Los Angeles Opera said Tuesday it would launch an investigation into sexual harassment claims against its general director and star singer, Plácido Domingo, following a report by The Associated Press.
“We believe all employees and artists should be treated respectfully and feel safe and secure within their work environment,” the opera company said in a statement.
LA Opera said it would “engage outside counsel to investigate the concerning allegations” against Domingo, 78, who has for decades been one of the most celebrated and powerful men in opera.
The investigation follows a report by the AP into allegations of sexual assault and harassment raised by several women against the Spanish-born superstar.
Eight singers and one dancer told the AP that Domingo had a history of pressuring women into sexual relationships in exchange for jobs and on occasion punishing women professionally when they refused his advances.
Three accusers said Domingo forcibly kissed them — in a dressing room, a hotel room and at a lunch meeting. One woman said Domingo stuck his hand down her skirt.
“A business lunch is not strange,” one of the singers told AP. “Somebody trying to hold your hand during a business lunch is strange — or putting their hand on your knee is a little strange. He was always touching you in some way, and always kissing you.”
In addition to the nine accusers, the AP also heard from six other women who said Domingo made suggestive advances toward them. Nearly three dozen other singers, dancers, orchestra musicians, members of backstage staff, voice teachers and an administrator also told AP they witnessed Domingo exhibit inappropriate sexual behavior, particularly toward younger women.
In a statement Tuesday, Domingo said he found the allegations “troubling” but inaccurate.
“The allegations from these unnamed individuals dating back as many as thirty years are deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate,” the singer said. “Still, it is painful to hear that I may have upset anyone or made them feel uncomfortable — no matter how long ago and despite my best intentions.”
Domingo also suggested that “the rules and standards” around harassment and consent today “are very different than they were in the past.”
Several ensembles around the country ― including the San Francisco Opera, the Washington National Opera and the Philadelphia Orchestra ― have canceled upcoming concerts featuring Domingo in the wake of the allegations.
The San Francisco Opera said Tuesday it is “committed to its strong anti-sexual harassment policy and requires all company members to adhere to the highest standards of professional conduct.” The company said it would therefore cancel an Oct. 6 show intended to celebrate Domingo’s 50th anniversary of performing with its ensemble.