Spanish opera singer Placido Domingo was nicknamed “the king of the opera” until he was accused of sexual harassment last year. He is now a persona non grata in many houses, having played 150 roles on the biggest stages in the world.
“If I rest, I rust”: this is the motto of this famous artist with an unusual workforce, who has performed more than 4,000 times and has recorded more than 100 albums.
In January, its official website still indicated that “in his 80th year, the 61st as a professional opera singer, the astonishing Placido Domingo shows no signs of slowing down”.
But the tenor, once again baritone with age, astounding by his aura on stage, was overtaken by the #MeToo movement and accusations of sexual harassment in the United States.
In surveys published in August and September by the Associated Press, about twenty women claimed to have been harassed by Domingo from the late 1980s. They accused him of touching, forced kissing and inappropriate remarks and to have harmed their careers if refused.
What tarnishes the legend of an artist covered with praise, prizes, and decorations.
What his fans simply call Placido has been praised for the beauty and richness of its dark timbre, its musicality, its sense of prosody, its acting. He also appeared as the most active lyric singer on the planet, capable, one evening in 1993, of singing two roles in two theaters in Vienna, taking the tram in between to rest.
– Family of singers –
Placido was born on January 21, 1941, in Madrid, where he grew up in a family of singers of Zarzuelas, the traditional Madrid operettas.
He was eight years old when his parents moved to Mexico, where he studied piano, conducting and then singing at the Music Conservatory of Mexico.
He begins by singing zarzuelas with his parents as a baritone. Then, through hard work, his range changes and he becomes a tenor.
At 20, in Monterrey, Mexico, he obtained his first major role: Alfredo in “La Traviata” by Verdi, before spending three seasons with the Tel Aviv National Opera during which he will give 280 performances in twelve different roles.
In 1965, Pinkerton’s role in “Madame Butterfly” in New York launched her international career. And in 1973, he himself conducted his beloved “Traviata” at the New York City Opera and distinguished himself as a conductor on all continents.
In West Berlin, in 1986, an enthusiastic audience applauded him for more than an hour, breaking the record of 103 recalls, after his performance in “Othello” by Verdi.
Then, in 1990, he formed the trio of “Three Tenors” with Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras, who would attract a huge audience around the world, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris as in the Forbidden City in Beijing.
“The stage is my life”, launched Domingo in 2011 at the Madrid opera house, where a host of singers paid tribute to him for his 70th birthday during a surprise concert broadcast in around twenty countries.
But today, he can no longer sing the “Traviata” in the same Royal Theater: he himself announced Thursday that he would give up performing on this Madrid scene as in other houses “which would have difficulties assume “their commitments with him …
The harassment charges had already ended his career in the United States, where he had to give up the post of director-general of the Los Angeles Opera in the fall.
The artistic director then general of the Washington National Opera between 1996 and 2011, he was notably accused of having pursued in this institution singers of his far too insistent advances.
He apologized on Tuesday to the women who accused him, saying he accepts “full responsibility for (his) actions”.
However, he reiterated on Thursday that he had “never been aggressive towards anyone” or “done nothing to harm someone’s career”.