Opera superstar Plácido Domingo has withdrawn from the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Verdi’s Macbeth. Domingo, who pulled out of his starring role in the opera following the final dress rehearsal, has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, including nine in an initial report by the Associated Press in August and 11 more in another report in September. Mezzo soprano Patricia Wulf and soprano Angela Turner were identified as two of the accusers, while the others were anonymous. “The allegations from these unnamed individuals dating back as many as thirty years are deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate,” Domingo said when the first reports emerged.
Domingo’s sudden withdrawal came in the midst of mounting pressure on the company’s General Manager Peter Gelb to follow in the footsteps of Dallas and San Francisco Opera and The Philadelphia Orchestra, who cancelled upcoming performances with Domingo. Until very recently Gelb had stood by Domingo, with the Met waiting on the result of an investigation by LA Opera, telling staff – according to a report by NPR – that he believed the AP’s reporting lacked “corroboration”.
Protests were reportedly planned for Domingo’s performances at the Met, and New York Senator Brad Hoylman weighed in, Tweeting, “Placido Domingo should be removed from the show – and if he isn’t, the director of the Met should be removed too.”
The announcement of Domingo’s withdrawal soon followed. “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,” the singer said in a statement. “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 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,” he said.
“The Metropolitan Opera confirms that Plácido Domingo has agreed to withdraw from all future performances at the Met, effective immediately,” the Met said in a statement. “The Met and Mr. Domingo are in agreement that he needed to step down.”
The Met has been under increasing scrutiny over its handling of sexual harassment, having fired director John Copley earlier this year over “inappropriate behaviour in the rehearsal room” and recently reaching a settlement in a legal dispute with former music director James Levine, who was fired after multiple accusations of sexual abuse were made public.
Elsewhere in the opera world, London’s Royal Opera House has suspended tenor Vittorio Grigolo, on tour for the company in Japan. “Following an alleged incident on September 18 involving Vittorio Grigolo, the Royal Opera House opened an immediate investigation and Mr Grigolo was suspended,” the company said in a statement. “We are unable to comment further on this matter whilst the investigation is ongoing.”
According to the UK’s The Sun, Grigolo – who is due to sing Alfredo Germont in the Met’s La Traviata next year – was accused of grabbing a female chorus member during the curtain call of a performance of Gounod’s Faust, in view of performers and audience. Russian tenor Georgy Vasiliev stepped in for the final performance on the tour.