San Francisco Opera Cancels Domingo Concert

Michael Zwiebach on August 13, 2019
Plácido Domingo in concert with the S.F. Opera Orchestra | Credit: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

The San Francisco Opera announced this afternoon that they would be canceling the highly anticipated concert by Placido Domingo on Oct. 6, 2019. The decision came in the wake of a detailed report by Jocelyn Gecker of the Associated Press investigating serious sexual harassment allegations by eight singers and one dancer who worked with or for Domingo over a period of roughly 30 years. In a statement issued to AP, Domingo denied the abuse, saying, in part, “The allegations from these unnamed individuals dating back as many as thirty years are deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate.”

As a result of this report, the Philadelphia Orchestra canceled an opening night gala performance with Domingo that had been scheduled for Sept. The decision by the San Francisco Opera will likewise have serious short-term financial consequences for the company, since the concert, to celebrate 50 years of collaboration, was already sold out. The SF Opera statement mentioned that none of the alleged incidents of abuse had happened with the company, but that “San Francisco Opera is committed to its strong anti-sexual harassment policy and requires all Company members to adhere to the highest standards of professional conduct. San Francisco Opera places a great priority on creating a safe and secure environment where everyone can focus on their work and art, and in which colleagues are treated with respect, dignity and collegiality.”

For Los Angeles Opera, the problem is deeper than canceling a single appearance, since Domingo has been the company’s general director since 1998 and has been one of its most important assets throughout its history. On Tuesday, LA Opera said it would hire outside counsel to investigate the alleged incidents at the company.

As in other #MeToo reports, the singer/ administrator’s untouchable position made it difficult to air complaints or even escape unwanted advances. Most troubling is the number of people who reported that the harassment detailed in Gecker’s article was an open secret: AP found six women who reported being made uncomfortable by Domingo and “The AP also spoke to almost three dozen other singers, dancers, orchestra musicians, members of backstage staff, voice teachers and an administrator who said they witnessed inappropriate sexually tinged behavior by Domingo and that he pursued younger women with impunity.” Several singers said they were warned about Domingo by colleagues.

And there is, as yet, no physical evidence, in the form of written notes or emails, or phone messages, and, as in other #MeToo cases, none may ever turn up.

SF Opera patrons with tickets to the Domingo concert may return them for a refund, exchange them, or donate them.