Posted by: operatheaterink | March 11, 2020

Commentary: LA Opera Came Up with Nothing, March 11, 2020

LA Opera Came Up with Nothing. Yet the Press Makes it Look Like They Did.

By Carol Jean Delmar
Opera Theater Ink

Plácido Domingo is a Winner! Yet you’d never know it if you read the newspapers.

Los Angeles Opera came up with nothing to warrant his resignation, and nothing to warrant any company to cancel his performances. The LA Opera investigation report was released Tuesday, March 10 — with nothing in it.

The report said that basically 44 women had been interviewed and that 10 of the stories were “credible” based on the fact that they were all similar in nature. I somehow do not believe that makes the stories “credible,” but what do I know.

The report said that no accusers said that Domingo had ever used his position to make advances toward them. Whatever they thought was their own business.

The report said that Domingo had been sincere with the women and even a bit unknowing or “unaware” about what was implied by their responses.

The report said that most of the women would remain anonymous to be protected and that much of the information would remain private as well.

The Los Angeles Times and New York Times wrote stories stating that the one woman that accused him of making advances at Washington National Opera, singer Angela Turner Wilson, had accused him of something that took place 20 years ago, but the makeup artist in the room couldn’t recall the event.

And finally, the investigation, carried out by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Debra Wong Yang, recommended that LA Opera improve its policies regarding sexual harassment. Apparently women have not communicated much dismay to the management of the company, and the procedures were found to be lacking.

With all of these parts listed, I believe that Plácido Domingo has been exonerated. He was treated as guilty until proven innocent rather than the other way around.

Domingo is a warm good-hearted human being. Whether or not he flirted with women or wanted their company after performances hardly warrants that opera companies ban him from his art.

Domingo has worked very hard to remain at the top of his game in the opera world. He has sung more roles than any other tenor. His technique is perfection or he could not still be singing at the age of 79. He has worked to further his art and has mentored countless singers. He is a conductor and administrator. He did not deserve what he received from these companies that canceled or pushed him out with their doubts.

He is owed major apologies from those in the opera world, and he is owed a return to the companies that had their doubts. He is owed his life and career back.

Domingo has proven that the #MeToo movement has gone too far. Just because women “can” doesn’t mean that they “should.” Each case is different, but Domingo shows that he was prosecuted without due process.

Peter Gelb should be held accountable for his actions. The Metropolitan Opera is the biggest company in the United States, and Gelb caved in to pressure, not only from employees, but from a senator who threatened him with his job. Frankly, now I believe that Gelb’s job should be in jeopardy due to his lack of faith in the one man who had shown his artistry to the Met for so many years.

Domingo was at the Met years before Gelb was at the helm. Whether or not Domingo ever sings at the Met or in the United States again for that matter, he deserves a big celebration of gratitude for his years at the Metropolitan Opera. And the celebration should be initiated by Peter Gelb and should be at the Met.

All of those who plagued Domingo now have egg on their faces. I do not know if there is any way to right the horrible wrong that was imposed upon Domingo, but every company and every board member of every company, and every employee of every company should try to apologize for this horrible wrongdoing and injustice to a great artist.

I believe that Domingo should sing in Europe, but should only accept engagements in the United States from the company managers of his choosing. Maybe in a few years, if he is still singing, he might consider some of the companies that wronged him if the casting directors approach him. We in the United States want him back here. As for LA Opera, the company stated that it has no plans for Domingo’s comeback at the moment. I think a resting period between the two might be wise. I believe other companies might be more worthy of Domingo’s participation.

He should not speak to the press. The press started this fiasco and continues to interpret the words of the investigation to its advantage. Domingo should issue a statement. And the statement should not be apologetic. Now it is time for Domingo to get even. The problem is that he is not a vengeful person. So he should simply verbalize that he always told the truth, that there was no story to report, and that the press expanded and fabricated the stories so that he had been in jeopardy of losing his career. But he should add that this final report has exonerated him.

After reading stories published the morning after the release of the results of the LA Opera investigation, there continues to be a trend of the press pushing to oust Domingo from the opera world. The report states that the claims were “credible.” The LA Times changed its original headline and made the claims “valid.” After looking the definition up in Webster’s dictionary, I see that the two words are not synonymous. “Credible” would mean “plausible” whereas “valid” implies more truth to the accusations. The Times talks about Domingo’s “dramatic downfall” and how his future in opera “remains in the balance.” The Times is editorializing to reach its aims. Its news story is really an opinion piece. But the power of the press is strong as well as its freedoms from harm. In the instance of Domingo, I do not know what he should say or do to ward off the liberal press. What matters is not whether or not the press is liberal. What matters is that the press is not honest, and the publications slant stories to meet their own ends. The press is interpreting the words so that they do not follow the straight and narrow but curve on a wiggly line.

As for Domingo’s accusers, most remain anonymous and accused him of acts that happened many years ago in a different political climate. They too owe him apologies for their tactics of revenge.

