Spanish conductor and opera singer Placido Domingo has led a long, illustrious career, performing over 100 complete operas in some of the most famous opera houses in the world. His operatic performances, versatility (he can switch between singing Italian, French, German, Spanish, English, and Russian at the drop of a hat) and personal life have always been beyond reproach… until August 2019, that is, when a string of women stepped forward to accuse Domingo of sexual harassment. It’s since been alleged that Domingo’s inappropriate advances towards women have been an open secret for years… something the opera star (naturally enough) flatly denies. In response to the allegations, several music companies have canceled planned appearances by the former golden boy, while the Los Angeles opera has confirmed it will launch an investigation into the allegations. Here, we take a quick glance into 10 facts about the troubled star.
1. His response to the allegations is drawing fire
As the Los Angeles Times has noted, Domingo’s response to the allegations (which has constituted a mix of half-apology, half excuse) has done to help the situation. As we’ve already learned by other offenders caught up in the #MeToo movement, the cardinal sin when it comes to formulating a response is saying anything along the lines of “they were different times” … which is basically what Domingo has done. “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,” he said in a statement to the AP. His vain attempt at damage control has met with an icy response in most quarters, with Ian Barnard, an English professor at Chapman University and longtime subscriber to the LA opera, telling the LA Times, “We’re talking about sexual harassment. Even 30 years ago, sexual harassment was not OK.”
2. He’s got the backing of Spain
At the time of writing, Domingo’s supporters are dropping like flies, but it seems he can still count on the support of his native countrymen. Numerous performers from around the country have been emphatic in their defense of the opera singer, while the Palace of Arts in Valencia has confirmed that unlike certain other institutions (which dropped Domingo like a bad smell as soon as the news surfaced), they would plow ahead with upcoming performances later this year in order to “preserve the presumption of innocence.”
3. He’s released the best-selling classical album of all time
Domingo may be in deep waters at the moment, but you can’t deny he’s achieved some great things over the years. His success as a soloist has been significant enough, but some of his key achievements have come in collaboration with others. His 1981 duet with country artist John Denver, for example, has sold almost 4 million copies since its release, while his first album with fellow tenors Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carrera as The Three Tenors is the bestselling classical album of all time.
4. He’s won 14 Grammys
Domingo has won multiple awards and accolades over the course of his career and has the distinct honor of being a 14-time Grammy award winner, an achievement few from any genre of music (let alone classical) can match. The plaudits don’t stop there… in 2006, he was on the receiving end of a Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music, while in 2012, he was voted into Gramophone’s first Hall of Fame
5. He founded The World Opera Competition
Throughout his career, Domingo has worked extensively at developing opportunities for young talent. In 1993, he took his plans to the next level by founding Operalia, The World Opera Competition, an annual international competition for Opera’s next generation of stars. Past winners of the competition (which awards the winner with the chance to perform with some of the top opera ensembles in the world) have included Joseph Calleja, Joyce DiDonato, Erwin Schrott, Giuseppe Filianoti, and José Cura.
6. He’s a noted philanthropist
Domingo has contributed extensively to charitable causes over the years, performing at multiple benefit concerts, releasing charity albums and contributing vast sums to various humanitarian causes. His contribution to the victims of the 1985 Mexico City earthquake was considered noteworthy enough to justify a statue in his likeness. The statue, which stands at two meters tall and weighs 600lb) was created in Mexico City by Alejandra Zúñiga out of keys donated by the city’s residents.
7. He’s a published author
Over the years, Domingo has written numerous publications, starting back in September 1983 with the autobiographical My First Forty Years. Since then, he’s released Jacqueline du Pré: Impressions (1983), Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera (1994), Christmas With Plácido Domingo: Trumpets Sound And Angels Sing (1994), Bajo el Cielo Español (Under the Spanish Sky) (1997), Plácido Domingo: Por Amor (1999), The Zarzuela Companion (2003), Plácido Domingo: My Operatic Roles (2003), Leoncavallo: Life and Works (2007), and So When Does the Fat Lady Sing? (2007).
8. He’s had a puppet named after him
As Domingo’s celebrity began to take off in the 1980s, he began to be referenced more and more in popular culture. In 1987, he achieved the ultimate accolade of having a puppet named after him in the enduringly popular Sesame Street. During one episode of the show in 1989, Domingo even appeared alongside his namesake (a pink singing bird named Placido Flamingo) for a performance of “Look through the Window”.
9. He was the voice of Montezuma
Domingo isn’t just a star of the stage- over the past 3 decades, he’s also starred in numerous big-screen productions. In 2008, he lent his famous vocal talents to Montezuma, a long-haired Chihuahua in Disney’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Other notable screen appearances include his performance as Alberto Santiago on The Cosby Show.
10. He’s a multi-millionaire
You’d expect someone whose career has spanned over 6 decades and has included some of the most significant performances of all time to have accrued a healthy fortune by now… and you’d be right. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the opera singer is worth an astonishing $300 million.