For decades, Placido Domingo, one of the crucial celebrated and highly effective males in opera, has tried to strain ladies into sexual relationships by dangling jobs after which typically punishing the women professionally once they refused his advances, quite a few accusers advised The Related Press.
Considered one of many biggest opera singers of all time, Domingo is also a prolific conductor and the director of the Los Angeles Opera. The multiple Grammy winner is an immensely revered determine in his rarefied world, described by colleagues as a man of prodigious appeal and power who works tirelessly to advertise his art type.
At 78, Domingo nonetheless attracts sellout crowds around the globe and continues including to the 150 roles he has sung in four,000-plus performances, greater than any opera singer in historical past.
However his accusers and others in the business say there’s a troubling aspect to Domingo — one they say has long been an open secret within the opera world.
Eight singers and a dancer have advised the AP that they have been sexually harassed by the long-married, Spanish-born celebrity in encounters that occurred over three many years beginning within the late 1980s, at venues that included opera corporations where he held prime managerial positions.
One accuser stated Domingo stuck his hand down her skirt and three others stated he pressured wet kisses on their lips — in a dressing room, a lodge room and at a lunch assembly.
“A business lunch shouldn’t be unusual,” stated one of the singers. “Any person making an attempt to carry your hand during a enterprise lunch is strange — or placing their hand in your knee is a bit unusual. He was all the time touching you not directly, and all the time kissing you.”
Along with the nine accusers, a half-dozen other ladies informed the AP that suggestive overtures by Domingo made them uncomfortable, together with one singer who stated he repeatedly asked her out on dates after hiring her to sing a collection of live shows with him in the 1990s.
The AP also spoke to virtually three dozen different singers, dancers, orchestra musicians, members of backstage employees, voice academics and an administrator who stated they witnessed inappropriate sexually tinged conduct by Domingo and that he pursued younger ladies with impunity.
Domingo did not respond to detailed questions from the AP about particular incidents, but issued a press release saying: “The allegations from these unnamed people courting back as many as thirty years are deeply troubling, and as introduced, inaccurate.
“Still, it is painful to listen to that I’ll have upset anyone or made them feel uncomfortable — regardless of how long ago and regardless of my greatest intentions. I believed that each one of my interactions and relationships have been all the time welcomed and consensual. People who know me or who have worked with me know that I’m not someone who would intentionally harm, offend, or embarrass anybody.
“Nevertheless, I recognize that the principles and standards by which we’re — and must be — measured towards as we speak are very totally different than they have been up to now. I’m blessed and privileged to have had a greater than 50-year career in opera and will hold myself to the very best standards.”
On Tuesday, the LA Opera, where Domingo has served as basic director since 2003, stated it might rent outdoors counsel to research the allegations towards the star. And the Philadelphia Orchestra rescinded an invitation for Domingo appear at its opening night time concert subsequent month.
Domingo’s next concert is scheduled for Aug. 31 on the Salzburg Pageant, which stated Tuesday that he would seem as deliberate.
New York’s Metropolitan Opera stated it will await the outcomes of the LA company’s investigation before any “ultimate selections” about Domingo’s future on the Met, the place he’s scheduled to seem next month.
Seven of Domingo’s nine accusers informed the AP they really feel their careers have been adversely impacted after rejecting his advances, with some saying that roles he promised never materialized and a number of other noting that whereas they went on to work with different corporations, they have been by no means hired to work with him once more.
Only one of the 9 ladies would permit her identify to be used — Patricia Wulf, a mezzo-soprano who sang with Domingo at the Washington Opera. The others requested anonymity, saying they both still work within the enterprise and feared reprisals or frightened they is perhaps publicly humiliated and even harassed.
The accusers’ stories lay out strikingly comparable patterns of conduct that included Domingo persistently contacting them — typically calling them repeatedly at house late at night time — expressing curiosity in their careers and urging them to satisfy him privately for a drink or a meal, or at his condo or lodge room, underneath the guise of providing skilled recommendation.
Not one of the ladies might supply documentation, corresponding to telephone messages, however the AP spoke to many colleagues and associates who they confided in. In addition, the AP independently verified that the women worked where they stated they did and that Domingo overlapped with them at those places.
The AP has withheld certain particulars in instances the place it might lead to identification of the accuser.
