LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Opera superstar Placido Domingo has withdrawn from the Metropolitan Opera's production of Verdi's “Macbeth” on the eve of opening night and indicated he would not return to the Met -- the most dramatic reaction to date to allegations that he sexually harassed multiple women over several years, retaliating against those who rebuffed him.
Domingo's withdrawal Tuesday came as a growing number of people who work at the Met expressed concern about his upcoming performances, The New York Times reported.
Other American cultural institutions, including the Philadelphia Orchestra and San Francisco Opera, had already canceled Domingo's upcoming appearances, citing the need to provide a safe workplace. The backstage unease at the Met boiled over in recent days, including at a heated, sometimes emotional meeting that Peter Gelb, the company's general manager, held with orchestra and chorus members after the “Macbeth” dress rehearsal on Saturday afternoon.
Some of those at the meeting questioned what Domingo's return said about the Met's commitment to protecting women and rooting out sexual harassment, according to the Times.
Three days later, Domingo said in a statement to The New York Times that he was dropping out of “Macbeth,” which was to have been his first U.S. performance since the sexual harassment allegations were reported last month.
“I made my debut at the Metropolitan Opera at the age of 27 and have sung at this magnificent theater for 51 consecutive, glorious years,” the 78- year-old Domingo 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 onstage 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.”
It sounded unlikely that he would ever be back to perform with the company, the Times reported.
“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. “I am grateful to God and the public for what they have allowed me to accomplish here at the Metropolitan Opera.”
The Met issued a statement that seemed to suggest the company had asked him to go.
“The Metropolitan Opera confirms that Plaido Domingo has agreed to withdraw from all future performances at the Met, effective immediately,” the statement said. “The Met and Mr. Domingo are in agreement that he needed to step down.”
The Met had said it would await the results of an investigation by Los Angeles Opera “before making any final decisions about Mr. Domingo's ultimate future at the Met.” But things at the Met came to a head on Saturday afternoon, after Domingo appeared at the final dress rehearsal of “Macbeth.”
The accusations against Domingo were first reported in August by The Associated Press, which wrote that he had pressured women into sexual relationships, and sometimes professionally punished those who had rebuffed him. In addition to being a star singer, Domingo has held leadership positions at Washington National Opera and Los Angeles Opera, the companies where many of the accusers met Domingo.
The initial AP report cited nine women, all but one of whom had been granted anonymity; a subsequent report cited 11 more women, one of whom was named.
The Domingo case roiled the Met, which is still recovering from the firing of its former music director, James Levine, last year amid accusations of sexual misconduct.