Prominent figures in the local classical music scene on Tuesday lambasted opera star Placido Domingo following allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct leveled at the famed singer and conductor by nine women.
“I’m not surprised at the allegations against @PlacidoDomingo,” tweeted soprano vocalist Aliana de la Guardia, the co-founder of the Boston-based Guerilla Opera. “A couple years ago when my #metoo story was published many people confided to me their stories. That included stories about him blocking women from singing in big houses like La Scala, etc. if they didn’t mess around.”
She added that the “industry is littered with instances like this. He’s at the top. But what about the people in the middle. The people with middle-of-the-road power who provide enough work to locals, so much that if they hear something or experience something they won’t speak up.”
Her words were echoed by classical guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan, an internationally touring performer who lectures at UMass Boston and previously taught at the Boston Conservatory.
“He did it. Let him fall,” Larget-Caplan tweeted.
He wrote that Domingo “should be punished. If not legally then in the arts.” In addition, he tweeted, “I was surprised that he didn’t say anything about his cultural heritage allowing such behavior. I’ve heard that quite a bit in my area.”
Larget-Caplan and de la Guardia were reacting to a bombshell Associated Press story detailing allegations by eight singers and a dancer who told the AP they were sexually harassed by Domingo during encounters dating back to the late 1980s.
One accuser said Domingo stuck his hand down her skirt and three others said he forced wet kisses on their lips — in a dressing room, a hotel room, and at a lunch meeting.
Domingo said in a statement that it’s “painful to hear that I may have upset anyone or made them feel uncomfortable — no matter how long ago and despite my best intentions. I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual. People who know me or who have worked with me know that I am not someone who would intentionally harm, offend, or embarrass anyone.
“However, I recognize that the rules and standards by which we are — and should be — measured against today are very different than they were in the past. I am blessed and privileged to have had a more than 50-year career in opera and will hold myself to the highest standards.’’
Larget-Caplan also replied to a tweet from Washington Post classical music critic Anne Midgette, who wrote that the “challenge in this story would have been to get people to speak on the record, since he is so powerful that women remain terrified of coming forward. I thought it very telling that all but one of the sources remained anonymous.”
Larget-Caplan responded, “The fear is real.”
When another tweeter asked if “this is also how male singers have to climb the career ladder,” Larget-Caplan replied, “Not just singers.”
Larget-Caplan’s accolades in the music world are numerous.
The Colorado native and New England Conservatory graduate has “performed solo and chamber music in Russia, Europe, and across the United States including El Palacio de Linares (Madrid, Spain), Yelagin and Sheremetev Palaces and the St. Petersburg Conservatory (Russia), Mantova Chamber Music Festival, Corte Eremo and Castillo de Galeazza (Italy), Crocker Art Museum (Sacramento, CA) and [Boston’s] Jordan Hall,” his bio on his website says.
His bio says that recent “collaborators include the Rimsky-Korsakov and New England String Quartets, Boston Lyric Opera, Schola Cantorum of Boston, Musica Sacra, New Holland Ensemble (Russia), violinists Irina Muresanu and Sharan Leventhal, and cellist Rafael Popper-Keizer.”
De la Guardia has also enjoyed success in the industry.
Her online biography says she “has produced many newly commissioned operas with lead roles tailor-made for her ferocious stage presence. Recent projects include the premiere of Hannah Lash’s Beowulf, in which she enraptured audiences with her ‘beautiful fragility and strength,’ (I Care If You Listen) and the newly released Loose, Wet, Perforated by Nicholas Vines on Navona Records, an evocative opera in which de la Guardia ‘struts her stuff’ (Opera News).”
She’s been on the small screen, too.
“De la Guardia has also . . . been featured on television guest starring in the episode entitled ‘Missing” in the second season of ABC’s ‘Body of Proof,’ ” her bio on her website says. “As an educator, she has been a featured artist at Harvard University, Lawrence Conservatory, Vermont College of Fine Arts, University of Memphis, and served on the performance faculty at Hubbard Hall Opera Theater for three seasons.”
She tweeted Tuesday that a number of other men in the classical music world are guilty of misconduct.
“I’m always happy when one of the heavy weights gets taken down,” she wrote. “But they are just the tip of the iceberg. . . . There are too many factors that lead to that kind of abuse, but we can fight. I made a moral commitment as an artist. There are some people I won’t work for. It’s hard & risky, but if I accept the dirty money, then I’m part of the problem. And I have a real problem with that.”