Posted by: operatheaterink | September 20, 2019

Commentary: NPR on Domingo at the Met, Sept. 20, 2019

Plácido Domingo: Courageous



By Carol Jean Delmar
Opera Theater Ink

I woke up again to another story by NPR on Plácido Domingo at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Frankly, everyone is writing how much courage it has taken for the accusers to come forth. In the NPR story, the accusations are simply from staff members who “feel awkward” being around Domingo as he rehearses for his upcoming engagement of “Macbeth” with star Anna Netrebko, who has called him “fantastic.” Is this truly a story? Has the world gone mad?

Now he is being hampered because these people feel awkward being around him. Frankly, Domingo is the one with the courage to get up every morning and go to rehearsal. Domingo is the courageous one. These staffers are again anonymous. The story says that his advances started 40 years ago and have slowed down, probably come to a halt. Yes, the only courageous one is Domingo. The man is almost 80 years old. His wife is 84. Far too late to come down on him now, and all because they feel awkward.

And they say that the negative work environment is in part due to memories of the James Levine scandal. Well, that was quite different. Levine’s offenses were by underage boys and there were legal proceedings that went with the accusations, and Domingo and Levine are totally different people as well. Plus, Levine, who was the Met’s music director for many years, was at the Met every day when he was healthy. Domingo sings there when engaged. So why should anonymous staffers at the Met feel threatened by Domingo being in the house? Totally different situations with totally different accusers and involving totally different men.

It is the press that has gone mad as well. These complainers are going to the press, not to attorneys, because there is nothing there. Why have they waited all these years to go to the management? And even now, they could have gone to the management before rehearsals started and solved the problems internally. Instead, it seems the press is seeking out the complainers, and the complainers are going to the press.

They are being called courageous, when the only courageous person among them is Plácido Domingo.

They say there has been an awkward power dynamic going on between employees and the powerful ones like Domingo, Levine and Peter Gelb, the general manager. Well, I have news for them. There is a power dynamic between managers and employees in every work place in this country and in the land.

Plus it is now convenient and in vogue to be anonymous based on fearing retribution. These staffers may have feared that Domingo is liked at the Met and that if they went to upper management, nothing would be done and they could lose their jobs for trying, since Domingo is more important to the board at the Met than they are, so they went to the press instead. After all, Domingo sells tickets and he is loved by his supporters, so maybe the complainers thought they wouldn’t have a leg to stand on if they complained.

That said: I think that fearing that the art form of opera would be in jeopardy if they went on the record is pushing it. Excuses. Excuses.

I have no idea how to resolve this. It appears that the opera companies read the newspapers and then cancel Domingo’s engagements in the United States. Frankly, I look down on those companies for acting so quickly with insignificant information. I think that in this case, it is the staffers at the Met who are causing the problem if they actually went to NPR to complain. And if NPR came to them and they played along by answering questions, then it is their fault, too, for not handling the problems internally.

The only solution to this problem is probably for everyone to stay quiet. I look like I am changing my mind here. It is one thing to respond to stories that are outwardly damaging one’s career, like the Mark Swed commentary in the LA Times. It is another thing when anonymous people go to a newspaper to try a case in the press because they feel awkward and cannot go anywhere else since there is nothing there and they fear that nothing would come of their complaints if they went to the powers that be at their company.

The press doesn’t look too good either because the press is turning the complaints into stories that could be resolved internally and not in a newspaper, or on a radio or television show. The news is being fabricated.

The complainers feel awkward? Well, how do they think Domingo must feel about now: awkward.

I think that members of the press should stop the offensive reporting, and I think that all of these accusers and complainers should stop talking to the press.

The latest complaints could have been handled internally.

All of this is making the complainers, accusers and news organizations lack credibility. This round of complainers should realize that it is “they” who are making people feel awkward at the Met. Their gripes may or may not have been known. Yet after this story, they are.

Domingo is the only one truly suffering from the whole frenzy. The anonymous accusers and complaining staffers are the ones creating the difficult work environment, not Domingo. If anything, the only courageous one in the bunch is Domingo himself.