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Entertainment & Arts

Plácido Domingo apologizes for ‘hurt that I caused’ as investigation finds misconduct

Plácido Domingo
Plácido Domingo issued an apology for his behavior in advance of the expected release of findings from the union representing opera performers.
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

Fallen opera star Plácido Domingo released a statement to The Times late Monday night apologizing for the behavior that led to a series of sexual harassment allegations last summer and culminated in his resignation as general manager of Los Angeles Opera in October.

“I have taken time over the last several months to reflect on the allegations that various colleagues of mine have made against me. I respect that these women finally felt comfortable enough to speak out, and I want them to know that I am truly sorry for the hurt that I caused them,” Domingo said.

“I accept full responsibility for my actions, and I have grown from this experience. I understand now that some women may have feared expressing themselves honestly because of a concern that their careers would be adversely affected if they did so. While that was never my intention, no one should ever be made to feel that way.”

The statement preceded news Tuesday that the American Guild of Musical Artists, which represents opera performers, summarized findings of its sexual harassment investigation of Domingo.

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“The investigation concluded that Mr. Domingo had, in fact, engaged in ​inappropriate activity, ranging from flirtation to sexual advances, in and outside of the workplace,” the union statement said. “Many of the witnesses expressed fear of retaliation in the industry as their reason for not coming forward sooner.”

Some of the allegations against Domingo date to his tenure at Washington National Opera in Washington, D.C. One accuser, singer Angela Turner Wilson, said that during that company’s 1999-2000 season, Domingo grabbed her bare breast under her robe. Former singer Patricia Wulf also has said she was harassed by Domingo while working in Washington.

In a joint statement released to The Times on Tuesday, the women said: “Even though the industry failed to protect us from misogynist and predatory behavior, an expulsion from the union would signal that the industry is learning from its mistakes and that sexual harassment and abuse — perpetuated by industry complicity — will not be tolerated in the future.”

The union did not respond to The Times’ request to clarify whether Domingo was expelled from the American Guild of Musical Artists. The union also did not clarify whether the phrase “sexual advances” encompasses unwanted touching in addition to spoken harassment. AGMA did say it would not be releasing the full findings of the investigation.

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Domingo was general director of Los Angeles Opera, a company he helped found, from 2003 to last year and performed more than 300 times in 31 roles. The company opened an investigation into his conduct and invited employees to be interviewed but has not yet announced any findings. President and Chief Executive Christopher Koelsch has assumed the top post at the company, and Domingo has gone on to perform to warm receptions in Europe.

“L.A. Opera is in the process of receiving and considering the findings of the independent Gibson Dunn investigation,” a spokeswoman said Tuesday, referencing the law firm hired by the opera to conduct the inquiry. “We expect to complete that process shortly and will have further comment at that time.”

An AGMA spokeswoman said Tuesday that the union “will be taking steps to address the systemic issues identified which allow harassment to occur and go unreported and unaddressed in the workplace.”

Those steps will include training programs aimed at changing industry culture and improving the process for reporting sexual harassment.


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