I believe that LA Opera was trying to almost apologize to Domingo while at the same time protect its employees from feeling uncomfortable and safe from harassment. I do not think that is doable. At least the company has acknowledged that its board has never held people back from complaining, but that a freer means of communication might be in order.

I believe that Domingo will be able to rise above what has happened if his attorneys and public relations people can figure out how to make the press more accountable for its writings so there is less room for interpretation. Journalists are wordsmiths, and that is the problem.

Domingo’s career should be resurrected. But don’t start the celebrations quite yet.

Posted by: operatheaterink | March 11, 2020

Commentary: Plácido Domingo vs. the Union, March 8, 2020

Plácido Domingo vs. the Union in a #MeToo Era of Revenge

Photo: Cory Weaver

By Carol Jean Delmar
Opera Theater Ink

Famous tenor, conductor and general director Plácido Domingo does not deserve all the nonsense that is ruining his career just because the #MeToo movement has taken over society and women are now going nuts for revenge.

I am a 73-year-old woman and opera critic, a nobody to many, but a somebody to me and my hundreds of readers and Facebook friends. I should be on the side of the women who have accused Domingo of sexual harassment and abuse, but I absolutely am not.

I did my share of dating when younger, when men would be men and boys would be boys. That was the culture we lived in. Women didn’t know how to react when men “came on” to them. When dating, a woman didn’t know when to give in or when not to.

“If I don’t do this, will he ask me out again?”

“If I do do this, will he ask me out again?”

Women had to contemplate in silence as men, married and unmarried, became more aggressive because they seemed to have the upper hand on the matter and seemed to come out on top, if you get my pun.

Now many years later, the #MeToo movement has been erected. Women can now stand up for all the misdeeds that have befallen them. The problem is that they are seeking revenge for things that happened to them in a different time and era. For the most part, they wouldn’t even know how to reach the men now, to even the score.

So the rich and famous seem to be getting the brunt of the revenge.

But in many cases, these rich and famous men have changed as well as the women accusers due to the times we live in. They have aged and matured. So why attack them now? Let’s keep the #MeToo era, but let’s use it to the advantage of the men and women of today, not the elderly who couldn’t care less about their heartbeat rate now when they are near a woman, but only care when their heart rate signals a trip to the cardiologist.

Plácido Domingo is in that camp. He refuses “to rust” and wants to run opera companies and help young singers instead.

But society won’t let him. Women have come out of the woodwork to accuse him of flirting with them and making sexual advances. However, the names of most of the women remain anonymous as well as their accusations. Some have apparently said that they gave in because they feared their careers as singers would diminish if they didn’t. But maybe that was in their own minds. Did Domingo mention to them that one had anything to do with the other? Not according to what I am reading in the press by such media organizations as the Associated Press, NPR, the LA Times, The New York Times, and others.

Domingo asked one woman singer if she had to go home that night. She did, so that ended that. One singer now sells real estate, and has for many years. I guess her career was always at stake. She should have been glad to sing with a master.

But various news organizations, including the Associated Press, call these instances news and write about Domingo and his accusers from the side of the accusers.

It is difficult for me to decipher what Domingo did or did not do and even what he is being accused of.

So let’s cut to the chase.

The union, the American Guild of Musical Artists, has held a private investigation. Domingo was found to have flirted and made sexual advances to women while he was general director of Washington National Opera and the Los Angeles Opera. Hmm. Advances can mean little more than flirting. A sin, no doubt.

To make matters worse, a vice president of AGMA resigned because he was unsympathetic to the union’s handling of the situation. The problem is that nobody knows what the real truth is. Did Domingo offer money to cover up the situation? How could he have? The union said it would keep the findings of the investigation private anyhow. But then someone leaked and shared the information with some of the members of the press. That wasn’t supposed to happen.

Domingo apologized for hurting any women who might have felt hurt. But then when some of his engagements were canceled in Europe, the one part of the world that still welcomed him, Domingo took back his apology and denied the accusations once again.

So now because the vice president of AGMA resigned due to the comments made by the union board and the waffling between what Domingo asked of the union or didn’t ask, and what the union is professing to have asked vs. what it didn’t ask — everyone is confused, and the union has decided to hold hearings.

No one knows if Domingo was fined and the money was to pay the fine. Or if Domingo used the money which the union would have accepted, to pay for the costs of the investigation or provide harassment education. At this point, I am utterly confused, and so is the union.

So now the union has stated that hearings will take place to determine the consequences of Domingo’s actions.

But so far the public remains in the dark about most of the data and consequences, which are not spelled out by the courts. Yet during this insecurity, WNO has taken Domingo’s name off its young artist program title. He still founded the program, but now his name is mud.

In my mind, this whole situation is absurd and almost childish.

This cannot be tried in a court of law since Domingo did not break the law.

What can the union do? Censure Domingo or remove his membership, which has already been done temporarily, I think?