Two of the women stated they briefly gave in to Domingo’s advances, feeling they couldn’t danger jeopardizing their careers by saying no to probably the most powerful man of their career.
Certainly one of them stated she had sex with him twice, including at the Biltmore lodge in Los Angeles. When Domingo left for a performance, 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 need you to need to pay to park.”
Most of the accusers stated they have been warned repeatedly by colleagues to never be alone with Domingo, even in an elevator. In the event that they did be a part of him for a meal, they stated they have been advised to avoid alcohol and meet at a public place — for lunch, not dinner.
The women making the accusations have been principally young and starting their careers at the time.
Several stated they took extreme measures to avoid Domingo, together with not using the ladies’ room near his office, asking other singers or backstage employees to stay with them whereas at work, and never answering their telephones at residence.
The dancer referred to as her avoidance method “the bob and weave, the giggle and get out,” and one soprano labeled it “walking the tightrope.”
Domingo’s influence in the opera world is so great that Wulf was the only individual among the dozens who talked to the AP who spoke on the document. And lots of of those that spoke did so reluctantly, fearing retribution but in addition not eager to inflict collateral injury on the business itself.
But finally, those that talked to the AP stated they felt emboldened by the #MeToo motion and decided the simplest method to assault the entrenched sexual misconduct in their business was to call out the conduct of opera’s most outstanding figure.
“There’s an oral tradition of warning ladies towards Placido Domingo,” stated a mezzo-soprano who worked on the LA Opera however isn’t among the accusers. She echoed recommendation that several ladies stated that they had acquired: “Avoid interplay with him at all costs. And undoubtedly don’t be alone with him.”
A quick take a look at the profession of opera star Placido Domingo.
“Am I going to be the target or not?”
One other mezzo-soprano who is likely one of the accusers was 23 and singing within the LA Opera refrain when she first met Domingo in 1988.
Throughout a rehearsal of “Tales of Hoffman,” she was chosen to kiss Domingo in an orgy scene. She stated she remembers wiping his saliva off her face from a sloppy, moist kiss after which he whispered in her ear, “I wish we weren’t on stage.”
After that incident, she stated, Domingo started calling her at residence steadily, though she had not given him her quantity. He advised her she was a gifted singer with a promising future and he needed to assist her.
“I hadn’t started my career yet. I was utterly flattered. And floored. And excited,” she stated. “Then it received creepier.”
“He would say things like, ‘Come to my condominium. Let’s sing via some arias. I’ll offer you coaching. I’d like to hear what you are able to do for casting.’”
Over the course of the subsequent three years, she stated, he was uncomfortably affectionate, slipping a hand around her waist once they crossed backstage or giving her a kiss on the cheek a bit too near the mouth. He knew the key codes for the dressing rooms and would enter uninvited, she stated, which she stated she assumed was to catch her undressed.
Domingo was an inventive marketing consultant at LA Opera in the 1980s when his stardom went mainstream. Newsweek journal dubbed him “The King of The Opera” in a 1982 cover story and he appeared on in style tv exhibits like “Sesame Road,” where a character, Placido Flamingo, was named for him. His collaboration in the “Three Tenors,” with the late Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras, produced the best-selling classical recording of all time.
Somewhat than offend Domingo and danger dropping future assignments, the mezzo-soprano stated she strenuously tried to avoid being alone with him, while also striving to not insult him. But he didn’t take the trace, she stated, and resumed his unwelcome pursuit each time he returned to Los Angeles.
One night time, she stated, she agreed to satisfy Domingo about 11 p.m. “and then I had a full-blown panic attack. I freaked out, and I simply stored not answering the telephone. He simply crammed up the machine, calling me till 3:30 in the morning.”
She stated she didn’t report his conduct as a result of “that just wasn’t accomplished” and in addition feared any misstep might kill her profession.
Singers and directors would “smile and shrug,” she stated. “Everyone would see me operating around to avoid him and snicker it off. That’s how everyone handled Placido.”
One backstage employees member stated many felt Domingo was pursuing the mezzo-soprano “indirectly that she was not wanting. We have been all conscious of that.” And a male singer and good friend informed the AP that he remembered the singer in search of his advice about learn how to navigate the state of affairs.
