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Entertainment & Arts

L.A. Opera employees invited to speak in Plácido Domingo sexual harassment inquiry

Placido Domingo
Los Angeles Opera’s general manager, Plácido Domingo, is the subject of an independent investigation by Debra Wong Yang of the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher into allegations of sexual harassment.
(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

Pressure may be mounting for a resolution to the sexual harassment accusations against Plácido Domingo, but a letter sent to Los Angeles Opera employees and contractors Monday indicated that the results of an internal investigation may be a long way off.

“As part of our investigation, we intend to speak with many current and former employees and contractors of the LA Opera,” read the email sent Monday from Debra Wong Yang of the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, which L.A. Opera hired to conduct the investigation. “I want to personally take this opportunity to introduce myself and invite you to speak with us. While we may ultimately contact you directly to request an interview, it is very important to us that anyone who wants to speak to us has the opportunity to do so.”

Yang’s letter also said L.A. Opera would prohibit retaliation against “anyone participating in an investigation in good faith.”

The harassment accusations against Domingo first surfaced in an Associated Press report published Aug. 13. L.A. Opera announced an investigation that same day.

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Domingo has called the allegations “as presented, inaccurate.” Many expected the investigation would move forward at an accelerated clip, partly to eliminate distraction as L.A. Opera launches a new season and partly because Domingo is scheduled to sing in “Macbeth” on Sept. 25 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The Met has said that it will wait for the results of Yang’s investigation before deciding on Domingo’s fate there.

The new invitation for L.A. Opera employees to come forward and be interviewed by Yang seems to make a resolution of the case before Sept. 25 unlikely, and it leaves the Met moving forward with controversy attached to its opening week cast. No protesters were present for opening night Saturday in Los Angeles, but it’s possible that the #MeToo movement could turn out in New York.

The letter also answered a lingering question about the scope of Yang’s investigation and indicated she intends to look beyond the 18 anonymous women and two named women in two AP articles.

Yang’s letter landed two days after L.A. Opera opened its 34th season with a punkish production of Puccini’s “La Bohème,” followed by a ball under the stars on the newly renovated Music Center Plaza. The night was notable for what it lacked: any mention of Domingo. The program contained no traditional welcome note from the general manager, there was no sight of Domingo before or after the performance and there was not a single mention of his name during official comments at the ball afterward.

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The closest anyone got to mentioning Domingo came when board Chairman Marc Stern, in his opening statement to 325 gala guests, said: “I would be naïve and disingenuous if I didn’t say we were under stress.”

The year’s most important fundraiser for L.A. Opera grossed $1.1 million, the company said, the same sum as last year, with nearly the same number of guests. That, combined with a full house for “La Bohème,” indicated that Domingo’s troubles have yet to severely hurt the company’s bottom line.

This fall’s classical music highlights include Esa-Pekka Salonen, “Porgy and Bess” and the L.A. Phil’s birthday gala.


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