Opera singer Placido Domingo today denied “deeply troubling” accusations of sexually harassing nine women in alleged encounters dating back three decades.
The 78-year-old Spanish star, one of the legendary Three Tenors and director of the Los Angeles Opera, tried to pressure women into sexual relationships with job offers, according to the claims published today.
The first allegations date to the late 1980s, and his accusers are said to include eight singers and a dancer.
One woman reportedly said Domingo stuck his hand down her skirt, while three others said he forced wet kisses on their lips – in a dressing room, a hotel room and at a lunch meeting.
In a statement, Domingo denied having any nonconsensual relationships and described the abuse allegations “from these unnamed individuals dating back as many as 30 years” as “deeply troubling” and “inaccurate.”
He added: “Still, it is painful to hear that I may have upset anyone or made them feel uncomfortable — no matter how long ago and despite my best intentions.”
Some of the alleged abuses are said to have happened at opera companies where he held managerial positions.
The star, considered one of the greatest opera singers of all time, has been married to his second wife, Marta, since 1962. The first Three Tenors recording he made with Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras became the best-selling classical album in history.
Seven of the nine accusers reportedly said they felt their careers were harmed after they rejected the opera star’s advances, with some saying that roles he promised never materialised.
“A business lunch is not strange,” one of the singers told AP. “Somebody trying to hold your hand during a business lunch is strange — or putting their hand on your knee is a little strange. He was always touching you in some way, and always kissing you.” Only one of the women, mezzo-soprano Patricia Wulf, who sang with Domingo at the Washington Opera in The Magic Flute and Fedora in 1998, agreed for her name to be made public.
“Every time I would walk off stage, he would be in the wings waiting for me,” said Ms Wulf, now 61. “He would come right up to me, as close as could be, put his face right in my face, lower his voice and say, ‘Patricia, do you have to go home tonight?’”
Ms Wulf said Domingo did not physically touch her but believes there was no mistaking his intentions: “Absolutely and most certainly, that was sexual harassment. It affected the way I dealt with men for the rest of my operatic career and the rest of my life.”
Another accuser said she was singing in the Los Angeles Opera chorus in the 1980s when she was selected to kiss Domingo while rehearsing a scene.
After the kiss, she claimed he whispered in her ear: “I wish we weren’t on stage.”
Another singer said that Domingo kissed her on the cheek and put a hand on the side of her breast in her dressing room at the LA Opera in 1998.
“I was totally intimidated and felt like saying no to him would be saying no to God. How do you say no to God?” she said.
In his statement, Domingo added: “I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual. People who know me or who have worked with me know that I am not someone who would intentionally harm, offend, or embarrass anyone.
“However, I recognise that the rules and standards by which we are — and should be — measured against today are very different than they were in the past.”