Plácido Domingo Walks Back Apology on Harassment Claims

ImagePlácido Domingo in New York in 2018. The opera world has been divided by allegations that he sexually harassed several performers.
Credit…Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

On Tuesday, the opera star Plácido Domingo apologized to women who had accused him of sexual harassment. “I respect that these women finally felt comfortable enough to speak out, and I want them to know that I am truly sorry,” he said.

“I accept full responsibility for my actions,” he added.

But on Thursday, as some of Europe’s leading opera houses considered canceling his future engagements, Mr. Domingo said he wanted to “correct the false impression” his statement had created.

“My apology was sincere and wholehearted,” he said. “But I know what I haven’t done, and I will deny it again.”

“I have never behaved aggressively toward anybody, nor have I ever done anything to obstruct or hurt the career of anybody,” he continued. “On the contrary, I have dedicated a large part of my half-century in the world of opera to helping the industry and to promoting the career of innumerable singers.”

Mr. Domingo’s statement came just hours before the executive committee of the Teatro Real, the major opera house in Madrid, was to discuss whether to proceed with Mr. Domingo’s appearances in “La Traviata” in May.

Mr. Domingo said he was withdrawing from those performances “to prevent my situation from affecting, harming or causing any additional inconvenience.”

The focus on Mr. Domingo’s behavior started last year, when The Associated Press reported accusations of sexual misconduct. American opera companies quickly distanced themselves from him, but European companies generally stuck by him.

That changed on Tuesday, after the American Guild of Musical Artists, the union representing American opera performers, released the results of its investigation into the allegations. Mr. Domingo, the union said, had “engaged in inappropriate activity, ranging from flirtation to sexual advances, in and outside of the workplace.”

Its conclusion — and Mr. Domingo’s apology — appeared to signal a change in attitudes toward Mr. Domingo, even in Spain, his birthplace, where public support for him has arguably been strongest. On Wednesday, the National Institute of Performing Arts and Music canceled Mr. Domingo’s coming performances at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid, citing his apology.

“From the moment that he says that what happened did happen, involving serious acts that affect many women, we have decided that we could not maintain his presence,” José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, the Spanish culture minister, said on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the newspaper El País reported that another prominent Spanish arts institution, the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, was removing Mr. Domingo’s name from its young-artist training program. Mr. Domingo’s connection to the Palau de les Arts has been close since it opened in 2005, and he performed there in December.

It was unclear whether other opera houses would stick by Mr. Domingo after his latest statement. Mr. Domingo is scheduled to perform this year with companies including the Royal Opera House in London and the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. Both said on Wednesday in emailed statements that they would maintain his engagements.

Mr. Domingo said on Thursday that, if requested, he would withdraw from any future engagements to avoid causing problems for the theaters. “On the other hand,” he said, “I will fulfill all my other commitments where circumstances permit.”

Raphael Minder contributed reporting.


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