Entertainment & Arts

Plácido Domingo leaves Los Angeles Opera amid sexual harassment inquiry

Plácido Domingo Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Spanish tenor denies all accusations against him

Plácido Domingo has resigned from the Los Angeles Opera - a company he helped found - amid allegations he sexually harassed multiple women.

The star also withdrew from all future performances there.

The announcement, which comes a week after he cancelled a season of shows at New York's Met Opera, signals the end of his US career, at least for now.

A total of 20 women have now accused Domingo of harassment and inappropriate behaviour. He denies all the claims.

The accusations, which go back as far as the 1980s, were first reported in August by the Associated Press.

It said Domingo had frequently pressured women into sexual relationships, and sometimes professionally punished those who rejected him.

Among the accusers was singer Angela Turner Wilson, who said the star reached under her clothes and grabbed her bare breast while they were preparing for a performance at the Washington Opera in 1999.

"It hurt," Wilson told the AP. "Then I had to go on stage and act like I was in love with him."

Domingo responded by saying he believed their interaction had been consensual; while called the other allegations, "deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate".

Several companies, including the Philadelphia Orchestra and San Francisco Opera, subsequently cancelled Domingo's appearances, citing the need to provide safe workplaces for their employees.

'Heavy heart'

The Los Angeles Opera, where Domingo had been general manager since 2003, also launched an internal inquiry into the accusations. The investigation will continue despite the star's resignation, staff were told on Wednesday.

"We must take further steps to guarantee we are doing everything we can to foster a professional and collaborative environment," wrote the company's president and chief executive, Christopher Koelsch, in an email.

In his own statement, Domingo said he was leaving the institution "with a heavy heart".

"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," he wrote.

"While I will continue to work to clear my name, I have decided that it is in the best interests of LA Opera for me to resign as its general director and withdraw from my future scheduled performances at this time."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption He achieved global fame with the Three Tenors (L-R: Plácido Domingo, Jose Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti)

One of opera's most beloved figures, Domingo's career stretches back to 1959, when he took the small role of Borsa in Verdi's Rigoletto with the National Opera in Mexico City.

From there, he made his way into Opera houses in North America and Europe where, at the Hamburg State Opera, he gave the first performance of what was to become his signature role: Otello.

Over the years, he made hundreds of recordings and, perhaps most famously, became one of the Three Tenors alongside Luciano Pavarotti and José Carreras.

In later years, he branched into singing lower baritone roles, while working as a conductor and taking several backstage administrative roles.

While the future of his US career is now in doubt, the 78-year-old's calendar still lists performances in Switzerland, Austria, Russia and Germany, amongst others.

Several European concert organisers have said they will wait to see what the Los Angeles Opera's inquiry determines before making a decision on future engagements.

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