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.