On Tuesday afternoon, at 5:07 PM, Metropolitan Opera general manager Peter Gelb sent an email to staff that began this way:
“Dear Members of the Company,
Plácido Domingo has agreed to withdraw from all future performances at the Met, with immediate effect. We are grateful to him for recognizing that he needed to step down.”
The announcement came a day before Domingo, who has been dogged by sexual misconduct allegations, was to star in the opening of the Met’s production of Verdi’s Macbeth. It also followed reporting by NPR about discomfort on the part of Met employees at having to work with Domingo in the wake of those allegations.
The allegations against Domingo were first published in two reports by the Associated Press, the first on Aug. 13 and the second on Sept. 7. In all, 20 women have accused the opera superstar of inappropriate behavior ranging from groping to unwanted touching or kissing to late-night phone calls, among other behavior.
Two organizations have launched investigations into the alleged misconduct: LA Opera, where Domingo has been general director for more than 15 years, is conducting a probe. And the American Guild of Musical Artists [AGMA], the union which represents the chorus, dancers, choreographers and others at the Met, announced this month that it had retained counsel to conduct an investigation. The Met chose to wait for the results of those investigations but Domingo stepped down before they were concluded.
Tuesday’s announcement from Gelb came just a day after the Met sent a statement to NPR, that read “Peter Gelb held an open conversation with members of the Orchestra and Chorus as he has done with other groups within the Met over recent weeks…because there was currently no corroborated evidence against Mr. Domingo the Met believed that the fair and correct thing to do was to wait until the investigations by LA Opera and AGMA had taken place. He explained that if corroborated evidence is made public either through the investigations or other means, the Met would take prompt action.”
In its reporting, the AP said that it had corroborated the women’s allegations, speaking to nearly three dozen people who said that they witnessed “inappropriate sexually tinged behavior” by Domingo.
Gelb’s email to staff also included a statement from Domingo:
“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. 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 on stage 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. 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. I am grateful to God and the public for what they have allowed me to accomplish here at The Metropolitan Opera.”
Gelb’s email concluded with a reference to the latest allegations concerning another opera star:
“I also wanted to inform you that following an alleged incident of misconduct reported by the Royal Opera House concerning Vittorio Grigolo, we will be suspending him with immediate effect from all future performances at the Met, pending the outcome of the ROH investigation.”