Placido Domingo resigns as general director of LA Opera
SAN FRANCISCO - AP
Opera star Placido Domingo resigned Oct. 2 as general director of the Los Angeles Opera and withdrew from all future performances, following multiple allegations from women who say the legendary tenor sexually harassed them there and at opera companies around the country over a period of decades.
Domingo’s departure from LA Opera raises questions about his future career in the United States, where he has been removed or has stepped down from all scheduled appearances since the allegations were first reported.
In two reports published Aug. 13 and Sept. 5, the AP spoke to more than 20 women who accused Domingo of sexual harassment or other inappropriate, sexually charged conduct. Many 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.
The accusers’ stories laid out strikingly similar patterns of behavior that included Domingo persistently contacting them _ often calling them repeatedly at home, late at night _ expressing interest in their careers and urging them to meet him privately at his apartment or a hotel room, or for a drink or meal, under the guise of offering professional advice. Several women said they took extreme measures to avoid Domingo, hiding from him in dressing rooms, not answering their phones or asking male colleagues to walk them to their cars so they wouldn’t be alone.
In a statement Oct. 2, Domingo said that his ability to continue at LA Opera was “compromised” by the accusations against him.
“I hold Los Angeles Opera very dearly to my heart and count my work to create and build it as among my most important legacies,” said Domingo, 78, who helped found the company in the 1980s and is credited with raising its international profile.
“However, recent accusations that have been made against me in the press have created an atmosphere in which my ability to serve this company that I so love has been compromised,” Domingo said, adding that he would continue to work to clear his name but decided “it is in the best interests of LA Opera for me to resign as general director and withdraw from my future scheduled performances at this time.”
Domingo had been scheduled to headline six performances of “Roberto Devereux” in February and March.
The resignation comes a week after the Metropolitan Opera’s bombshell announcement that Domingo would not be taking the stage in the season premiere of “Macbeth” and possibly ever again. Three other companies, the Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Opera and Dallas Opera, had already removed Domingo from upcoming performances in the wake of the stories.
Christopher Koelsch, the LA Opera’s president and chief executive, thanked Domingo for “his integral role in the creation of our company and his decades of service,” in an email sent to LA Opera staff on Oct. 2.
He noted that an independent investigation that LA Opera launched into Domingo’s alleged misconduct would “continue until its resolution.”
“This has been a painful and challenging period for all of us,” Koelsch wrote in the email. “But it is also engendering difficult, and productive, conversations that I believe will ultimately prove critical in strengthening and improving the company.”
“LA opera knows we must take further steps to guarantee we are doing everything we can to foster a professional and collaborative environment,” Koelsch wrote.