Apology gave 'false impression', Domingo says amid backlash in Spain
Scandal-hit opera star Placido Domingo on Thursday rowed back on an apology he made over sexual harassment allegations just two days earlier, after his mea culpa triggered a backlash and cancellations in Spain.
The 79-year-old, who faces multiple allegations of sexual harassment, apologised for "the hurt" caused to his accusers on Tuesday, saying he accepted "full responsibility" for his actions.
But the Spanish megastar on Thursday insisted his words had been misunderstood.
"I feel I have to issue another statement to correct the false impression generated by my apology," said the storied tenor-turned-baritone whose earlier statement had said he was "truly sorry" without specifically confirming any of the allegations.
At least 20 women have accused Domingo of forcibly kissing, grabbing or fondling them in incidents dating back to the 1980s, and on Tuesday, the AGMA union said an internal probe found he had engaged in a pattern of "inappropriate activity".
In his statement on Thursday Domingo said he was withdrawing from "La Traviata" at Madrid's Teatro Real and would do the same with any theatre or opera house "that might have difficulties" with his presence.
"I know what I haven't done and I will deny it again. I never behaved aggressively with anyone and I have never done anything to obstruct or impede anyone's career," he said.
On the contrary, over his five decades in opera he had worked "to promote the career of a myriad of singers".
"My apology was sincere and from the bottom of my heart to any colleagues whom I could have hurt in any way by something I said or did. As I have demonstrated on many occasions, it was never my intention to hurt or offend anyone."
- A Spanish backlash -
While the scandal had already effectively ended Domingo's US career, he had been less affected in Europe until this week.
However after Tuesday's report and apology things began to move rapidly in his native Spain, with the culture ministry cancelling his appearance in two May performances at Madrid's Zarzuela Theatre "in solidarity with the affected women".
"Until now, the situation was different, there was a presumption of innocence," Culture Minister Jose Manuel RodrÃguez Uribes told reporters on Wednesday.
"But at the point when he said it actually happened -- and we're talking about serious incidents involving many women -- we decided we couldn't go ahead with him present and we told him."
Madrid's Teatro Real confirmed Thursday that Domingo would not be participating in any of its upcoming performances of Verdi's "La Traviata".
"Placido Domingo will not be participating in the next production of La Traviata in May," a theatre statement said, its website showing he was to have performed five times between 9-23 May.
"The Teatro Real reaffirms its policy of zero tolerance towards harassment and abuse of any nature, and its continuing solidarity with the victims."
The prestigious Ubeda festival of international music and dance in southern Spain on Thursday cancelled Domingo's appearance on May 3 in light of Tuesday's "informative events".
The Palau de Les Arts opera house and cultural centre in the coastal city of Valencia also said it was dropping his name from its opera studio, the Placido Domingo Centre for Advanced Training, and would no longer be working with him.
- 'Predatory behaviour' -
The accusations first began to surface in August. Two months later, Domingo stepped down from the Los Angeles Opera and from all future performances at New York's Metropolitan Opera.
Several women said Domingo tried to pressure them into sexual relationships by dangling jobs, and then sometimes punished them professionally when they refused his advances.
In a statement published on Tuesday, Domingo's accusers called for him to be expelled from the AGMA union, saying it would send a "clear message".
"Even though the industry failed to protect us from misogynist and predatory behaviour, an expulsion from the union would signal that the industry is learning from its mistakes and that sexual harassment and abuse... will not be tolerated," said Patricia Wulf and Angela Turner.
Domingo's statement came a day after former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was convicted of rape and sexual assault in a case that sparked a global reckoning over men who abuse positions of power.
One of the most recognised tenors of the 20th century, Domingo has been a director and conductor at some of the world's most prestigious opera houses.
Since the allegations emerged, the singer has performed in Austria, Hungary and Russia and still has a string of upcoming concerts in place, including one in Hamburg next month, with the Vienna opera in June and at Austria's prestigious Salzburg Festival in August.
In a statement, festival organisers said they wanted to obtain "a comprehensive picture of the progress of the investigations in the United States" before taking a decision on the matter.
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