Placido Domingo exits LA Opera amid sexual harassment investigation
Opera star Placido Domingo resigned as general director of LA Opera in California shortly after stepping away from the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
“Plácido Domingo’s contributions to the cultural life of Los Angeles have been unprecedented and profound. He is not only an outstandingly talented artist, but also the driving force behind the creation, development and growth of LA Opera,” the executive committee of the LA Opera board of directors said in a statement to ABC News. “Under his leadership, LA Opera became known for its spirit of collaborative creativity and its ability to attract superb performers from across the globe.”
Domingo delivered more than 300 performances in 31 roles, and conducted more than 100 times, over the past five decades in Southern California, according to the statement.
“We thank Plácido for popularizing opera in the consciousness of Los Angeles and are deeply grateful for his inspiration and dedication to our institution and our community,” the statement concluded.
“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,” Domingo said in a statement. “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.”
“While I will continue to work to clear my name,” he continued, “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.”
Domingo had served as general director for LA Opera since 2003 and was described as “a major force” at the company, according to its website. He was scheduled to perform this season in Donizetti’s “Roberto Devereux,” in February and March.
LA Opera had launched an independent investigation into Domingo in mid-August, following the publication of multiple allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior by The Associated Press. The AP published a new round of allegations in early September.
Domingo called these allegations “deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate,” adding that he “believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual” in a statement to the AP in August. In September, in a statement provided by a spokesperon, he called the second AP story an “ongoing campaign by the AP to denigrate Placido Domingo” that was “not only inaccurate but unethical.”
The LA Opera’s investigation, which is being conducted by the firm Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, will continue, LA Opera president and CEO Christopher Koelsch said in a letter to employees Wednesday.
I want to reiterate that the leadership of LA Opera knows we must take further steps to guarantee we are doing everything we can to foster a professional and collaborative environment.
“Both the board and the senior staff believe strongly that it is important for that investigation to continue until its resolution — and it will do so,” he said. “In the meantime, I want to reiterate that the leadership of LA Opera knows we must take further steps to guarantee we are doing everything we can to foster a professional and collaborative environment. It is imperative that we make sure all employees and artists feel heard, valued and respected, because you are.”
Koelsch thanked Domingo in the letter “for his integral role in the creation of our company and his decades of service.” But he also acknowledged that it “has been a painful and challenging period for all of us, but it has also engendering difficult, and productive, conversations that I believe will ultimately prove critical in strengthening and improving the company.”
The American Guild of Musical Artists also launched its own wide-ranging independent investigation of the allegations. AGMA hosted a forum on harassment and intimidation in Los Angeles in September after “AGMA members at the Los Angeles Opera … asked us to provide information and resources regarding anti-harassment and discrimination,” AGMA National Executive Director Len Egert told ABC News.
AGMA confirmed to ABC that its investigation will also still continue despite Domingo’s resignation.
“Our internal investigation has never been just about allegations against one individual,” Egert said. “AGMA is committed to confronting systemic problems in our industries which can cause our members to suffer unlawful discrimination and harassment at work, and to protecting the health and safety of our members in all of AGMA’s signatory companies. We owe it to our members to continue our investigation.”
Domingo announced on Sept. 24 he was withdrawing from performances at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, one day before he was set to make his premiere in Verdi’s “Macbeth.” He indicated in his statement at the time that he would not be returning to perform at the Met.