I think it is time to leave Plácido Domingo alone. When I hear Domingo, I am wrapped up in listening to his voice and technique since my father was an opera singer and I studied voice. My father and I talked about technique when listening to records. Nowadays all anyone thinks about is did he or didn’t he.

The only way for anyone to be sure about anything related to this happening is to have confidence in the union’s findings and in the process used to arrive at the conclusions.

A union should represent ALL of its members, and in this case, Plácido Domingo is one of them. Before anything can be cleared up regarding sexual harassment accusations against Domingo, it is important that the union investigate itself.

Clearly, the procedures used to investigate a member need to be revised. The consequences regarding certain offenses need to be spelled out. The process cannot change day-to-day based on what is said in the press or due to what the accused and accusers say that prompts board members to change the process temporarily on a given day. Nothing is set in place. No one can trust anyone now, it seems. With that in mind, the results of the investigation have little if any validity. So how can opera companies in the United States and now in Europe cancel an artist’s engagements based on findings that are not truthful? Maestro Domingo is so worried that he drops out of performances at companies that do not even have doubts, including the Royal Opera House. Soon he won’t have a career at all.

His fans are not being heard by the press since the press has a one-sided agenda. The public could never profess to know what is going on behind the scenes. Nothing should be taken at face value. Domingo no doubt has many professionals feeding him words or concepts to say. He doesn’t waffle. He no doubt is listening to a lot of professional people and trying to respond as they advise. But sometimes their advice backfires, and then he is no doubt reverting back to what he thought in the first place. The public will never know. Nor will the press.

Since the #MeToo movement is politically motivated, politicians may have gotten into the action. Some may want votes and although do not know much about opera — they may want votes from some of those who do.

Company directors want subscribers, many who echo the views of the accusers. Newspapers want to sell ads. What appears to be a simple issue has turned into a complicated circus with multiple acts moving simultaneously.

But for now, I think that the union needs to clean up its act before Domingo is tied to a stake.

I also think it is abominable that another investigation is under way by the Los Angeles Opera, where Domingo was general director from 2003 until he recently resigned under pressure. Domingo has given his life to that opera company. He planned to run the company after he retired from performing. And how did the company thank him? By pressuring him to resign with an investigation in place.

I personally am curious. But I know that Domingo is being harassed here far more than any of his women accusers say they have been harassed or abused by him. Sour grapes is all I can think of to describe the situation. No big-named star singers have accused Domingo of a thing. The women accusers just seem to want their minute of fame. Well, they got their time in the spotlight and will probably go down in history as the Witches of the #MeToo movement and AGMA.

So clear your name, AGMA, or you will be buried alive by your witches.

Posted by: operatheaterink | January 28, 2020

Commentary: LA Opera’s 2020-21 Season Without Domingo, Jan. 28, 2020

Gone With the Wind: Not Quite

Placido Domingo in LA Opera’s “Luisa Fernanda” in 2007

By Carol Jean Delmar
Opera Theater Ink

It is amazing to me that the artist who has given his life to the Los Angeles Opera could be totally and utterly “Gone With the Wind” to the company that owes most of its successes to him. How soon we forget!

Just four months ago, Plácido Domingo announced that he would be stepping down as the general director of LA Opera when he was accused of harassing some women at various companies, with only a few of the women giving their names out or going on record. Most of the cited occurrences happened many years ago, but since the birth of the #MeToo movement, the occurrences now seemed pertinent for the Associated Press, the LA Times and some American opera companies to address.

I have written numerous commentaries on the issue.

Domingo is an artist and is being unduly almost banned from singing in the United States, whereas in Europe, he is welcomed as the artist he is and praised for his operatic accomplishments.

Unlike Domingo, other opera singers have been labeled with similar lusts, including a non-singer, the president of the United States, but their careers have not been affected.

Domingo has not been charged with any crimes. Verbally asking a woman if she had to go home that night, is hardly an offense. Nothing has been proven, and Domingo has denied a great deal of the accusations.

What matters to me is that Plácido Domingo is a great, great tenor. He will go down in the history books as such. LA Opera owes him more than can be described here, yet as the company announced its 2020-2021 season on a press release dated Jan. 26, it is as if Domingo had died. And the strange thing is that opera season schedules are planned years in advance, so four months hardly would be enough time to delete Domingo from the 2020-21 season at hand. Yet the CEO of LA Opera, Christopher Koelsch, spoke about the upcoming season as if he was the responsible planner on the press release. At least that is what the LA Times wrote, since I was not in attendance when Koelsch announced the season but read the information on a press release. Koelsch did plan and has been responsible for the day-to-day operations of LA Opera for years, but he was not the visual focal point of the company to the public. Domingo was. So I would assume that Domingo was responsible for bringing various star performers to the company’s 2020-2021 roster, and for selecting some of the works scheduled to be performed.

So I guess that when artists die or have been accused of something, they are forgotten. Not so in the case of so many of Domingo’s peers, one being Luciano Pavarotti. But then it may be even more difficult to be alive and see what is happening to your own career in the light of injustice. I personally am grateful to the opera goers in the European countries for their loyalty to Maestro Domingo.

