Mexican music prize snubs Placido Domingo amid scandal

Mexico City (AFP) –


The organizers of Mexico's Batuta prize in classical music said Thursday they would no longer award it to Placido Domingo, the legendary opera singer facing a flood of sexual harassment accusations.

Domingo had been due to receive the first edition of the prize Saturday in Mexico City along with 15 other honorees, but organizers said they had decided to put his award on hold "until all this has been clarified."

The latest snub of the Spanish mega-star came a day after he resigned as general director of the Los Angeles Opera, effectively putting an end to his career in the United States.

He also withdrew last week from all performances at New York's Metropolitan Opera. Several other US opera houses have cancelled concerts featuring him because of the sexual harassment allegations.

Domingo's publicist said in a statement sent to AFP that he had never planned to attend the Batuta gala.

"The event organizers knew from the beginning that he would not be able to attend," said Los Angeles-based publicist Nancy Seltzer.

However, organizers had said as late as Thursday morning that Domingo's attendance was confirmed, before changing track amid growing scrutiny of the decision to honor him.

"Given the accusations... we reiterate our hope that this situation will be cleared up soon, to the benefit of all involved and the classical music community," they said in a statement.

Domingo, 78, is accused by 20 women of forcibly kissing, grabbing or fondling them, in incidents going back at least to the 1980s.

Domingo, known as the "King of Opera," has responded that "all my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual."

In Mexico, some in the opera community had criticized his selection for the prize.

"How can you give a prize to a someone for his artistic quality... without considering what kind of person he is?" Mexican soprano Violeta Davalos, who says she herself has been a victim of sexual assault within the opera community, told AFP.

The Batuta, which organizers hope to make an annual prize, will be awarded to 15 honorees including British composer Michael Nyman, Mexican soprano Maria Luisa Tamez and Mexican conductor Enrique Batiz, who is himself facing sexual assault allegations.