The mezzo-soprano stated she would mentally put together herself for the star’s returns to Los Angeles. “I used to metal myself when he was in town, considering, ‘Am I going to be the target or not? What is going to I say to him when he asks me again? How am I going to get out of it?’”
In 1991, she stated, “I lastly gave in and slept with him. I ran out of excuses. It was like, ‘OK, I assume this is what I have to do.’”
She stated she had intercourse with Domingo on two occasions, on the Biltmore and at his Los Angeles condominium.
She stated the celebrity talked about his “superstition that he had to be with a lady earlier than a present” to help him loosen up and calm his nerves.
“I’ll sing higher — and it’ll all be due to you,” she stated he informed her before he deposited $10 on the lodge dresser for the parking payment.
She reduce off physical contact after the second encounter, a move she is convinced derailed her career at LA Opera.
“I don’t have a smoking gun,” she stated, however “for anyone who was calling me and making an attempt to see me yearly, each time he was on the town, to only never contact me again and never hire me once more is fairly convenient.”
“How do you say no to God?”
The LA Opera introduced in 1998 that Domingo would grow to be its inventive director, after working for years as a marketing consultant for the corporate.
A younger singer who met Domingo at a rehearsal that yr stated he instantly started calling her at house.
“He would say, ‘I’m going to talk to you as the longer term inventive director of the corporate’” and talk about attainable roles for her, she stated. “Then he would decrease his voice and say, ‘Now I’m going to speak to you as Placido,’” she stated, and ask her to satisfy him — for a drink in Santa Monica, to see a movie, to return to his house so he might prepare dinner her breakfast.
During certainly one of his frequent uninvited visits to her dressing room, he admired her costume, leaning ahead to kiss her cheeks and putting one hand on the aspect of her breast, she stated.
From the beginning, the singer — who was 27 and just starting her career — stated she felt panicked and trapped.
“I was totally intimidated and felt like saying no to him can be saying no to God. How do you say no to God?” she stated.
Because the calls wore on, she stopped choosing up the telephone. In individual, she gave excuses, she stated: She was busy, she was tired, she had an audition, she was married. She quoted Domingo as replying on one occasion: “It’s a shame your husband doesn’t understand about your profession.”
After one performance, the singer stated she went residence and answered the telephone, her coronary heart sinking when she heard Domingo’s voice.
He advised her he had champagne and requested if he might come decide her up so they might rejoice the performance. In that second, she stated, she had “a sense of impending doom” that “I wasn’t going to have an opera career if I didn’t give in.” So, she stated, she reluctantly agreed.
“He picked me up in his BMW and I received within the automotive with him. He was very excited. He was touching my knee. I went in my mind into appearing so I might stay with myself,” she stated. She stated they drove to his house near the opera’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the place champagne was waiting.
“We have been sitting on the couch and sooner or later, he started kissing me,” she stated. She stated he then led her to a bedroom the place he took her garments off, then undressed himself. They engaged in “heavy petting” and “groping,” she stated.
Domingo continued to pursue her within the days and weeks after, she stated, calling her repeatedly. “I felt like prey. I felt like I used to be being hunted by him,” she stated.
Finally, she informed him the calls wanted to cease and reminded him that she was married.
“I used to be not ready for a way a lot it will mess with my confidence, and my feeling disgrace about it and wondering who knew and in the event that they thought that’s why I received a chance or a task,” she stated. “I started to doubt my very own talent and expertise.”
The singer’s husband confirmed to the AP that she had advised him at the time Domingo was persistently calling and that “ultimately it was fairly clear he was propositioning her.” When she confessed to what had happened with Domingo, the husband stated her description of the star’s conduct persuaded him “that the one strategy to get out of it was to either give in — or give him a hard no and give up all considerations of your career.”
A pal and colleague of the singer advised the AP that she remembered the singer saying Domingo was inundating her with calls and ignoring requests to stop. The singer’s weight dropped dramatically and she or he developed issues together with her nerves, the colleague stated.
“It was like watching somebody be psychologically killed,” the colleague stated. “She acquired smaller and smaller as an individual.”
The singer stated that when Domingo took over management of casting selections at the LA Opera, he never hired her once more.
Now 49 and retired, she stated she is haunted by fears that submitting to Domingo had mitigated any wrongdoing on his part.
