After being accused by 20 women of sexual harassment, opera singer Plácido Domingo has withdrawn from all future productions with the Metropolitan Opera.
Domingo, 78, announced his withdrawal from the Met’s production of Verdi’s “Macbeth” on Tuesday, a day before opening night, amidst the ongoing sexual harassment investigation into his conduct. Here is Domingo's statement:
I made my debut at the Metropolitan Opera at the age of 27 and have sung at this magnificent theater for 51 consecutive, glorious years. While I strongly dispute recent allegations made about me, and I am concerned about a climate in which people are condemned without due process, upon reflection, I believe that my appearance in this production of Macbeth would distract from the hard work of my colleagues both on stage and behind the scenes. As a result, I have asked to withdraw and I thank the leadership of the Met for graciously granting my request. I am happy that, at the age of 78, I was able to sing the wonderful title role in the dress rehearsal of Macbeth, which I consider my last performance on the Met stage. I am grateful to God and the public for what they have allowed me to accomplish here at the Metropolitan Opera.
This summer, the Associated Press reported that numerous women had accused Domingo of sexual harassment or inappropriate, sexually charged behavior and of sometimes damaging their careers if they rejected him. Among other things, these stories included unwanted touching, persistent requests for private get-togethers, late-night phone calls and sudden sexual advances.
While the LA Opera, where Domingo has served as a director for over ten years, and the American Guild of Music Arts, the union that represents performers and technical staff at the Met, both said they would launch investigations into his behavior after the AP piece went up, the Met did not take any such action.
NPR reported last week that a number of Met employees had objected to performing alongside Domingo in the upcoming production of "Macbeth," with several employees saying they felt afraid to speak up. It was then reported this week that the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, Peter Gelb, held a meeting with the Met's chorus and orchestra in response to that piece. The employees told NPR that Gelb said "he had not taken any action after 20 women made allegations of sexual misconduct against Domingo to the Associated Press in part because the women came forward only to the AP and not to other credible news outlets as well."
Gelb told the group that because no other media organizations have published accusers' accounts, he felt that the AP's reporting lacked "corroboration." In its reporting, the AP said that it had corroborated the women's allegations; in its initial story, published Aug. 13, the AP said that it had spoken to nearly three dozen people who said that they witnessed "inappropriate sexually tinged behavior" by Domingo.
In addition, the Met sources say, Gelb asserted on Saturday that all the women who spoke to the AP came forward anonymously, which he believes lessens the veracity of their allegations. At least one Met employee challenged that claim during the meeting, pointing out that two of the women have come forward by name: Patricia Wulf and Angela Turner Wilson.
In a statement to the press, the Met added, “The Met and Mr. Domingo are in agreement that he needed to step down.”
As the Times pointed out, Domingo had a long history with the Met: he starred in more opening-night performances there than anyone else, he sang on its stage hundreds of times in a wide variety of roles, and the Met celebrated the 50th anniversary of his debut last year.
Patricia Wulf, a mezzo-soprano who was one of the women to speak with AP about Domingo's behavior, told the Times yesterday, “He’s an incredible artist, a great performer. I just have absolutely no respect for him as a man.”