- Scandal: Nine women accuse Plácido Domingo of sexual harassment
The case of Plácido Domingo is the last on the list of accusations of sexual harassment in the world of classical music and opera. A movement that began with the complaint against James Levine , director emeritus of the Metropolitan Opera of New York (MET), at the end of 2017, in the middle of the #MeToo explosion. However, the story starts much earlier.
You could say that the orchestra podium has been a symbol of power from which the directors have exercised as demiurges of musical art. That, in some cases, has also translated into an absence of limits for the exercise of seducers or sexual predators. An example is Herbert Von Karajan (1908-1989), whose figure appears surrounded by the aura of genius, but also by the despot and satrap who did what he wanted and when he wanted (how to align with the Nazis), protected by the mantle of the supreme good that was the sublimation of music.
The promiscuity of other orchestra conductors is known, but, in the case of Karajan, we must add the chains of favors and reprisals to the then very few women who were part of the orchestras under their baton. Another element to add is the absence of complaints by those affected, due to the feeling of impunity and the pact of silence around these behaviors.
But time has passed and the aura has not been enough to protect them on their podiums. First it was Robert King , English director who in 2007 was sentenced to four years in jail for sexually abusing five boys, tr is under 16 years old, between 1982 and 1995. All of them had a musical relationship with King: in some cases They were part of the choirs with which the director worked. After leaving prison, King said: "I have accepted my sentence and paid my debt to society."
James Levine has not yet set foot in jail , but his case continues to develop in court. After a police investigation, the MET dismissed the director for "sexual abuse and harassment behaviors before and during the period he worked" at that institution. Then, the names of some of the victims appeared (multi-instrumentalist Ashok Pai, double bass player and professor Chris Brown, cellist James Lestock and violinist Albin Ifsich), although the circumstances of others were also detailed, such as a 15-year-old boy He suffered abuse for several years or another that, studying at a Michigan music school run by Levine, received his visit at dawn, who masturbated before him. Levine has always denied the accusations and even just denounced the Metropolitan Opera for defamation, claiming more than five million euros in compensation.
Just a month after Levine's case jumped in January 2018, Swiss Charles Dutoit left his post at the head of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London , after six women pointed him out for "inappropriate behavior." One of them, the retired mezzo-soprano Paula Rasmussen, then recounted how Dutoit once assaulted her: "He threw me against the wall, brought my hand to his crotch and stuck his tongue in my throat." Other testimonies were similar: groping, kisses not required ... "While informal physical contact is common in the art world as a mutual gesture of friendship, serious accusations involving coercion and forced physical contact have absolutely no basis. in truth, "said the defendant at the time.
The penultimate of this list is the Italian Daniele Gatti who just a year ago, in August 2018, was fired by the Amsterdam Concertgebouw after a Washington Post news with equally graphic testimonies. The soprano Alicia Bernache was visited by Gatti for a private rehearsal at the Chicago opera: "But once inside her dressing room I found her hands on my ass and her tongue in my throat."
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