Placido Domingo, the celebrated opera star and recent subject of a slew of sexual harassment allegations, has withdrawn from the New York Metropolitan Opera.
The Associated Press reports that Domingo “agreed to withdraw from all future performances at the Met, effective immediately,” according to a statement from the Met Opera. Domingo was supposed to perform the title role in the Met’s production of Verdi’s Macbeth, which opens on Wednesday night. Domingo released a 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 onstage 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.
Domingo added that he considered his dress rehearsal for Macbeth his “last performance on the Met stage.”
The “recent allegations” he so strongly disputes, meanwhile, are those made by a total of 20 women, all of whom alleged to the Associated Press recently that the singer and general director of the LA Opera had engaged in a longstanding pattern of abuse. The women say Domingo would grope them (one woman says Domingo grabbed her bare breast while she was changing), try to kiss them, coerce them into going on dates, and, in a few cases, pressure them into sex. These women worked in the opera industry and were afraid of retribution, should they rebuff him or speak out against him, as is, of course, a common refrain among the victims of powerful men.
After the allegations were first published, the Met said they would wait on an internal investigation from the LA Opera before taking action against Domingo. But according to the New York Times, over the weekend multiple members of the opera told the company’s general manager, Peter Gelb, that they were uncomfortable working with Domingo in light of the accusations. And on Tuesday morning, New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, who represents the district encompassing the Met’s home at Lincoln Center, called for Domingo to be dropped from Macbeth.
“I believe they have an obligation to hold their performers to a high standard, given the fact that they are one of the world’s most important cultural institutions,” Hoylman told the Associated Press. “They should be thinking also not just about his celebrity and star power, but about the 20 women who allegedly have made complaints.”
Angela Turner Wilson, the woman who accused Domingo of groping her breast, told the Associated Press she was “relieved” he would no longer be performing at the Met, but that the company’s reluctance to drop him earlier was “a major concern to me and many others who wish to see the current culture of sexual harassment and retaliation removed from our industry.”
This is not the first time in recent history that the Met has come under fire for harboring an accused sex harasser. Former Met conductor James Levine was fired from the company in March 2018, after an investigation revealed “credible evidence that Mr. Levine had engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct both before and during the period when he worked at the Met.” The company settled their lawsuits with him in August.