TAB 200304 Placido DOmingo-1583307601362
Opera singer Placido Domingo Image Credit: REUTERS

Placido Domingo’s name has been removed from the Washington National Opera’s young artist program “in light of recent developments,” the opera house announced Tuesday, after an independent investigation found the legendary tenor had sexually harassed women while holding senior positions at the company.

Domingo was the leading figure at the WNO from 1996-2011 as artistic director and later general director. He created the young artists program in 2002 and it was named the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program after him and The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation.

Last week, the American Guild of Musical Artists, the main union that represents opera performers, said its four-month investigation had found the 79-year-old singer had “engaged in inappropriate activity, ranging from flirtation to sexual advances, in and outside of the workplace.”

“The results of the recently released independent investigation prompted the additional discussion and the subsequent decision” to drop Domingo’s name from the program, WNO spokeswoman Rachelle Roe said.

In concert with the findings, Domingo apologised to the women who had accused him of misconduct, after denying the allegations for months. “I want them to know that I am truly sorry,” he said. “I accept full responsibility for my actions.”

But two days later, as several Spanish organisations moved to cancel his appearances, he issued a second statement saying his apology had generated a false impression that he wanted to correct. “I have never behaved aggressively toward anybody, nor have I ever done anything to obstruct or hurt the career of anybody,” he said.

The opera union began its investigations after the publication of Associated Press stories in which multiple women accused Domingo of sexual harassment and abusing his power. A second investigation is still ongoing at the Los Angeles Opera, where Domingo was general director from 2003 until he resigned in October.

According to people who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the report, AGMA’s investigation found that 27 people were sexually harassed or had witnessed inappropriate behaviour by Domingo in the 1990s and 2000s, when he held senior management positions at the Washington and Los Angeles companies. They said another 12 people told investigators they were aware of the star’s reputation and that it was common knowledge at the companies.

WNO said the name of its program would be changed to the Cafritz Young Artists of Washington National Opera, adding in its statement that it “acknowledges Mr Domingo’s singular artistic legacy and contribution to the opera field and to WNO.”