Opera star Placido Domingo honored in Spain, fans back despite sexual harassment allegations, Arts News & Top Stories
MADRID (REUTERS) – Spanish opera star Placido Domingo received an award at the Teatro Real in Madrid on Thursday (June 10), a day after receiving a standing ovation for his first performance in his home country since a union said he regularly harassed women.
Spain last year canceled performances it had planned at publicly funded theaters, as it pulled out of the shows after an investigation by the American Guild of Musical Artists found that ‘he behaved inappropriately with the female performers.
More than three dozen singers, dancers, musicians, vocal teachers and backstage staff have said they have witnessed or experienced inappropriate behavior over the past three decades.
American institutions, including the Metropolitan Opera of New York and the Opera of San Francisco, ended their planned engagements with him and he resigned as general manager of the Los Angeles Opera.
Domingo, 80, has apologized for making his colleagues uncomfortable, but denies behaving aggressively or acting to hinder an artist’s career.
A representative said the singer “has never been investigated or brought to trial by a court or other institutional investigative body on any charges.”
His return to Madrid on Wednesday for a charity concert to benefit the Red Cross drew huge crowds, including regional leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso, who said it was a “source of pride” to find him in Spain.
Arriving at the ceremony, in which he was awarded the title of Honorary World Heritage Ambassador to Spain, Domingo spoke of the pride he felt to be back and the thrill of the show the day before.
“I feel great emotion, this is my city, the big city of Madrid. After singing last night … it was such a special night that I feel I have all the strength.”
Fans outside of the concert have defended his legacy.
“We love him and we follow him almost everywhere. We love him as a person, as an artist, as a singer,” said a German fan named Wilda.
Equality Minister Irene Montero, a leading figure in the feminist movement in Spain, criticized those who applauded the singer.
“I would like them to wonder what message they are sending to these women and those who are sexually assaulted every day in our country,” she tweeted.
Neither the Red Cross nor the Association for the Dissemination and Promotion of Spanish World Heritage, which organized the award ceremony, could be contacted for comment.
According to his website, he is expected to sing or conduct in France, Germany, Italy and Russia this year, but no American venues are listed.