Placido Domingo absent for Mexico music prize amid scandal

Placido Domingo has been accused by 20 women of sexual harassment in incidents going back to at least the 1980s. (AFP)
Updated 06 October 2019

Placido Domingo absent for Mexico music prize amid scandal

  • The opera superstar has been accused by 20 women of forcibly kissing, grabbing or fondling them
  • Placido Domingo resigned Wednesday as general director of the Los Angeles Opera

MEXICO CITY: Placido Domingo was honored Saturday with Mexico’s Batuta prize but the Spanish tenor was absent from the ceremony amid a floor of sexual harassment accusations.
The opera superstar has been accused by 20 women of forcibly kissing, grabbing or fondling them, in incidents going back to at least the 1980s.
He was chosen in May to receive the first edition of the prize along with 15 other honorees, but two days before the award ceremony, organizers said they had decided to withhold the award until the scandal was “clarified.”
They reversed course on Friday but announced Domingo would not appear in person, instead addressing the gala in a recorded video.
“I am very sorry I cannot be present with you tonight, but I send this greeting with all my love, and I thank the organizing committee,” said Domingo, in which he did not refer to the allegations against him.
The award comes after Domingo, 78, resigned Wednesday as general director of the Los Angeles Opera, effectively ending his career in the United States.
He also withdrew last week from all performances at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Several other US opera houses have canceled concerts featuring him because of the sexual harassment allegations.
The “King of Opera” has responded that “all my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual.”
Highlighting international fault lines in the #MeToo scandal, Domingo’s career has continued to thrive in Europe even as it is imperiled in the United States.
He performed to a chorus of bravos this summer in Austria and Hungary, and has upcoming concerts in Zurich and Moscow.
In his video message, Domingo said he hoped to travel to Mexico soon and perform a concert to celebrate six decades since his debut at the capital’s Palacio de Bellas Artes.
The Batuta, which organizers hope to make an annual prize, will be awarded to 16 honorees including British composer Michael Nyman, Mexican soprano Maria Luisa Tamez and Mexican conductor Enrique Batiz, who is himself facing sexual assault allegations.


Disney tops earnings estimates ahead of streaming launch

Updated 10 November 2019

Disney tops earnings estimates ahead of streaming launch

  • Revenues in the past quarter were boosted by a 52 percent rise in Disney’s studio operation
  • Disney has become the biggest Hollywood player with the acquisition of studio and TV assets from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox
SAN FRANCISCO: Walt Disney on Thursday reported better-than-expected quarterly results, fueled by the release of blockbuster films “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” as it prepared for its new streaming television service.
Disney profit in the recently ended quarter was $1.05 billion, down from $2.3 billion a year ago, on revenue that grew 34 percent to $19.1 billion.
The slump in profits came as Disney absorbed key film and television operations of 21st Century Fox and geared up for its launch of the streaming service Disney+ that aims to compete globally against Netflix and others.
“We’ve spent the last few years completely transforming The Walt Disney Company to focus the resources and immense creativity across the entire company on delivering an extraordinary direct-to-consumer experience,” said Disney chief executive Robert Iger.
“We’re excited for the launch of Disney+ on November 12.”
Iger said the company reached a deal for the service to be on Amazon’s Fire TV platform, the latest distribution agreement for Disney+.
Disney shares were up more than five percent in after-market trading following release of the earnings figures.
Revenues in the past quarter were boosted by a 52 percent rise in Disney’s studio operations with box office hits “The Lion King,” “Toy Story 4” and “Aladdin” fueling gains.
The entertainment giant expects revenue in the current quarter to be boosted by the forthcoming release of a sequel to “Frozen” and the final installment of the “Star Wars” film saga.
It will thereafter take a “hiatus” from “Star Wars” box office films but has an array of spin-off shows planned exclusively for its streaming service.
Disney has become the biggest Hollywood player with the acquisition of studio and TV assets from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.
However, integrating Fox into Disney has cost more than expected and the newly added studios have brought in less money than hoped.
Disney saw smaller revenue gains in its cable and broadcasting operations as well as its theme park division.
Iger would not disclose details of pre-sales of Disney+ subscriptions, but said the price — $6.99 monthly — has met with “great enthusiasm” by consumers.
The Disney+ online streaming service will debut in the United States, Canada and the Netherlands before gradually expanding internationally in Europe then rolling out worldwide.
Its films and TV shows will be available, along with the library it acquired from 21st Century Fox. That includes the “Star Wars” and Marvel superhero franchises and ABC television content.
Disney+ will also combine offerings from powerhouse brands including Pixar, with content from Hulu and sports network ESPN.
Apple last week launched a streaming television service that features a budding library of original shows starring big-name celebrities, aimed at winning over its gadget lovers at home and on the go.
The Apple TV+ on-demand streaming service launched in more than 100 countries at $4.99 per month.
Original Apple TV+ shows have so far been met with lukewarm early reviews, but the low subscription price and an offer of year-long memberships free with purchase of the company’s devices was expected to encourage viewers to tune in.
Netflix, meanwhile, has budgeted $15 billion this year for original shows, on top of the billions it has devoted to exclusive productions in recent years.
Amazon, which has deep pockets thanks to its e-commerce and cloud services, has also poured cash into original shows for its Prime Video service.
This sets up a potential spending war among the major streaming players, according to analysts.
Even more competition looms on the horizon, with AT&T’s Warner Media to launch its “HBO Max” in early 2020 after reclaiming the rights from Netflix to stream its popular television comedy “Friends.”
NBCUniversal’s Peacock service is also launching next year.