“I nonetheless wrestle with the sense that I let myself down, pushing by way of and doing my job once I ought to have raised holy hell,” she stated.
“Do you need to go residence tonight?”
Patricia Wulf, another mezzo-soprano who labored with Domingo, stated he would confront her night time after night time with the identical whispered query.
“Every time I might walk off stage, he can be within the wings ready for me,” she stated. “He would come proper as much as me, as shut as could possibly be, put his face right in my face, decrease his voice and say, ‘Patricia, do you need to go house tonight?’”
At first, she stated, she nervously laughed off Domingo’s remarks, although she thought-about them offensive. However when he continued, she made her position clear.
“I might say, ‘Sure! I’ve to go house tonight.’ And I might stroll away.”
It was 1998 and Wulf’s career was taking off at the Washington Opera, the place Domingo served as inventive director from 1996-2003 and common director from 2003-2011.
Then 40, she had been employed to do two solo roles that yr, first in a production of “The Magic Flute” and later in “Fedora,” which starred Domingo and the good Italian soprano Mirella Freni. The chance to work with such well-known singers was a career excessive level, she stated, but the experience shortly turned a nightmare.
In an interview at her house in Virginia, Wulf, now 61, held again tears as she associated how, after investing years training her voice, she finally arrived on the large stage, solely to seek out herself dealing with a predicament she didn’t know how you can deal with.
“It’s a must to understand that when a person that powerful — he’s virtually like God in my enterprise — when he would come up that close and say that, the very first thing that goes by means of your mind is ‘What?!’
“However,” she added, “you additionally assume as quickly as you stroll away and get away, you assume, ‘Did I simply break my career?’ And that went on by way of that whole production.”
Wulf stated Domingo’s pursuit seemingly had no bounds.
“It acquired to some extent that I might come off stage and attempt to slither behind a pillar, and he would nonetheless find a method to get to me,” she stated.
She stated Domingo would typically knock on her dressing room door uninvited and that she feared leaving the room if he was in the hallway.
“I’d open the door and peek and see if he was there. And if he was there, I might simply wait,” she stated.
She stated when she introduced her husband, Richard Lew, to the “Magic Flute” opening night time celebration, Domingo “came proper up to me, took my hand, shook my hand, kissed each cheeks and he whispered in my ear, ‘I want to meet my rival.’”
Lew informed the AP that he would ask his spouse after each performance, “Did it happen once more? Did he say the same thing?” He added that “at a sure point, we didn’t should ask. You may simply inform by how upset she was.”
Wulf recalled the compassion of a male colleague who provided to stand up for her if she needed to report him. “They’re not going to fireside him — they’ll hearth me,” she remembered telling him.
Contacted by the AP, the previous colleague recalled Wulf’s discomfort and stated he would accompany her to her automotive at work because she feared going alone.
Wulf stated that Domingo didn’t physically touch her but that there was no mistaking his intentions.
“Completely and most definitely, that was sexual harassment,” she stated. “When a person steps that close to you and with a wry smile asks if I have to go residence — repeatedly — I can provide you with no other conclusion than him eager to mattress me. Especially given his status for that.”
“It affected the best way I handled males for the rest of my operatic profession and the rest of my life,” she added.
Wulf stated she is talking out as a result of the silence about what she referred to as the “well-known secret” of Domingo’s conduct has stretched on too long. “I’m stepping forward as a result of I hope that it will probably help other ladies come forward, or be robust sufficient to say no,” she stated.
“I used to be frozen in terror.”
Another singer who worked in Los Angeles in the mid-2000s informed the AP that she already knew of Domingo’s status when he took an excessive curiosity in her career. She made positive she all the time had an excuse for leaving right after work.
“At first, I wasn’t scared. I assumed I might handle it,” she stated, noting that he was persistent however not bodily aggressive.
However one night time after rehearsal, he caught her off-guard, she stated, asking her for a experience house.
“The entire premise was ridiculous: Why would Placido Domingo not have a journey residence?” she stated. “However what was I going to do?”
Halfway by means of the brief drive, she stated, he put his hand on her leg and, as she reached his building, directed her toward a aspect entrance and advised her to tug over.
“He leaned in and tried to kiss me,” then requested her upstairs, she stated. She added that she declined, saying she had different plans.
