Opera legend Placido Domingo accused of serial sexual harassment

Opera singer Placido Domingo speaks during an event at the Manhattan School of Music in New York

Just hours after reports emerged that legendary opera singer Placido Domingo had pressured at least nine women for sexual favors by dangling prospects of work as reward, the Philadelphia Orchestra withdrew its invitation for the vocalist to appear with music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin in the season's gala opening concert September 18.

One of them said he stuck his hand down her skirt, and three more said he forced kisses on them at business lunches, dressing rooms and hotel rooms.

And nearly three dozen more people in the opera world said they witnessed inappropriate sexually-tinged behaviour by Domingo and that he pursued younger women with impunity.

"Still, it is painful to hear that I may have upset anyone or made them feel uncomfortable no matter how long ago and despite my best intentions", continued Domingo.

Domingo called the allegations "deeply troubling and, as presented inaccurate", adding "I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual". "[I] will hold myself to the highest standards".

Of the nine accusers, seven stated that they felt that by rejecting Domingo and his behavior, they feared retribution or negative impacts to their careers.

The AP spoke with "almost three dozen" other people from the world of opera, who confirmed that "they witnessed inappropriate sexually tinged behavior by Domingo and that he pursued younger women with impunity".

The accusers who spoke to the AP - all but one of whom requested anonymity - said they had feared speaking out previously would kill their careers due to his huge standing. She said that he undressed her, undressed himself, and that they had a session of "heavy petting" and "groping".

Domingo served as artistic director for the Washington Opera from 1996-2003 and as the company's general director from 2003 to 2011, during which time its name was changed to Washington National Opera.

Domingo, 78, was accused by eight singers and one dancer of misconduct that seemingly began as far back as the 1980's and has included unwanted kissing, touching and fondling, often with the promise of opera work or connections as a result. Two of the women say that they succumbed to his advances, "feeling that they couldn't risk jeopardizing their careers by saying no to the most powerful man in their profession".

"He would come up to me very close to my face and very clearly say, 'Patricia, do you have to go home tonight, '" Wulf said.

A dancer who worked with the superstar in several cities said a flirtatious Domingo called her late at night on and off for about a decade in the 1990s, leaving brazen messages she would listen to in shock with her husband. "I want him to have the opportunity to know exactly the kind of damage-emotional, psychological, professional, and otherwise-that he's responsible for".

Nearly all of the women's accounts followed a similar pattern that saw the singer, married since 1962, begin their working relationship by telling them he wanted to help advance their careers thanks to his impressive network of connections.

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