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Placido Domingo withdraws from Met Opera amid harassment claims

The opera superstar indicated that he would never perform at the Met again.

Placido Domingo (Adam Davy/PA)
Placido Domingo (Adam Davy/PA)

By Ronald Blum, Associated Press

The Metropolitan Opera has announced Placido Domingo has agreed to withdraw from his slate of scheduled performances at the New York theatre amid allegations of sexual harassment made by multiple women.

The opera superstar indicated that he would never again perform at the Met.

Domingo had been scheduled to sing the title role in the season premiere of Verdi’s Macbeth on Wednesday night, which would have been his first performance in the US since the Associated Press reported that numerous women had accused him of inappropriate behaviour, including one soprano who said he grabbed her bare breast.

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 Placido Domingo

The Met had been under increasing pressure to cancel his appearances, but general manager Peter Gelb reiterated to performers after a dress rehearsal on Saturday that the opera house was awaiting results of investigations by the LA Opera, where Domingo has been general director since 2003, and the American Guild of Musical Artists, the union that represents various opera staff.

Domingo, who had sung in rehearsals, issued a statement saying his Met career was over after what the company said was 706 performances as a singer, plus 169 as a conductor.

“I made my debut at the Metropolitan Opera at the age of 27 and have sung at this magnificent theatre for 51 consecutive, glorious years,” the star said.

We are grateful to him for recognising that he needed to step down Peter Gelb

“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.”

The Met said the long-married, Spanish-born star had “agreed to withdraw from all future performances at the Met, effective immediately”.

Mr Gelb sent an email to Met staff saying: “We are grateful to him for recognising that he needed to step down.”

Me and many others ... wish to see the current culture of sexual harassment and retaliation removed from our industry. It is time Angela Turner Wilson

The Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Opera and Dallas Opera previously cancelled upcoming concerts starring Domingo after the AP stories were published, but his reception has been different in Europe, where he received lengthy ovations after concert performances of Verdi’s Luisa Miller at Salzburg Festival in Austria on August 25 and 31, weeks after the initial AP story.

Angela Turner Wilson, the singer who allowed the AP to use her name in accusing Domingo of grabbing her breast, said she was “relieved” by the Met’s action, but criticised Mr Gelb for previously asserting the opera house could not act without corroborated evidence and that all of Domingo’s accusers were anonymous.

She called Mr Gelb’s remarks “a major concern to me and many others who wish to see the current culture of sexual harassment and retaliation removed from our industry. It is time”.

Another of Domingo’s accusers, Patricia Wulf, also called the withdrawal a relief.

“I feel like we accomplished something,” said Wulf, who accused Domingo of repeatedly harassing her during performances at Washington Opera in the late 1990s, while he was general director of the company.

“The Met finally stepped up and did the right thing,” she told the AP.

PA

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