On the eve of the first performance of Verdi’s Macbeth in the Metropolitan Opera’s 2019–2020 season, the company announced that Plácido Domingo will not sing the title role—nor would he be likely to return to perform at the New York City opera house.
The last-minute casting change follows the publication of multiple allegations against the star singer, in which at least 20 women have cited accounts of sexual harassment and misconduct dating back to the late 1980s. The first wave of allegations were initially reported by the Associated Press August 13.
“While I strongly dispute recent allegations made about me, and I am concerned about a climate in which people are condemned without due process, upon reflection I believe that my appearance in this production of Macbeth would distract from the hard work of my colleagues both onstage and behind the scenes,” Domingo said in a statement provided to The New York Times. “As a result, I have asked to withdraw and I thank the leadership of the Met for graciously granting my request.”
Initially, Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb had stated that the allegations lacked corroboration and no investigative or disciplinary action would take place at the house until outside investigations from Los Angeles Opera (where Domingo serves as general director) and the American Guild of Musical Artists had yielded such results. In a more recent statement, the company now says “the Met and Mr. Domingo are in agreement that he needed to step down.”
His last performance on the Met stage was during the September 21 dress rehearsal for the Verdi opera. He had also slated to appear in the company’s repertory revival of Madama Butterfly this season.
The departure comes a year after the Met had formally cut ties with James Levine, its music director of 40 years. An investigation launched by the Met had found evidence to corroborate the series of sexual abuse and harassment charges against the conductor.
In addition to Domingo, tenor Vittorio Grigolo—a frequent performer at the Met and international opera houses—is also expected to bow out of his upcoming Met engagements (including this season’s La Traviata) as London’s Royal Opera investigates an alleged incident that took place earlier this month.