Spain ministry cancels Placido Domingo's participation in Madrid show over sexual harassment scandal

A 2018 photo showsPlacido Domingo speaking during an event at the Manhattan School of Music in New York. PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID (AFP) - Spain's culture ministry on Wednesday (Feb 26) cancelled opera star Placido Domingo's participation in an upcoming Madrid show, a day after he accepted "full responsibility" in a sexual harassment scandal.

The culture ministry's National Institute for Scenic Art and Music (INAEM) said it had called off Domingo's participation in two performances of "Luisa Fernanda", a Spanish "zarzuela" or operetta, at Madrid's prestigious Zarzuela Theatre slated for May 14 and 15 "in solidarity with the affected women".

It is the first time that a performance by the 79-year-old has been called off in his native Spain since he was accused by 20 women last year of forcibly kissing, grabbing or fondling them, in incidents dating back to at least the 1980s.

So far, Domingo's career has been less affected by the scandal in Europe than in the United States.

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 US career.

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.

The singer - who has been a director and conductor at some of the world's most prestigious opera houses - on Tuesday apologised for "the hurt" caused to his accusers.

"I accept full responsibility for my actions," he said in a statement.

"I have taken time over the last several months to reflect on the allegations that various colleagues of mine have made against me," added Domingo, who was one of the most recognised tenors of the 20th century but has since transformed himself into a baritone.

Domingo had previously denied the allegations, referring to them variously as "inaccurate" and saying all his interactions and relationships were "always welcomed and consensual".

The culture ministry body said the performances of "Luisa Fernanda", composed in 1932 and set against the revolutionary struggles in Madrid in the 1900s, would go ahead without Domingo.

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