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.