Embattled opera star Placido Domingo resigns from LA Opera

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Legendary opera singer Placido Domingo, who is facing myriad sexual harassment accusations, announced Wednesday that was resigning as general director of the Los Angeles Opera, effectively putting an end to his career in the United States.

"Recent accusations that have been made against me in the press have created an atmosphere in which my ability to serve this company that I so love has been compromised," Domingo, 78, wrote in a statement obtained by AFP.

"While I will continue to work to clear my name, I have decided that it is in the best interests of LA Opera for me to resign as its general director and withdraw from my future scheduled performances at this time.

"I do so with a heavy heart and at the same time wish to convey to the company's dedicated board and hard-working staff my deepest wishes that the LA Opera continue to grow and excel."

The LA Opera's executive committee issued a statement thanking the singer, who has been at the helm of the institution since 2003, and crediting him for cultural contributions to the city that are "unprecedented and profound."

"He is not only an outstandingly talented artist, but also the driving force behind the creation, development and growth of LA Opera," the statement said.

"Under his leadership, LA Opera became known for its spirit of collaborative creativity and its ability to attract superb performers from across the globe -- including Placido himself, who delivered more than 300 performances in 31 different roles and conducted more than 100 times in Southern California over the course of the past five decades."

His resignation comes a week after Domingo announced that he was withdrawing from all performances at New York's Metropolitan Opera.

- Concert in Europe -

The 11th-hour decision came just one night before the Spaniard, dubbed the "King of Opera," was scheduled to perform the title role in the Met's sold-out first production of "Macbeth."

In August, eight singers and a dancer told the Associated Press about incidents going back to the 1980s, including one in which a woman said Domingo put his hand down her skirt while three others said he forcibly kissed them.

A subsequent report by the US news agency cited 11 more women, including one who said he reached down her robe to grab her bare breast.

The reports painted a portrait of a man who acted with impunity, shielded by his power as one of opera's foremost stars, as a whisper network formed warning women of his alleged reputation.

Several US opera houses, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the San Francisco Opera and the Dallas Opera, have cancelled concerts featuring Domingo in recent months because of the sexual harassment allegations.

Domingo, who has been a conductor and director of some of the world's most prestigious opera houses, and debuted at the Met at age 27, has called the allegations against him "deeply troubling and, as presented inaccurate."

He has argued that "all my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual."

None of Domingo's upcoming performances in Europe have been cancelled and he is scheduled to perform in a number of concerts this fall, including in Switzerland, Russia and Poland.

In Mexico, Domingo is due to receive the Batuta prize for classical music on Saturday.