THE 2020-2021 SEASON:

That said, the upcoming LA Opera season looks inventive, creative and extensive.

The new production of “Il Trovatore” starring soprano Angel Blue promises to be a winning opening. Blue is said to be a “superstar soprano” in the press release.

Not yet, but almost.

Blue will have many audience members applauding her because she has really come full circle. I met Blue when she was studying voice from great baritone Vladimir Chernov at UCLA. She went on to be mentored by Domingo in the LA Opera young artist program. Domingo took her under his wing and sang with her all over Europe. She has garnered much support along the way over the last 10 years from artists who saw her potential. She has worked hard and recently sang Bess in “Porgy and Bess” at the Metropolitan Opera to rave reviews in newspapers including the New York Times. Now she is coming home to LA Opera to star in its opening of “Il Trovatore” in the 2020-21 season. Her potential is great, and she is on the road to becoming a soprano superstar. She is a young talented soprano who is a beautiful person and singer both inside and out, and everyone who knows her and has followed her career is very proud of her.

Other artists of the season include tenor Gregory Kunde, Issacheh Savage in Wagner’s “Tannhäuser,” Roberto Abbado conducting Stefan Herheim’s production of “La Cenerentola,” Ildebrando D’Arcangelo starring in Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” Francesca Zambello directing Verdi’s “Aida,” Harry Bicket conducting the revival of Handel’s baroque “Tamerlano,” and Missy Mazzoli breaking the bounds of new opera with her “Breaking the Waves.”

In addition, longtime great soprano Renée Fleming, a regular at LA Opera, will sing in concert with baritone Rod Gilfry in “The Brightness of Light.” Other performances Off Grand and where LA Opera Connects will also be performed, including “In Our Daughter’s Eyes,” with baritone Nathan Gunn who hasn’t received much acknowledgement on this press release roster, but whose singing and acting were magnificent in LA Opera’s “Magic Flute” a number of years back. He was one of the best Papaganos I have ever heard or seen .

With that said, it is an exciting season to be sure, filled with the old and new. James Conlon will once again conduct a brilliant revival of “Tannhäuser.” The production as I recall it was artistically arresting.

“Breaking the Waves” will be conducted by Grant Gershon and directed by the innovative and creatively masterful James Darrah.

But who really is responsible for the exciting LA Opera season is not discernable: maybe a combination of both Koelsch and Domingo with a little bit of Conlon mixed in. Domingo has said often that he loves LA Opera. It is possible that he has chosen to stay in the background so that the company will move forward in his absence. I cannot imagine the pressures he must have had when he felt obliged to step away from the company he nurtured to maturity.

I only know one thing: Plácido Domingo cannot be forgotten in Los Angeles or by LA Opera. He has left his artistic imprint on the walls of the Music Center and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and they cannot be erased.

For more information about the LA Opera 2020-21 season, go to www.LAOpera.org.

Posted by: operatheaterink | October 3, 2019

Commentary: Plácido Domingo Leaves LA Opera, Oct. 3, 2019

TEARS!

Placido Domingo in LA Opera’s
“El Gato Montes: The Wildcat”
(Photo: Cory Weaver)

By Carol Jean Delmar
Opera Theater Ink

Almost immediately after my “Love Letter to LA Opera” was posted, Plácido Domingo resigned as general director of the Los Angeles Opera. He also will not be performing in “Roberto Devereux” in February.

He did the only thing he could have done. He wrote a beautiful statement to the New York Times virtually thanking LA Opera and wishing the company well. He will concentrate his efforts in Europe. I am very sad, but he did the right thing.

President and Chief Executive Christopher Koelsch will stay to handle the operations of LA Opera.

The investigation will remain in force, which in my mind was a slap in the face to Domingo in the first place. But the fact that it is continuing enrages me even more. It remains a front so that LA Opera can show the world that it is doing the right thing with a politically correct approach. The company could have let others do the investigation, like the union. It is a slap in the face to Domingo who has led the company for years. It is a slap in the face to the general director they supposedly revered.

Domingo was removed from his duties as general director soon after the Associated Press came out with the first story of accusations pending the results of the investigation. Another slap in the face. He was involved in the scheduling and casting of this season and subsequent seasons since calendars are scheduled years in advance. This was another front by LA Opera to show that the company was being proactive.

After other companies in the United States wrongfully canceled his engagements, he was forced to leave the Metropolitan Opera last week. The Met handled the situation all wrong. Please read my prior commentary on Peter Gelb, who held a meeting of chorus singers and orchestra members who complained they felt “awkward” performing with Domingo on the stage. Domingo was pushed out and according to a statement by the Met, “agreed” to leave.

He is right to never again perform in Los Angeles and probably anywhere in the United States. It was like he was attacked by a bunch of ravishing dogs. The women accusers were not the only vultures. The press was. The first woman barely accused him of anything, and AP went in for the kill. Then the second woman accused him and AP went in for the kill again. All the news organizations ran with the story. And, voilà, Domingo’s career was in flames after more than 50 years of being Plácido Domingo.

