Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva has spoken out in defence of tenor Plácido Domingo, following allegations of sexual harassment detailed in an investigation by the Associated Press. Domingo has described the allegations, made by nine women, as “deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate.”
Plácido Domingo. Photo © Ralf Roletschek / roletschek.at
Yoncheva posted a photo of herself with the Domingo on Instagram, describing him as “a real gentleman, philanthropist, artist, charming and peaceful human being, who is devoted to the new generation of singers in the most humble and respectful way.”
“I know Plácido for nearly 10 years and it was, it is always a great pleasure to work with him,” she wrote. “You can rarely find today a person who respects more his job, his colleagues, the team of each theatre and his fans. An irreplaceable figure in our industry, he, more than anybody else, proved that a successful career depends only on your work and your talent, nothing else can help it or destroy it!”
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A real gentleman, philanthropist, artist, charming and peaceful human being, who is devoted to the new generation of singers in the most humble and respectful way. I know Placido for nearly 10 years and it was, it is always a great pleasure to work with him. You can rarely find today a person who respects more his job, his colleagues, the team of each theater and his fans. An irreplaceable figure in our industry, he, more than anybody else, proved that a successful career depends only on your work and your talent, nothing else can help it or destroy it! @placido_domingo #sonyayoncheva #standbydomingo
Yoncheva is the highest profile singer to come out in the 78-year-old tenor’s defence, with several Spanish singers, Ainhoa Arteta, Paloma San Basilio and Pilar Jurado, also speaking positively of their experiences with Domingo.
In the wake of the allegations, The Philadelphia Orchestra and San Francisco Opera announced they were cancelling upcoming performances by Domingo, while the Los Angeles Opera, where Domingo is General Director, announced it will engage “outside counsel to investigate concerning allegations about Plácido Domingo,” describing him as “a dynamic creative force in the life of LA Opera and the artistic culture of Los Angeles for more than three decades.”
Domingo is scheduled to perform in LA Opera’s Roberto Devereux next March.
The Metropolitan Opera, where Domingo will appear next month, is waiting on the results of the LA Opera investigation before making any final decision on the tenor’s future with the house.
The American Guild of Musical Artists also weighed in. “Today, AGMA became aware of serious allegations of sexual harassment made by multiple women against Plácido Domingo”, the AGMA said in a statement. “We have contacted our employers to demand investigations into these allegations Additionally, we have reached out to our members in opera companies that may have been affected to offer guidance and support. We will continue to closely monitor this situation, making the safety of our members our first priority.”
The Salzburg Festival, however, where Domingo is due to perform at the end of this month, has stood behind him. “I would find it factually wrong and morally irresponsible to make irreversible judgement at this point,” said Festival president Helga Rabl-Stadler.
As yet, it is only the two US organisations that have cancelled performances, with performances at European houses – including in Hungary, Switzerland, Russia, Austria, Germany, Spain, Italy and Poland – still scheduled to go ahead.
“As a public institution we neither tolerate nor trivialize sexual assaults, but we are also bound by the principles of the rule of law in our actions. Valid contracts with the concert promoter exist for the appearance of Plácido Domingo,” Hamburg Opera, where Domingo is due to perform in November, told the Associated Press in a statement. “Subject to further developments, the concert will therefore take place as planned.”
The Royal Opera House in London has also confirmed that planned performances of Don Carlo next year will go ahead with Domingo.
A number of commentators are noting the differences in responses across the Atlantic, but Dallas Opera in the US is, like the Met, taking a wait and see approach. “The Dallas Opera is committed to providing a safe, secure, and comfortable working environment for every employee, volunteer, musician, and visiting artist,” a spokesperson for the company, where Domingo is due to sing in March, told Operawire. “Regarding recent news reports: we take these allegations very seriously and will continue to watch developments closely.”