ECLECTIC RANT: Was SF Opera’s Cancellation Of Plácido Domingo Concert Too Hasty?

Ralph E. Stone
Friday August 23, 2019 - 02:40:00 PM

The San Francisco Opera canceled the Plácido Domingo concert scheduled for Oct. 6. The company issued a press release saying the move to cancel the show comes in the wake of news of multiple allegations of sexual harassment against Domingo.  

The allegations against Mr. Domingo were made by eight singers and a dancer, all but one of whom spoke anonymously. They accused him of using his power in the opera world to try to pressure them into sexual relationships, including repeated, harassing phone calls; some claimed that they believed their careers had been harmed when they rejected him. 

For those unfamiliar with Domingo, he is a Spanish-born singer, conductor, and as of 2017, the general director of the Los Angeles Opera. His imposing physical stature, good looks, and dramatic flare made him one of the most popular tenors of his time. An aunt, uncle, and cousin had died in the September 1985 Mexico City earthquake; Domingo spent an entire year he singing in benefit events and dedicated the proceeds to relief for the survivors and to reconstruction projects. In 1990, he joined tenors José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti as part of The Three Tenors. 

Why did the SF Opera prejudge the veracity of the sexual harassment allegations by one named and eight unnamed accusers by canceling the concert? At least the Metropolitan Opera, where he is scheduled to sing two roles this season, said they would wait for the results of an investigation by the Los Angeles Opera before taking any action. 

Sexual harassment should not be ignored as it has for too long but in fairness, shouldn’t Domingo at least be given the benefit of the doubt until all the evidence, if any, is in.  

And what kind of behavior should be actionable? By actionable, I mean castigation in the media, forced resignation, job termination, and even legal action. Should there be a line drawn between boorish behavior and grabbing women "by the pussy," or should we continue the zero tolerance policy we seem to be on now? 

Taking action too quickly may become, in some cases, a sort of sexual McCarthyism.