He had worked so hard to raise the status of LA Opera. He had planned to remain general director of the company after he retired from singing. What a jolt when all his hard work just seemed to go up in smoke unexpectedly after AP ran with the mostly anonymous accusers’ story.

Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times had Domingo gone in his commentary almost two weeks ago. He even had the new general director chosen. How dare the press act as a human resources department and create the news.

And the photos on the LA Opera website of “Roberto Devereux” show that they were from a production at San Francisco Opera. Yes, the LA Opera brochure says it is a company premiere, but it is not an LA Opera production. In tiny letters at the bottom of the page in the brochure, it says it is a Canadian Opera Company production originally owned by the Dallas Opera. Stephen Lawless staged the production in San Francisco and is set to direct the one in Los Angeles. Both San Francisco Opera and Dallas Opera canceled Domingo’s engagements almost the day the AP story broke.

Yes, Domingo did the right thing. I would want to spit venom on the LA Opera stage rather than perform in that production on that stage.

But Domingo took the high road with his statement. I don’t have to. What has happened to Domingo is a travesty and a horrible comment on the press and our society.

Now that Domingo has done what the Times wanted, Swed wrote a front-page story that reads like an obituary. It is all very nice and lists Domingo’s roles throughout the years, and points out his landmark positions in Los Angeles history. It was so clear early on that the LA Times was leading Domingo to the watering trough, but with this article, which is a look back at his career with a few lackluster compliments mixed in, I think that the Times has probably covered itself from encountering any potential illegalities.

I do not know if Domingo has grounds for a defamation libel lawsuit against various press organizations and the state senator who called for his removal from the Met without cause. He would have to prove damages based on intent. I wish he would have grounds, but that is between him and his attorneys.

He was accused with anonymous accusations. The press ran with the juicy story that fit conveniently into the goals of the #MeToo movement with anonymous attributions. And LA Opera has no qualms about continuing with its agenda. Bravo to Domingo for getting out in such a timely fashion.

And if LA Opera thinks it will rise to the occasion, its board members are wrong. Oh, yes, the LA Times will say that LA Opera will thrive, but it won’t. Mark my words. The company will never get another named artist like Plácido Domingo to act as its general director. Even if an artist with a name were considering the position, that artist would look disloyal to Domingo and would most likely never apply.

I spoke to a former member of the board of directors, wanting to know why he left the board. I didn’t get much of a response, but I did hear the sentence: “Everyone knows that Christopher Koelsch has been running LA Opera for years.” Or maybe it was: “Everyone knows that Christopher Koelsch runs LA Opera.”

Yes, well, the contributors are giving the money to LA Opera because of Domingo, not Koelsch. And this particular ex-board member told me that he got tired of spending the money it took to remain on the board due to the amount of productions being performed.

Briefly, to recap LA Opera’s history: LA Opera was run by Edgar Baitzel. He died and there was no one to run the company on a day-to-day basis. Stephen Rountree gave up some of his tasks with the Music Center to become the interim person to run the company.

Plácido Domingo had been the artistic director and then became the general director.

But LA Opera has not been like other companies. Other companies usually do not have a general director who is a major artist whose name helps the company succeed. So when a general director normally leaves a company, if the next general director has a good record of management, that general director can enhance that companies stature.

But in the case of LA Opera, there is NO ONE who can do for the company what Plácido Domingo has done for it.

I wrote a story years ago that Domingo should become artistic consultant and that another person should run the day-to-day operations of the company since Domingo was out singing and conducting for much of the year. LA Opera kept Domingo as general director and Christopher Koelsch eventually moved up the ranks to be that day-to-day person with the title of president and chief executive. The problem was solved.

But there have been other problems along the way.

The “Ring” with “Ring Festival LA” was a drain on the company’s budget.

People like Eli Broad and others were giving millions of dollars to make the production of the “Ring” possible. As I wrote previously, once a company has produced the “Ring,” it has arrived. The festival was a means to enhance tourism in Los Angeles and was billed as the largest festival Los Angeles has ever had. I thought the festival was a separate entity to the “Ring” production, but the production became part of the festival somewhere along the way.

I discovered that the festival was basically a Richard Wagner festival, since it basically honored the composer of the “Ring,” who was a known anti-Semite and racist.

I thought that the opera people didn’t know about the politicians’ intolerance of anti-Semitism and racism in Los Angeles, and that the politicians didn’t know about Wagner and his views. I wanted to help, but I got a swift kick in the pants.

I first went to a major political consulting firm in Los Angeles for help. The firm’s head was interested but learned that another PR firm had been contracted.

I wanted to see the biggest arts festival in Los Angeles that the city had ever had. I wanted to see banners up and down La Cienega Boulevard which, at the time, had numerous art galleries. I wanted all the little theaters to also be involved with their shows and I wanted the theater companies to decorate their theaters with banners that read: “Ring Festival LA.” I wanted all the arts to come together to create this massive festival that would have brought in tourists.

