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Opera's Domingo denies abusing power, seeks to clear name


NAPLES, Italy — Opera legend Plácido Domingo denied ever abusing his power during his management tenure at two U.S. opera houses in an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, as he embarks on a full-throttle campaign to clear his name after two investigations found credible accusations he had engaged in ‘’inappropriate conduct’’ with multiple women over a period of decades.

Domingo deflected direct questions about whether he ever sexually harassed women, accusations that were first reported by the AP last summer. The allegations have crippled his career in the United States, as well as his native Spain.

‘’I never promised a part to a singer, or never take a part from a singer," he said. “I have spent my whole life helping, and you know, encouraging and driving people.”’ He added that responsibilities within opera companies are divided, meaning he never had sole sway over casting decisions.

Multiple performers told the AP that Domingo harassed them and abused his power while he held management positions at Los Angeles Opera and Washington National Opera. Numerous women said Domingo had dangled career opportunities as he pursued sexual relationships with them and then withdrew the offers or stopped hiring them when they rejected his advances.

Investigations by LA Opera and the American Guild of Musical Artists found the sexual harassment allegations to be credible. LA Opera did not find he had abused his power, but AGMA found a clear pattern of such abuse, according to people who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the findings.

Domingo focused almost solely on the abuse of power allegations during a wide-ranging interview in the library of his Naples hotel. The singer has emerged from a bout with coronavirus that put him in the hospital for 10 days with a mission to rehabilitate his opera career as he approaches his 80th birthday.

He said that he hopes he can smooth out what he sees as a misunderstanding with Spanish officials and one day return to singing in the country where his parents once ran the Zarzuela light opera house in Madrid.

Domingo said he sees his return to stages in the U.S. as less likely.

“It’s very sad for me not to be able to sing ... in the United States. I enjoy it so much,’’ Domingo said. “For over a half-century ... the public has been really, really extraordinary."

Domingo has a full singing and conducting schedule for the fall, mostly concentrated in Italy, Germany and Austria, that started with a Saturday concert in nearby Caserta, where he demonstrated that his voice had not been harmed by the virus.

Colleen Barry, The Associated Press