Almost a year after the first accusations of sexual harassment and after having overcome COVID-19, the Spanish tenor and director Plácido Domingo feels “good and strong”, although he acknowledges that it has been “a very hard year.” Regardless, he promises that he will “never” retire “from music”.
The musician reappeared in Salzburg last Thursday to receive the Austrian Prize for Musical Theater 2020 for his professional career. The award moved Domingo, 79 years old.
The award recognized -according to the jury- a long, multifaceted and influential career with more than 150 operatic roles in his repertoire, and outstanding achievements as a director, musical director and promoter of new talents.
“It is a true honor for me to be here, my relationship with the Austrian public has always been extraordinary,” Domingo tells Efe in response to a questionnaire.
The trip to Mozart’s hometown is the Spanish’s first after having recovered from COVID-19 at his home in Acapulco (Mexico). “It has been a very hard year for me and my family,” he confesses.
“I feel good and strong. With a lot of determination and the support of my family, I have regained my physical and vocal strength,” he says.
He regrets cancellations in Spain
While Domingo was celebrated in Austria and this month he will perform in Italy, in Spain the stages of public theaters have been closed to him, something that the tenor has regretted.
The Ministry of Culture and Sports decided in February – following the conclusions of the investigation by the United States Music Artists Union – to cancel the singer’s performances in May at the Teatro de la Zarzuela.
According to the singer, the president of the National Institute of Performing Arts and Music (Inaem) contacted his agent hours before the Minister of Culture, José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, made public the decision to cancel the performances of he.
“We asked that they wait for us to speak directly to me, but their response was that the decision had already been made,” says Domingo.
The musician regrets not having had the opportunity to speak with government representatives and criticizes that “the minister made his decision in a few hours.”
“It hurt me to hear in his statements that he had made the decision solely on the basis of what he had read in the press,” he assures.
The Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid was the first Spanish stage to cancel the tenor’s scheduled performances for last May, in which, in addition, he would have celebrated the 50th anniversary of his debut in the Spanish capital.
“I hope that one day all this becomes clear, Madrid is my city,” says Domingo. And he trusts that time little by little will prove him right: “I have faith that things are clearing up.”
He will never give up music
Although he relates that at some point he may have to withdraw, he stresses that he will never do so from music.
“From the operatic stages it is possible that I have to retire at some point, but I will never retire from music. I will continue singing concerts, I have record projects and I want, above all, to direct,” he explains.
The singer did not want to talk about the harassment accusations, and he limited himself to referring to the interview he gave to the Italian newspaper “La Repubblica” before traveling to Austria.
“The journalist Giuseppe Videtti took the initiative to investigate in detail the outcome of the events and the results of the internal investigations of AGMA (Union of Musical Artists of the United States) and the Los Angeles Opera. I recommend that you read the article “, Domingo suggests to Efe without going into more details.
The tenor defended himself against the accusations in La Repubblica and said that his statements were misinterpreted. “I have never abused anyone, I will repeat it as long as I live,” he told the outlet.
Domingo explains in that newspaper why he has preferred to give interviews to transalpine media: “Because Italy is willing to hug me again and because last year I celebrated the 50th anniversary of my debut at La Scala (in Milan) and at the Arena in Verona” .
The investigation of the Los Angeles Opera, directed by Domingo from 2003 to October 2019, concluded last March that the accusations of sexual harassment of a score of women against him were “credible”.
Performances in Italy and Austria
The tenor is scheduled to perform this month at a musical gala in the city of Caserta, Italy, and in two performances at the Arena in Verona. Shortly after, in September, he will play Simón Boccanegra at the Vienna Opera.
“Until the vaccine is found, the presentations and attendance will not return to normal, but it encourages me to see the initiative of so many institutions and theaters,” explains Domingo.
“We are living a tragic moment for our art. We have seen with sadness how all the theaters of the world have been silenced,” he said, but applauded the rebirth of “hope” with the celebration, in a reduced version, of the Salzburg Festival.
Salzburg was the first stage where Domingo sang – and was applauded – last summer after allegations of sexual harassment were made public.