Sonya Yoncheva, Javier Camarena, Major European Opera Stars Come To Plácido Domingo’s Defense

By Francisco Salazar

Editor’s Note: This piece has been edited as statements have come out regarding the situation. 

Following accusations of sexual harassment, numerous opera personalities have come in defense of Plácido Domingo.

In the wake of accusations by nine women, opera stars have taken to Twitter, Instagram, and news outlets to defend their colleague. Among them is Bulgarian superstar soprano Sonya Yoncheva who  stated via instagram, “A real gentleman, philanthropist, artist, charming and peaceful human being, who is devoted to the new generation of singers in the most humble and respectful way.”

Meanwhile, Mexican tenor Javier Camarena stated, “Maestro Domingo: You know how much I appreciate and admire you. You have my eternal gratitude for your kindness and your always beautiful words regarding my work. I pray to God for the peace in your heart, may his arms embrace and protect your family in this moments of storm.”

Legendary mezzo Teresa Berganza spoke with the press and noted that no one has the write to judge someone in public and noted that she was upset because he is a good friend.

Soprano Olga Peretyatko also released a statement noting “I will always remember that day in Hamburg in 2007, when he has nicely accepted to listen 3 arias (30min of his precious time between the rehearsals) from the unknown girl from operastudio, and they were so nice and encouraging to me with his friend and assistent, Mr.Hoffstötter, that day he invited me to participate in Operalia, where I won the 2.Prize.  He was always an example for me!”

Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja and Italian conductor Riccardo Frizza also showed their support by tweeting out a picture and questioning why accuser Patricia Wulf’s LinkedIn page has her mentioning Domingo’s name under her professional profile. “Prior to real estate, I was fortunate enough to sing opera as a soloist, with some of today’s most famous artists including Placido Domingo and Mirella Freni,” says the profile‘s first sentence.

Spanish soprano Ainhoa Arteta went on record to the Spanish press noting, “I know he is not a stalker (of women), he would (rather) put his hand in the fire” while Mexican tenor Arturo Chacón Cruz posted on his social media a message of support that stated, “For the past 20 years I have had the privilege and honor of sharing the stage with a remarkable artist: my teacher, mentor and friend, Plácido Domingo. In all these years, I have only seen him to be a generous, kind and respectful person, and a wonderful artistic guide.”

Frequent collaborator Ana Maria Martinez shared a statement with El Nuevo Dia stating, “Always, and in particular in this day and age, women’s voices, all voices deserve and need to be heard and given the platform to express their truth. I have known Maestro Plácido Domingo and have worked with him for over 23 years. He has always been a gentleman and treated me with dignity and respect.”

Guitarist Pablo Sainz Villegas also released a statement noting, “He has always brought inspiration to me through his light and humanity. As many other musicians and singers, I feel grateful to consider him my mentor and friend. By his side, working together with him, my approach to the art of music has been elevated.”

Mezzo-soprano Nancy Fabiola Herrera also questioned the validity of the accusations asking why the women would go to the press instead of the law and why Patricia Wulf used Domingo as a reference on her Linkedin page (it should be noted that since this piece was published, Wulf’s LinkedIn profile has been altered). She also noted that she had been propositioned but as a young girl she learned to defend herself and use the word no.


Ermonela Jaho noted, “I have had the honor and privilege of singing with Maestro Placido Domingo in several production and concerts all over the world. Aside from the being a legendary and magnificent artist who has made an incomparable contribution to the world of music, and not just through his own performances but also through his deep dedication to the development of generations of young singers, Maestro Domingo has always been not only the most gracious and consummate of colleagues, but also always the most elegant and impeccably respectful of gentlemen. I will always treasure the memory of every artistic experience we have shared together.”

Barbara Frittoli also added her own statement via Facebook in which she noted that like in any work environment, someone might make a joke or cross the line or even make inappropriate physical contact. “If it goes beyond that, there is a keyword one must use – NO! And then you can continue being friends,” she wrote. She noted that it is now dangerous to be famous and that it is impossible to do what “normal” people do because you are then judged as guilty.

“I have sung many works with Plácido,” the Italian soprano added, noting how many activities she has experienced with maestro, including dinner with him and his wife. “Sincerely, I have never seen him blackmail anyone to obtain sexual favors. I don’t think he ever needed to do that. He is a powerful man in our world. Maybe some people are upset by that fact.”

