(Paris) Nearly two years after accusations of sexual harassment he has always denied, opera legend Placido Domingo said in an interview with AFP, “You cannot rewrite your past,” even if we should be able to “criticize it, including fiercely “.
The one who is still considered by many to be the “King of Opera” is in Paris – for the first time since January 2019 – for a unique concert on Monday at the Salle Gaveau, after singing in recent months in Moscow, Madrid, Munich and has upcoming concerts in Italy or Vienna.
In an investigation by the Associated Press in 2019, Placido Domingo, now 80, was accused by about two dozen women of sexual harassment (touching, forced kissing, inappropriate remarks, restraint in professional life) from the late 1980s in the United States. He then resigned as director of the Los Angeles Opera and his North American career ended. An investigation by the AGMA (the main federation of opera singers in the United States) found “inappropriate behaviour”.
The tenor-turned-baritone, who was not subject to any legal process, apologized while denying any offense.
“It’s been some really difficult months, but they’ve been through and I’m glad I contacted the press in a very honest way. I was wrong not to do it before because it was a media trial,” Domingo told AFP.
If the interview is conducted face-to-face, responses relating to harassment issues are sent to AFP in writing, at the request of the singer’s communications team.
He repeats that an “unfair adjective” hung on him, “without foundation and in spite of his sayings.”
Nevertheless, the singer believes that “today we must look at the past with the eyes of the present, because it is right to ask questions to pave the way for a new sensitivity and awareness.”
But he made a difference, “We cannot rewrite our past.” “We have to understand it in its context and criticize it, including severely if necessary, but it doesn’t make sense to destroy it.”
He continues to receive offers to sing in “theatres around the world, including the United States”. “But I wouldn’t be the one to put it in the theaters I’ve worked in all my life.”
In his native country, where more than a year ago the Ministry of Culture canceled his performances at the Teatro de la Zarzuela, he had just experienced the “strongest emotion” of his life, during a concert in Madrid, where he was born in 1941.
“To get up on stage and have the whole audience standing and clapping for eight minutes non-stop, it was a very nice feeling. When I started singing, I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it under the influence of emotion.”
The most famous opera?
After a year of battling COVID-19, he’s back at “more intense work.”
He “dreams” of returning to sing at the Palais Garnier “especially with the arrival of Gustavo Dudamel”, the new musical director of the Paris Opera with whom he worked in Los Angeles, and claims to be in contact with Alexandre Neve, head of the opera.
Singer of all records -151 roles, more than 4000 stage performances, more than 100 albums and 103 recalls in 1986 after Othello By Verdi, his favorite opera he sang 225 times – he says he doesn’t know when it will stop.
“We can live four lives and there will still be a lot of opera houses to sing! He jokes. He will stop if his voice no longer obeys him or because he becomes physically difficult,” says the singer, who is also the conductor.
Convinced that the opera is “more famous than ever”, with a “huge” number of concert venues and exceptional voices, he says he is “lucky” to be part of the “Three Tenors”, the trio he formed with Luciano Pavarotti and José Carreras and is partly responsible for their prestige. as international opera stars.
After being launched in 1996 the operaA prestigious international opera singing competition, he is concerned about the effects of the pandemic on young people who have to start from scratch.
However, he is “optimistic”, because “there will be no shortage of singing singers … but it is up to the audience to decide who will be tomorrow’s Pavarotti, Carreras and Domingo.”