Domingo quits Macbeth role in New York after harassment claims

New York’s Metropolitan Opera announced that Placido Domingo had agreed to withdraw from his scheduled performances at the opera house following allegations of sexual harassment made by multiple women.

Tenor Placido Domingo, right, and soprano Daniela Dessi performing Umberto Giordano's Andrea Chenier during a rehearsal for the Metropolitan Opera's Millennium Gala at New York's Lincoln Center. Picture: AP Photo/Richard Drew

The opera legend indicated that he would never again perform at the Met.

Mr Domingo had been scheduled to sing the title role in the season premiere of Giuseppe Verdi’s Macbeth last night, which would have been his first performance in the United States since reports that numerous women had accused him of inappropriate behaviour, including one soprano who said he grabbed her bare breast.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The Met had been under increasing pressure to cancel Mr Domingo’s appearances, but general manager Peter Gelb reiterated to performers after a dress rehearsal on Saturday that the opera house was awaiting results of investigations by the LA Opera, where Domingo has been general director since 2003, and the American Guild of Musical Artists, the union that represents various opera staff.

Mr Domingo, who had sung in rehearsals, issued a statement saying his Met career was over after 706 performances as a singer, plus 169 as a conductor.

“I made my debut at the Metropolitan Opera at the age of 27 and have sung at this magnificent theatre for 51 consecutive, glorious years,” Mr Domingo said.

“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 on stage and behind the scenes. As a result, I have asked to withdraw,” he added, “and I thank the leadership of the Met for graciously granting my request. I am happy that, at the age of 78, I was able to sing the wonderful title role in the dress rehearsal of Macbeth, which I consider my last performance on the Met stage.”

In its statement, the Met said the long-married Spanish-born superstar had “agreed to withdraw from all future performances at the Met, effective immediately.”

Mr Gelb sent an email to the Met staff saying: “We are grateful to him for recognising that he needed to step down.”

The Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Opera and Dallas Opera previously cancelled upcoming concerts starring Mr Domingo.

But his reception has been far different in Europe, where he received lengthy ovations after concert performances of Verdi’s Luisa Miller at the Salzburg Festival in Austria on 25 and 31 August, just weeks after the revelations.

Angela Turner Wilson, the singer who accused Mr Domingo of grabbing her breast, said she was “relieved” by the Met’s action, but criticized Mr Gelb for previously asserting that the opera house could not act without corroborated evidence and that all of Mr Domingo’s accusers were anonymous.

She called Mr Gelb’s remarks “a major concern to me and many others who wish to see the current culture of sexual harassment and retaliation removed from our industry. It is time.”

Another of Mr Domingo’s accusers, Patricia Wulf, also called the withdrawal a relief.