But somewhere along the way, I was branded as being out-of-touch.

Retired LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich was sensitive to my concerns since LA County finances the Music Center. But he limited what I had in my mind as an arts festival and only presented a motion to include other composers with Wagner as part of the festivities.

Well, the press heard that and went to town on the supervisor who meant well and was headed in the right direction, but just didn’t quite hit enough of the right notes. Had that motion passed, the supervisor would have no doubt expanded the original version to include more of the arts, but it didn’t pass.

Just about the only fair press I received was when David Suissa of the Jewish Journal interviewed me. He lived up the street and came over to my house for an interview. He didn’t take notes like other reporters do but appeared extremely relaxed as he lounged on my sofa. I wondered what kind of an article would result, but the article was very fair. Suissa wrote that any major arts festival should be about more than one person. I guess he didn’t need a notepad for that.

Then LA Opera didn’t have the money to finance the production, went over-budget, and went to the LA County Board of Supervisors for a loan.

The company paid back the loan and has been adhering to a tight budget ever since.

LA Opera did alter the festival, however, by revealing Wagner’s warts in all the lectures. That worked. But in my estimation, Los Angeles could have utilized the kind of festival I was envisioning. I would still like to see such an arts festival in Los Angeles in the summer months, which would bring tourism to the city.

Why did I write all this here, when the focus is the Domingo resignation, you might ask?

I wrote it because LA Opera is now in hot water. It was on a tight budget before Domingo announced his exit, but now the funding will spiral way down into the orchestra pit.

LA Opera has moved up the ranks as a company in the United States. But for Mark Swed at the LA Times to say that the company will be just fine with Koelsch at the helm borders on ludicrous.

The company was so small years ago when I was a teacher at a Highland Park elementary school, that one of my co-teachers told me that her husband was traveling to San Francisco Opera to hear opera. That woman is now one of the ladies who volunteers in the booth at the Opera League table in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Again, LA Opera is unlike any other company in the United States. It had Plácido Domingo as its general director. Koelsch may run the company on a daily basis, but it was Domingo who brought in the funding. It was Domingo who brought in the stars. And it was Domingo who brought in the named artists to act as advisors, consultants, and even coaches.

Domingo recruited James Conlon to be the company’s music director and conductor. Conlon has worked tirelessly in that capacity. Not only has he conducted the orchestra with more enthusiasm than a firecracker spreading its light over the ceiling of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, but he has been committed to explaining to audiences the critical factors inherent in each production by means of talks before the performances.

How long will James Conlon stay on? He is getting up in age and conducting all over the world. If he leaves, and he will, that will be another big blow to LA Opera. So what will be left?

There should have never been an investigation by LA Opera. After the Associated Press story broke, LA Opera should have immediately said Domingo is the general director of LA Opera. He will sing in “Roberto Devereux” in February, and that should have been that.

He was not accused of a federal crime. And one woman wrote online that Latins are more touchy than other cultures anyhow. Plus the groundless accusations supposedly happened years ago.

The #MeToo movement has been carried too far.

If LA Opera wanted to save itself, the board could have quickly started defending Domingo, no questions asked. But, alas, that never happened.

More singers should have defended him like Renée Fleming who will be performing later this month in “The Light in the Piazza.” What about Susan Graham, who is a consultant with the young artist program? Why didn’t she defend Domingo? What about James Conlon? I know he must be sick about the turn of events and does defend his recruiter. But why didn’t he speak out?

Frankly, by staying at LA Opera, Conlon is not sending the right message of loyalty to the man that originally recruited him. He must leave in my mind whenever his contract ends, or sooner. And then LA Opera will be the LA Opera it once was, without much support.

I can see it now. Domingo will leave. Someone will become the company’s general director like with other companies. And James Conlon will leave as well.

And what about Marc Stern and Carol Henry — two leaders of the board of directors? What words can they offer to appease the situation? Maybe they will leave, too.

So then Los Angeles will have the type of opera company it had before.

Nobody will care about the company and instead of it keeping its ranking and moving upward, it will quickly start declining. After all, where will the money come from to finance the productions? I doubt that Christopher Koelsch could keep the company afloat as general director or president and chief executive even if he worked 24 hours a day. The only way the company could be saved from spiraling downward would be if a great artist signed on, which is very unlikely now since that would send the wrong message.

LA Opera owes so much gratitude to Plácido Domingo. So what has the company done to show its appreciation? It has alienated him in the name of being politically correct so that he felt the need to resign.

LA Opera can never recoup what it had with Domingo as general director. He is irreplaceable.

Domingo did nothing so terrible as to warrant this outcry in the United States. He is a great, great artist. He is the world’s greatest living tenor. He didn’t deserve any of this. Los Angeles was lucky to have him at the helm of its opera company.

Good luck, LA Opera. You are going to need it.

