Opera star Placido Domingo resigned Wednesday 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 published last month by The Associated Press.
Domingo said in a statement 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 AP stories that detailed multiple allegations of harassment and a variety of misconduct alleged by singers, a dancer and backstage opera employees over a period that spanned decades.
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.
Domingo has denied any wrongdoing. He has called the claims “in many ways, simply incorrect,” but has not elaborated or addressed any of the accusations directly.
For years, Domingo has been the opera world’s most bankable star, with the celebrity power to fill seats in an era of dwindling ticket sales. Over time, he has also widened his portfolio, becoming a prolific conductor and powerful administrator as the general director of two major American companies, first at Washington Opera and later at LA Opera, where he became the artistic director in 2000 and then general director in 2003.
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 Wednesday.
He noted that an independent investigation that LA Opera launched into Domingo’s alleged misconduct would “continue until its resolution.”
LA Opera had removed Domingo from day-to-day operations as general director after the allegations were published. It has not given a timeframe for the investigation, which is being led by Debra Wong Yang, a former U.S. attorney and Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, now a partner at the law firm of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.
“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.
The LA Opera Board of Directors thanked Domingo for his contributions to the art form in a separate statement Wednesday, which did not mention the allegations or the ongoing investigation into his alleged behavior.
“Placido Domingo’s contributions to the cultural life of Los Angeles have been unprecedented and profound,” the statement said. “We thank Placido for popularizing opera in the consciousness of Los Angeles and are deeply grateful for his inspiration and dedication to our institution and our community.”
Domingo is also being investigated by the American Guild of Musical Artists, the union representing many opera employees, which told AP earlier it hopes to conclude its investigation in about two months.
For at least the rest of the year, Domingo’s career will be centered in Europe, where the accusations of harassment have not hurt him professionally. He was greeted with ovations at concerts in August in Austria, shortly after the accusations emerged.
None of Domingo’s upcoming performances in Europe have been canceled; he has a busy fall lineup of operas and concerts in Switzerland, Russia, Austria, Germany, Spain, Italy and Poland.