Spain takes first European moves against Plácido Domingo

FILE - In this May 23, 2007, file photo, Placido Domingo, general director of the Washington National Opera, speaks during a news conference in Washington about a simulcast of a performance of La Boheme. An investigation into Domingo by the U.S. union representing opera performers found more than two dozen people who said they were sexually harassed or witnessed inappropriate behavior by the superstar when he held senior management positions at Washington National Opera and Los Angeles Opera, according to people familiar with the findings. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

MADRID – The Spanish government said Wednesday it was canceling two upcoming performances by Plácido Domingo in Madrid to show support for the women who have accused him of misconduct and take a stand against sexual harassment, becoming the first in Europe to cancel on the megastar since since allegations surfaced last year in the United States.

Spain’s Culture Ministry said that “given the seriousness of the deeds,” and “in solidarity with women affected,” together with Domingo’s declarations of responsibility earlier this week, it had canceled his part in “Luisa Fernanda” at the Teatro de la Zarzuela light opera house in mid-May.

The ministry's announcement came a day after the main U.S. union representing opera performers said its investigators found the opera star had behaved inappropriately over the course of two decades when he held senior management positions at Washington National Opera and Los Angeles Opera.

In response to the findings, Domingo issued a statement saying that he accepted “full responsibility" for his actions and was “truly sorry for the hurt" that he had caused women.

Domingo’s response marked a stunning reversal from the opera superstar’s initial statements in which he had denied wrongdoing.

The cancellation Wednesday was particularly notable because Domingo, who was born in Spain, is one of the country's most popular and respected stars. Many people came to his defense in Spain and across Europe when the charges first emerged last year and U.S. companies took swift action to distance themselves from Domingo by canceling his appearances or announcing he had withdrawn.

Spanish Culture Minister José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes said, "Given that he (Domingo) wanted to take responsibility, our duty was to respond to that. Therefore, it is not the time for him to take part in the program, and that’s what we have decided in line with the facts admitted by him.”

“Until now the situation was different, there was a presumption of innocence," said Rodríguez Uribes. "But since the moment he said that what happened did indeed happen, and given that this is a situation with serious events that affect many women, we have decided that it wasn’t appropriate to keep his presence and we informed him.”