Posted by: operatheaterink | October 2, 2019

Commentary: A Love Letter to LA Opera, Oct. 1, 2019

A Love Letter to LA Opera
Will He Stay? Or Won’t He Stay? That Is the Question.
Please do the right thing, LA Opera. Your life depends on it.

Arturo Chacon-Cruz, Ana Maria Martinez, Placido Domingo
in LA Opera’s “El Gato Montes: The Wildcat”
(Photo: Cory Weaver)

By Carol Jean Delmar
Opera Theater Ink

I don’t know how the Los Angeles Opera should approach the ending to the Plácido Domingo scandal in the United States, but I hope the company leaders do it correctly and are not pressured by anyone, including the press, politicians, and even the results of their own investigation by an attorney.

So far, the company is batting zero with me because I believe that the investigation was uncalled for and is a slap in the face to the great artist, Plácido Domingo, who is in the company’s general director.

The investigation must have been a front so that LA Opera could show the world that it is doing the right thing with a politically correct approach. The company could have let others do the investigation, like the union. It is a slap in the face to Domingo who has led the company for years. It is a slap in the face to the general director they have revered.

After what has happened at the Metropolitan Opera, with Domingo’s exit from that company, and after other companies canceled his engagements, he has decided most likely to perform out of the United States, which has wronged him on many levels.

But he is still scheduled to sing “Roberto Devereux” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with LA Opera the end of February. I would say that whether or not he sings has a great deal to do with whether or not he remains the general director of LA Opera.

Many scenarios could be in the works. He could remain general director and sing in February. He could retire as general director and still sing in February. He could retire as general director and not sing in February. But the main aspect for LA Opera to consider is “how” he leaves when and if he leaves.

Right now, the investigation is underway. And Domingo has been removed from his duties as general director even though he was involved in the scheduling and casting for this season and for upcoming seasons as well, since opera contracts are signed sometimes years in advance. So that action by LA Opera was another front to show the world that the company is proactive.

Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times has Domingo gone. He even has the new general director chosen — with the current president and chief executive officer of the company becoming its general director.

LA Opera needs to think hard, very hard about the company’s history and future.

I spoke to a former member of the board of directors, wanting to know why he left the board. I didn’t get much of a response, but I did hear the sentence: “Everyone knows that Christopher Koelsch has been running LA Opera for years.” Or maybe it was: “Everyone knows that Christopher Koelsch runs LA Opera.”

Yes, well, I go way back, too. And I believe that I have outlined LA Opera’s history in other commentaries.

Briefly, LA Opera was run by Edgar Baitzel. He died and there was no one to run the company on a day-to-day basis. Stephen Rountree gave up some of his tasks with the Music Center to become the interim person to run the company.

Plácido Domingo had been the artistic director and then became the general director.

But LA Opera is not like other companies. Other companies usually do not have a general director who is a major artist whose name helps the company succeed. So when a general director normally leaves a company, if the next general director has a good record of management, that general director can enhance that companies stature.

But in the case of LA Opera, there is NO ONE who can do for the company what Plácido Domingo has done for it.

I wrote a story years ago that Domingo should become artistic consultant and that another person should run the day-to-day operations of the company since Domingo is out singing and conducting for much of the year. LA Opera kept Domingo as general director and Christopher Koelsch eventually moved up the ranks to be that day-to-day person with the title of president and chief executive. Problem solved. And I hear he is doing an excellent job.

But there have been other problems along the way.

The “Ring” with “Ring Festival LA” was a drain to the company’s budget.

People like Eli Broad and others were giving millions of dollars to make the production of the “Ring” possible. As I wrote previously, once a company has produced the “Ring,” it has arrived. The festival was a means to enhance tourism in Los Angeles and was billed as the largest festival Los Angeles has ever had. I thought the festival was a separate entity to the “Ring” production, but the production became part of the festival somewhere along the way.

I discovered that the festival was basically a Richard Wagner festival, since it basically honored the composer of the “Ring,” who was a known anti-Semite and racist.

I thought that the opera people didn’t know about the politicians’ intolerance of anti-Semitism and racism in Los Angeles, and that the politicians didn’t know about Wagner and his views. I wanted to help, but I got a swift kick in the pants.

I first went to a major political consulting firm in Los Angeles for help. The firm’s head was interested but learned that another PR firm had been contracted.

I wanted to see the biggest arts festival in Los Angeles that the city had ever had. I wanted to see banners up and down La Cienega Boulevard which, at the time, had numerous art galleries. I wanted all the little theaters to also be involved with their shows and I wanted the theater companies to decorate their theaters with banners that read: “Ring Festival LA.” I wanted all the arts to come together to create this massive festival that would have brought in tourists.

But somewhere along the way, I was branded as being out-of-touch.

Retired LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich was sensitive to my concerns since LA County finances the Music Center. But he limited what I had in my mind as an arts festival and only presented a motion to include other composers with Wagner as part of the festivities.

