LA Opera declines details on Placido Domingo investigation

Placido Domingo’s behavior was reportedly an open secret in the industry and that he pursued younger women with impunity. (AFP)
Updated 17 August 2019

LA Opera declines details on Placido Domingo investigation

  • LA Opera announced it would engage outside counsel to investigate the ‘concerning allegations’
  • The American Guild of Musical Artists issued a statement calling for wider investigations across the opera world

SAN FRANCISCO: The Los Angeles Opera has declined to release any details of its promised investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against opera legend Placido Domingo, the company’s longtime general director, including whether it has already started.
The union that represents opera singers said Friday that it plans a meeting in Los Angeles next week to address its members’ concerns ahead of the LA company’s season opener Sept. 14.
Len Egert, the executive director of the American Guild of Musical Artists, told The Associated Press that the union has been receiving its own reports from members since an AP story earlier this week detailing accusations against the 78-year-old singing star.
Hours after the AP story was released Tuesday detailing the allegations, the LA Opera announced it would engage outside counsel to investigate the “concerning allegations.”
Three of the nine women who accused the singer of harassment and abuse of power described encounters they said took place while working with Domingo at the LA organization. The nine women and dozens of others interviewed said Domingo’s behavior was an open secret in the industry and that he pursued younger women with impunity.
On Friday, LA Opera would not disclose who would be conducting the investigation, how it would be carried out, when it would start or its expected duration.
A spokeswoman for the company said Friday LA Opera will share details when they have information and that there was currently nothing to add beyond the statement released Tuesday.
Domingo is widely credited with raising the profile of LA Opera, where he served as an artistic consultant from 1984 to 2000, artistic director from 2000 to 2003 and, finally, general director from 2003 until now. His current contract runs through the 2021-22 season.
In its initial statement, LA Opera said Domingo “has been a dynamic creative force in the life of LA Opera” but that it is committed to ensuring that its employees and artists “be treated respectfully and feel safe and secure.”
Domingo did not respond to detailed questions from the AP about specific incidents. But he issued a statement calling the allegations “deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate,” adding “I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual.”
The allegations in the AP story sparked a global discussion among opera singers on social media forums about the culture of sexual misconduct in the classical music world and the belief that opera companies have long been aware of bad behavior and tolerated it, particularly when the accused are people in positions of power.
Aside from LA Opera, the other women quoted in the story recounted incidents they said took place at other venues, including Washington Opera and the Metropolitan Opera in New York, ranging from 1988 into the mid-2000s.
Some of the women told the AP that Domingo used his power at the LA company and elsewhere to try to pressure them into sexual relationships, with several saying that he dangled jobs and then sometimes punished them professionally if they refused his advances.
The Philadelphia Orchestra and San Francisco Opera announced they would cancel upcoming performances featuring the star. The Metropolitan Opera said it would await the results of LA Opera’s investigation “before making any final decisions about Mr. Domingo’s future at the Met,” where he is scheduled to appear next month.
The American Guild of Musical Artists issued a statement calling for wider investigations across the opera world.
“AGMA became aware of serious allegations of sexual harassment made by multiple women against Placido Domingo. We have contacted our employers to demand investigations into these allegations,” said the statement issued earlier this week.
Since then, “through our confidential reporting system we have been receiving reports from members,” Egert said Friday. “We are providing timely, confidential advice and guidance to these artists.” He did not elaborate.
Egert said that AGMA will be “closely monitoring the internal LA Opera investigation” and has scheduled a membership meeting in Los Angeles early next week, prior to the start of rehearsals, to address any member concerns on questions. The LA Opera 2019-2020 season starts Sept. 14 with “La Boheme.”
Asked if the union was aware of Domingo’s alleged behavior previously, he said, “AGMA did not receive complaints from its members prior to the recent news reports.”


A day in Elton John’s life: Buy Rolls, write hit song, dine with Ringo

Updated 19 October 2019

A day in Elton John’s life: Buy Rolls, write hit song, dine with Ringo

  • Diary entries helped jog Elton John’s memories from his 50-year career
  • ‘Even when I was doing a lot of drugs, I still carried on playing music’

LONDON: When Elton John was working on his new autobiography, the legendary singer, songwriter and performer pulled out diaries he had been encouraged to write during a stint in rehab.
One entry read like this: “Got up, tidied the house, bought a Rolls Royce, had dinner, wrote ‘Candle in the Wind,’ had dinner with Ringo Starr,” the musician said. “That was one day.”
John, 72, spoke in a video interview provided to Reuters by his publisher, Henry Holt & Co., to promote the release of his book, which is titled simply “Me.”
The diary entries helped jog John’s memories from his 50-year career filled with hit records, Grammy awards and royal friendships but also addiction and a suicide attempt two days before a show at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
“I wanted to show the tough ride of being a successful artist, and how I went through tough times, and how I came out at the end and got my life together,” John said. “It’s the story of my life up to the present day, warts and all.”
In the book, the “Crocodile Rock” singer revealed recent health scares including a near-fatal infection and a serious bout with appendicitis. “I did like 10 or 11 shows, 24 flights, with a burst appendix,” he said.
John is currently in the middle of a lengthy “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” world tour that will bring his touring career to an end. In the interview, he said performing on stage “just never gets old.”
“I never go on stage late,” he said. “I just love to get out there and I’m raring to go.”
“Even when I was doing a lot of drugs, I still carried on playing music,” he added. “It’s been my touchstone of my whole life.”
A highlight, John said, came in 1975 when John Lennon joined him to perform three songs at Madison Square Garden. It was Lennon’s first appearance on stage in New York since the Beatles played Shea Stadium.
Lennon was so nervous that he vomited before the performance, John said. “He came out to probably the most touching ovation I’ve ever heard,” John said. “We all shed a tear on stage.”
John said he is not sure what his future holds but he is still writing songs.
“I don’t know what’s next and I don’t want to know what’s next,” he said. “I’m just ready for the next chapter.”