A number of weeks later, she stated, Domingo approached her on an evening that he knew she was scheduled to remain late.
He informed her, “I’ve been making an attempt to get you to work on this aria with me for weeks. I really need to hear you sing this position. Are you able to come to my condo and we’ll run by means of this aria?”
His tone was totally different, she recalled. He sounded impatient.
“It sounds loopy to say, nevertheless it felt like he had invested a lot time on this pursuit that he was irritated with me,” she stated. “I felt like I’ve dragged this out and prevented him for six weeks and he is Placido and he is my boss and he’s offering to work with me on this position.”
She went to his condominium, where he poured two glasses of wine, she stated.
“He sat down at the grand piano and we really did sing this aria, and we worked on it,” she stated. “And he gave me teaching and was very complimentary.”
But then, she stated, “When it was over, he stood up and slid his hand down my skirt, and that was once I had to get out of there.”
She stated he followed her into the hallway, begged her to stay, then gestured downward and advised her he had “two hours left,” which she believed was a reference to a sexual performance drug.
Back at her automotive, she sat in shock “for a long time till I felt like I might drive,” she stated.
“I went house and was terrified to return to work,” she stated. “I was frozen in terror for that entire contract.”
Since then, she has sung at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, the San Francisco Opera and elsewhere, however has never again been hired to sing at the Los Angeles house or with Domingo.
“I’ve been onerous on myself for some time,” the singer stated. “Having a coaching session with anyone who gives you teaching shouldn’t be consenting to sex.”
“Does he perceive the danger he’s putting me in?”
A dancer who labored with the celebrity in several cities started recounting her experiences with him by stating, “My story is exceptionally widespread.”
She stated a flirtatious Domingo referred to as her late at night time on-and-off for a few decade in the 1990s, leaving brazen messages that she would take heed to in shock together with her husband.
Domingo would ask her to satisfy him, including in his lodge room, but she stated she would solely go to lunch with him, all the time framed as a enterprise meal. Still, she stated, his palms would wander to her knee or he would hold her hand or kiss her cheek in ways that made her uncomfortable.
She stated she would marvel to her husband: ”‘Does he understand the danger he’s putting me in, that he might wreck my marriage, wreck my profession? Does he perceive what he’s doing right here?’ But he didn’t care.”
“Whenever you’re working for probably the most highly effective man within the opera, you attempt to play ball,” she stated, adding that she was cautious to never insult him and tried to attraction to his ego.
One afternoon once they have been working collectively at the Washington Opera, she stated Domingo requested her to satisfy for lunch at his lodge restaurant to debate work. After the meal, he steered they walk to rehearsal however stated he wanted to first cease at his room.
“He took me as much as his room, ostensibly to select up his stuff, and he invitations me in,” she stated. “And he begins hugging me and kissing me.”
She pushed him away, she stated, and insisted she had to get to rehearsal.
“Once I clearly was not going to have sex with him, he just walked me to the elevator and went back to his room,” she stated. “The elevator doorways opened, and I dropped. I just fell to the ground within the elevator and was sweating profusely.”
A former opera administrator stated he was aware for years that Domingo was “always chasing” the dancer. And a conductor who’s associates with the dancer stated he recalled after she “stated no to Domingo, she had the rug pulled out for a number of years.”
An opera worker who labored intently with Domingo stated she found him gentlemanly and respectful, however confirmed that the dancer had complained of being harassed by the celebrity for years. She stated the dancer informed her what occurred in Domingo’s lodge room, including that her impression was that “although he was persistent, he did take no for an answer.”
After the lodge incident, the dancer stated she didn’t work with Domingo for several years.
“There have been years once I was a wreck about it and scared that I’d by no means be employed again,” the dancer stated. Ultimately, she stated, she was “let again into his good graces.”
Maybe for that cause, she stated she feels conflicted about how you can categorize Domingo’s conduct.
“What he did is improper,” the dancer stated. “He used his energy, he stalked ladies, he put ladies in positions of vulnerability. Individuals have dropped out of the enterprise and been just erased due to submitting or not submitting to him.”
“He stored calling and leaving messages. I obtained frightened.”
Domingo’s pursuits extended beyond the concert corridor, in line with one singer who stated she encountered him in Italy during a backpacking journey.
