Report: Placido Domingo denies alleged casting power abuse

MILAN (AP) — Opera legend Placido Domingo was quoted by a leading Italian daily Monday as saying he did not abuse his power in casting, part of allegations against him in two reports by The Associated Press.

Domingo, 78, told Milanese daily Corriere della Sera that while he was general director in Washington and Los Angeles, casting decisions were made by “a team of four or five people.”

That meant “no one could take arbitrary decisions,” he said in an interview.

The AP reported last summer allegations by more than 20 women of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior. Some claimed that rejecting his advances had hurt their careers.

Corriere interviewed the Spanish singer before a performance in Germany last week, looking ahead to a 50th anniversary concert Dec. 15 at Milan’s La Scala.

Domingo, who gave a similar interview to a Spanish outlet last week, said that the reports “in which I was heavily accused of sexual molestation and abuse of power” hit like “lightning.”

The first AP report was published in August, just after a successful concert marking his 50th year at the outdoor Arena amphitheater in Verona. The second was published in September.

“In a moment, the news became global, enormous, and it didn’t let up. It is right, in that I am a public person, that I should be under the spotlight of public opinion. But very offensive things were said about me as a human being,’’ Domingo said. “In just a few hours, without (my) being asked, my engagements in Philadelphia and San Francisco were canceled. In a few days, half a century of career was swept away, as if with a breath.”

Asked by the Italian newspaper if his reaction to the first report — noting that the rules and standards had changed from the past — amounted to a “partial admission of guilt,” Domingo did not directly deny the allegations.

He responded: “I am convinced that every form of sexual molestation and offensive behavior toward anyone should be condemned in any place, in any historic period.”

While most of his U.S. dates were canceled in the wake of the reports and an investigation is under way at the Los Angeles Opera, European venues have supported Domingo. Every performance has been confirmed and some opera managers, notably at the Salzburg Festival and the Vienna State Opera, countered the reports by saying that the opera star had always behaved well in their venues.

He has performed to a supportive public and long applause in Salzburg, Szeged, Hungary, Moscow, Vienna, Hamburg and starting Monday in Valencia, Spain.

Placido told Corriere that he was now starting to resume his daily life, after a period during which he spent “many hours closed in the house,” taking solace in music and the support of his family.

“Now slowly-slowly, I am returning to my daily life, to my work, and among friends and colleagues, I feel serene,’’ he told Corriere.

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