Domingo departs “Macbeth” and Met over harassment allegations

September 25, 2019
By George Grella

When Macbeth opens tonight at the Metropolitan Opera, it will be without star Plácido Domingo in the lead role. 

The tenor-turned-baritone, one of the leading figures in the opera world over the past half-century, announced his withdrawal from the production Tuesday afternoon, and said that he would no longer be performing at the Met at all.

In a statement to The New York Times Domingo said that, “While I strongly dispute recent allegations made about me, and I am concerned about a climate in which people are condemned without due process, upon reflection I believe that my appearance in this production of Macbeth would distract from the hard work of my colleagues both onstage and behind the scenes. As a result, I have asked to withdraw and I thank the leadership of the Met for graciously granting my request.”

The Met released its own terse statement, confirming that Domingo had stepped down and that he and the company were in agreement over that action.

His decision comes amid mounting displeasure with the singer, and within the company, after the Associated Press reported last month that eight opera singers and dancers (later joined by eleven more) had accused Domingo of using his position in the opera world, and the opportunities he could provide or deny, to pressure them into sexual relationships. 

In the immediate wake of that report, the opera union the American Guild of Musical Artists announced it would launch an investigation into the allegations, uncertain that the opera companies where the tenor sang and conducted—and the Los Angeles Opera, where he has been general director in 2003—would thoroughly look into the matter. (On Tuesday, the union told the Los Angeles Times that it would take two or three more months to finish their investigation.)

Domingo has consistently denied the allegations, telling NPR that the report was “deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate.” Nancy Seltzer, his spokesperson, called the report an “ongoing campaign to denigrate Plácido Domingo.” Anna Netrebko, singing Lady Macbeth in the production, voiced her immediate support for Domingo.

Still, Domingo was becoming increasingly persona non grata, with the Philadelphia Orchestra Association withdrawing a previous invitation to him for its opening night gala in September. The San Francisco Opera cancelling an October performance by Domingo, and the Dallas Opera did the same with a Domingo concert scheduled for March, 2020. (As of this morning, the LA Opera still lists Domingo at the site as the general director.)

Met general director Peter Gelb took a wait-and-see approach, wanting to know the results of the union and LA Opera reports before making a decision on Domingo’s status, and saying he did not feel the accusations had sufficient corroboration. This decision grew increasingly untenable within the house, which only last year fired conductor and previous artistic director James Levine after Levine was accused of a long-term pattern of sexual misconduct.

Last week, NPR reported on a meeting that Gelb held with Met chorus and orchestra, explaining why he preferred to wait and go on with Macbeth as scheduled. Met staffers and performers expressed their frustration and displeasure with that course, especially with Gelb leaving the decision to others. Employees were “furious” that the Met was continuing its association with Domingo, explaining that some women had changed their schedules to avoid encountering Domingo, and an orchestra member stating that “at least one” person had called in sick so as not to rehearse or perform Macbeth.

Željko Lučić, a baritone already scheduled to appear as Macbeth later in the run, opens in the role tonight opposite Netrebko. His name has already replaced Domingo’s at the Met’s site, where the tenor is nowhere to be found. The company said it would offer audience members the option to exchange their tickets.

One Response to “Domingo departs “Macbeth” and Met over harassment allegations”

  1. Posted Sep 25, 2019 at 10:02 pm by Graham wright

    Feel this is a lynching without due process to a great artist. Domingo actions did not take place in the last two years but years ago. It is the me too movement gone wild. The met wil suffer because of this action.. then you elect a president who brags he gropes women. Domingo is a true gentlman in comparison. Going back over the years what about Toscanini, Klemperer and carlos kleiber. O do not forget Puccini