In her 20s at the time, the singer was a master’s scholar at The Juilliard Faculty in 1992, spending the summer time traveling in Europe together with her sister.
While in Rome, they stayed at a finances lodge off the Campo de Fiori, where she sang within the shower one morning with the window open. The doorman from a close-by luxurious lodge yelled as much as ask who was singing, she stated, telling her that Domingo was a visitor in his lodge and had heard her.
“He stated you’ve an attractive voice and he needs to satisfy you,” she stated the doorman informed her.
Domingo — who was in Rome that summer time performing “Tosca” for a stay broadcast around the globe — sent a message asking her to satisfy him about 10 p.m. at one other lodge.
She remembered strolling into the lodge lobby and telling a clerk that she was meeting Placido Domingo. She was led up to the roof, the place a personal desk was arrange and Domingo emerged wearing an elaborate costume-like robe and a billowy white shirt, with a lovely, younger brunette on his arm.
“The entire thing felt like one thing out of a film,” she stated.
She stated she advised him she was a scholar at Juilliard and he insisted she come see him that fall on the Metropolitan Opera, situated a block from her faculty on Manhattan’s Upper West Aspect, so she might sing for him.
“He stated he thought he might help me with my profession,” she stated.
Back in New York, she went to one among Domingo’s performances, then went backstage, where he remembered her and requested for her telephone quantity, she stated.
“At that time, I used to be enamored with the entire state of affairs and excited to satisfy this actually famous individual with a tremendous voice,” she stated. “Then I started getting telephone calls.”
“He would speak on this childlike voice that was flirty,” she recalled. “He needed to return to my house — and that was weird.”
“In Italy and at the Met, the hook was, ‘I need to hear you sing. I can join you with individuals.’ Once he began calling, it was just, ‘I need to see you. I need to meet you,’” she stated.
She stated she consulted a good friend in the opera enterprise who warned her to keep away from him.
“He was tenacious. He didn’t cease calling and calling and calling. The primary couple occasions, I put him off. Then it obtained ridiculous. He stored calling and leaving messages. I acquired frightened.”
“His aggressiveness was too much to assume he didn’t have an ulterior motive,” she stated.
At one level, she asked a male classmate to answer her telephone. Domingo by no means referred to as once more, she stated.
“It was the demise of the hero.”
One other soprano stated she felt she had reached the top of her career when the opportunity arose to work with Domingo on the Met in 2002. Domingo was her idol. His wealthy, spellbinding, soulful voice had impressed her to grow to be an opera singer. Then in her 40s, her career objective had lengthy been to work with him.
She remembers feeling elated when he praised her singing, taking her face in his arms after one efficiency and telling her, “You will have moved me. Your efficiency moved me.” He was inventive director at both the Washington and LA operas and informed her, “I’m going to seek out be just right for you. . I do many live shows. And I ask my favorite singers to hitch me.”
One night at intermission, she stated, Domingo knocked on her dressing room door they usually chatted concerning the efficiency before he moved to kiss her goodbye.
“I gave him my cheek and as an alternative he turned my face and kissed my lips,” the soprano stated. “Abruptly there are wet lips on mine. It was a moist, slimy kiss.” As he pulled again, she stated, he asked: ‘Do you perceive?’”
“Sure,” the soprano answered.
“Do you actually understand?” she stated Domingo requested again, caressing her cheek.
″‘Yes, I completely understand.’” she stated she answered.
“That’s all I stated. However for me, it was the demise of the hero. That was the demise of my dream,” she stated. Going forward, she stated she gave him solely her cheek to kiss and not seemed him within the eye.
“He acquired the clear concept that I was not going to be cooperating. And he never pursued me again,” she stated. Regardless of earlier declarations of future employment, she stated she was never once more requested to work with Domingo.
Domingo’s movie star and fame are well-deserved, she stated, and the opera world has benefited from his large talent as a singer and performer.
“He’s acquired a soul when he sings, and that soul is there in the midst of this abuse of power,” she stated.
Echoing a number of different accusers, she stated she felt conflicted about damaging the legendary singer’s status but needed him to know his conduct was flawed.
“It’s not that I would like him to be punished. I would like him to be made aware. I would like him to have the chance to know precisely the sort of injury — emotional, psychological, skilled and in any other case — that he’s liable for,” she stated.