Elisabette Matos, who worked on the production of “Le Cid” with Angela Turner and Domingo noted, “Firstly I don’t like meddling with aspects of other people’s private lives. I can only speak for myself and [Domingo] was always a gentleman with me, a very generous person who treated me and helped me with utmost respect. Another thing I can say is that we live in a supposedly democratic world where there is the presumption of innocence, and public judgements that are not made in a proper place always bring more negative than positive situations. I think he is, was and will continue to be a great artist in our memories, and I hope with all my heart and affection I have for him as a colleague and person who at some point admired my work and invited me to various occasions, that all this will be resolved and clarified. I can’t say more than this because each case is an individual case while there are things I find hard to believe. I will not judge the other party who complains about a situation that might have been less correct. But I doubt it. The person I know is not like that. But I stress, trials should not be made in the public square, but only in the places of law and with evidence and with a presumption of innocence.”

The legendary soprano Anna Tomoa-Sintow also added her support for Domingo stating, “Over the many years of our artistic collaboration I have always experienced Placido Domingo to be a wonderful human being and an absolutely impeccable partner on stage, as well as a great and tremendously devoted artist. His purpose in life is and always has been to serve music and the arts.”

Sopranos and mezzo-sopranos Anna Netrebko, Veronica Villaroel, Aida Garifullina, Kristina Mkhitaryan, Adela Zaharia, Hui He, Violetta Urmana, Maria Guleghina, Maria Mudryak, Irina Lungu, Annalisa Stroppa, Ketevan Kemoklidze, Nino Machaidze, Anna Pirozzi, Davinia Rodriguez, Saioa Hernandez, Maria Jose Siri,  Marina Krilovici, Maria Katzarava, Mariola Cantonero, and Virginia Tola and tenor Rame Lahaj also showed their support by posting collages on Instagram and writing about his character and stating what gentlemen he was. Maestro Nicola Luisotti also added his voice of support as well as principal dancer of the Wiener Staatsoper Ludmila Konovaklova, conductor Jordi Bernàcer, violinist Abouzahra Mariam, tenors Francesco Meli, Charles Castronovo, and Jorge de Leon, chorister Stefan Tanzer, and baritones George Petean, Juan Carlos Heredia, and Massimo Cavalletti. Sir Bryn Terfel also added his support to the legendary singer.

Other singers who have come out in defense include Paloma San Basilio and Pilar Jurado as well as recent Operalia contestants Adriana Gonzalez and Mario Rojas.

Americans Won’t Stand in Line

However, not all singers have stood in line with their colleagues as numerous American (and only American) artists spoke out against Domingo. Tenor Paul Appleby questioned the Twitterverse and asked that the women who have accused Domingo be given the same treatment as the veteran singer.

(UPDATE: Here is Paul Appleby’s latest tweet regarding his prior comments: “Regarding my comments about Placido Domingo and the AP article, I just want to clarify that I, too, am a huge admirer of Maestro Domingo as a singer, musician, artist, philanthropist, etc. He was incredibly generous and kind to me personally when I performed with him and it meant a great deal to me. But none of those things changes the fact that the behavior he is accused of in the article is reprehensible. He deserves the right to defend himself, and I have made no statement expressing my opinion about how anyone should respond to the accusations. But I do think that the accusers must not be summarily dismissed (and certainly not mocked and harassed in the disgusting way I’ve seen many—including some of my colleagues—do). I want to question the positions of these people who seem to want to silence or discredit the accusers instead of confronting the possibility that the accusations may be true. Me keeping silent as I watch the accusers be disparaged does nothing to change a culture in which abusers often act with impunity, and that is not a culture I want to be a part of.”)

Additionally, baritone Samuel Schultz and soprano Aliana de la Guardia have condemned Domingo’s actions.

The different reactions reflect many of the attitudes taken by organizations. Only American companies such as the Philadelphia Orchestra and San Francisco Opera have sought to cut ties with Domingo while the European organizations, especially the Salzburg Festival, have stood behind Domingo with an “innocent until proven guilty” stance.

Other companies that are set to feature Domingo on their 2019-20 slate, including the Metropolitan Opera, LA Opera, Hamburg State Opera, Zurich Opera House, and Dallas Opera, are awaiting the results of LA Opera’s investigation into Domingo’s behavior as General Manager before taking any action.