commentator Ruth Toledano.

“Fighting the legend often also means fighting the monster.”