Well, the press heard that and went to town on the supervisor who meant well and was headed in the right direction, but just didn’t quite hit enough of the right notes.

Just about the only fair press I got was when David Suissa of the Jewish Journal interviewed me. He lived up the street and came over to my house for an interview. He didn’t take notes like other reporters do but appeared extremely relaxed as he lounged on my sofa. I wondered what kind of an article would result, but the article was very fair. Suissa wrote that any major arts festival should be about more than one person. I guess he didn’t need a notepad for that.

Then LA Opera didn’t have the money to finance the production and went to the LA County Board of Supervisors for a loan.

The company paid back the loan and has been adhering to a tight budget ever since.

LA Opera did alter the festival, however, by revealing Wagner’s warts in all the lectures. That worked. But in my estimation, Los Angeles could have utilized the kind of festival I was envisioning. I would still like to see such an arts festival in Los Angeles in the summer months, which would bring tourism to the city.

Why did I write all this regarding the Domingo scandal, you ask?

I wrote it because I do not know what the LA Opera board is contemplating right now. So far, the Met has made major mistakes with how the company handled its situation.

I just do not want LA Opera to do the same. I ask LA Opera to be very careful as the options are weighed.

The company has already slapped Domingo in the face with its investigation.

It would be nice if the results would turn out positive for Domingo. But if I were him, that would still anger me since LA Opera didn’t need to doubt him. And if some of the results turn out to be negative, then both Domingo and the company end up unhappy so that no one wins.

LA Opera has moved up the ranks as a company in the United States. But for Mark Swed at the LA Times to say that the company will be just fine with Koelsch at the helm borders on ludicrous.

The company was so small years ago when I was a teacher at a Highland Park school, that one of my co-teachers always told me that her husband was going to San Francisco Opera to hear opera. That woman is now one of the ladies who volunteers in the booth at the Opera League table in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Again, LA Opera is unlike any other company in the United States. It has Plácido Domingo as its general director. Koelsch may run the company on a daily basis, but it is Domingo who can bring in the funding. It is Domingo who can bring in the stars. And it is Domingo who can bring in the named artists to act as advisors, consultants, and even coaches.

Domingo recruited James Conlon to be the company’s music director and conductor. Conlon has worked tirelessly in that capacity. Not only has he conducted the orchestra with more enthusiasm than a firecracker spreading its light over the ceiling of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, but he has been committed to explaining to audiences the critical factors inherent in each production by means of talks before the performances.

So I don’t know what the answer is or what LA Opera should do or what Domingo “will” do after what has happened throughout the United States. I doubt he will remain as a fixture with the company. But it is Plácido Domingo who has been at the forefront of LA Opera for years.

NO ONE can replace Plácido Domingo. No one. And now we are supposed to wait more months to hear the outcome of the investigation.

There should have never been an investigation. After the Associated Press story broke, LA Opera should have immediately said Domingo is the general director of LA Opera. He will sing in “Roberto Devereux” in February, and that should have been that.

He was not accused of a federal crime. Even if he likes women, so what? As he said, times were different years ago. And one woman wrote online that Latins are more touchy anyhow than other cultures. So what?

The #MeToo movement has gone too far.

The board of directors is not talking. Well some of the members ought to come out and defend Domingo.

At this point, if I were him, I would retire and move to Europe where he is treated with respect.

But if LA Opera wants to save itself, the board should quickly start defending Domingo, no questions asked.

More singers should start defending him. What about Renée Fleming who will be performing later this month? What about Susan Graham, who is a consultant with the young artist program? What about James Conlon?

I can see it now. Domingo will leave. Someone will become the company’s general director like with other companies. And later, James Conlon will leave as well. He is not so young anymore either.

So then Los Angeles will have the type of opera company it had before.

Nobody will care about the company and instead of it keeping its ranking and moving upward, it will start declining. After all, where will the money come from to finance the productions? I doubt that Christopher Koelsch could keep the company afloat as general director or president and chief executive even if he works 24 hours a day.

LA Opera owes so much gratitude to Plácido Domingo that it isn’t even funny. So what has the company done to show its appreciation? It has alienated him in the name of being politically correct.

LA Opera’s board better think very hard as it takes its next steps. If the company declines and fails, it will be because of the company’s inflexibility and adherence to trying to appease groups like the press and politicians.

It is time for LA Opera to assess what it has now, and what could happen if Plácido Domingo is no longer part of the company. In my mind, LA Opera can never recoup what it has with Domingo as general director. He is irreplaceable. I would like to see Domingo remain in his current capacity, but would understand if he chose not to. Second would be for him to remain as possibly an artistic director instead. But he should remain attached to LA Opera in some capacity, and the decision should be his.

Domingo did nothing so terrible as to warrant this outcry in the United States. He is a great, great artist. He is the world’s greatest living tenor. He didn’t deserve any of this. Los Angeles is lucky to have him at the helm of its opera company.

I beseech the board members and leaders of LA Opera to think hard before doing the wrong thing.

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