Opera star Domingo says he's 'truly sorry' over sexual harassment
The sexual harassment allegations against Placido Domingo first surfaced in August and within months had effectively ended his U.S. career. (AFP / Mark Ralston)
MADRID, SPAIN -- Opera star Placido Domingo, facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment, on Tuesday apologized for "the hurt" caused to his accusers, saying he accepted "full responsibility" for his actions.
"I want them to know that I am truly sorry for the hurt that I caused them. I accept full responsibility for my actions," he said in a statement sent to Spanish news agency Europa Press and seen by AFP.
The 79-year-old -- who has been a director and conductor at some of the world's most prestigious opera houses -- has been accused by at least 20 women of forcibly kissing, grabbing or fondling them in incidents dating back to at least the 1980s.
Until now, Domingo has denied the allegations, referring to them variously as "inaccurate" and saying all his interactions and relationships were "always welcomed and consensual."
"I have taken time over the last several months to reflect on the allegations that various colleagues of mine have made against me," said Domingo, who was one of the most recognized tenors of the 20th century but has since transformed himself into a baritone.
The accusations first began to surface in August and two months later, he stepped down as general director of the Los Angeles Opera, and withdrew from all future performances at New York's Metropolitan Opera, effectively ending his U.S. career.
Reports have painted a portrait of a man who acted with impunity, shielded by his power as one of opera's foremost stars.
Several of the women said Domingo tried to pressure them into sexual relationships by dangling jobs, and then sometimes punished them professionally when they refused his advances -- but in his statement, he said that had "never" been his intention.
"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," he said.
Domingo said he wanted to affect "positive change in the opera industry so that no one else has to have that same experience," expressing hope his apology would encourage others to do the same.
"It is my fervent wish that the result will be a safer place to work for all in the opera industry, and I hope that my example moving forward will encourage others to follow," the statement concluded.
Domingo's career has been less affected by the scandal in Europe than in the United States, with the "King of Opera" performing in Austria, Hungary and Russia since the allegations first surfaced.