World-renowned Spanish opera singer Plácido Domingo made a triumphant return to the stage in Spain in June after an absence of almost two years, receiving a long standing ovation. The 80-year-old baritone / tenor last performed in his home country in 2019, before launching a #MeToo-style witch hunt against him that year.
Popular enthusiasm for the singer’s return contrasts sharply with the attitude of the “left-wing populist” Podemos party, which governs in Spain in coalition with the Spanish Social Democratic Party (PSOE). Politicians in Podemos have launched a vicious campaign denouncing Domingo’s appearance and the positive reception he received as an insult to women.
On Twitter, Irene Montero, the Equality Minister of the PSOE-Podemos government and partner of the former Podemos leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias, condemned the applause for Domingo, writing: “Why is there there people who feel the need to loudly applaud a man? who admitted to sexually abusing various women? This is a reference to the singer’s “apologies” at the start of last year.
“Even those who think the answer shouldn’t be public contempt must understand that he [the response] let alone be a standing ovation, ”Montero continued. “Above all, I would like them to [the supporters of Domingo] to wonder what message this sends to women and sexually assaulted people every day in our country. Because these are the same people who are then surprised when women do not file a complaint for fear of not being believed.
Domingo sang at a sold-out charity concert at the National Auditorium in Madrid on June 9, titled “#VoicesRespond”. The event was organized by Domingo and the non-profit cultural association Fundación Excelentia, to help the Red Cross. Funds raised at the gala went to the Red Cross pandemic response program.
The singer performed “Nemico della patria” from the opera by Umberto Giordano Andréa Chénier, “Madamigella Valéry” by Giuseppe Verdi La Traviata and “El dúo de La Africana” by Manuel Fernández Caballero, among others, to tumultuous applause.
At the end of his performance, the clearly emotional Domingo received a standing ovation of nearly eight minutes from all 1,620 people and concluded the concert with about five recalls, by popular demand, according to media reports. The theater was at the maximum capacity allowed by current restrictions on coronaviruses in the Madrid region.
A day later, Domingo received a prestigious award at the Teatro Real (Royal Theater), Madrid’s main opera house. The title of “Honorary Ambassador of the World Heritage of Spain” was awarded to the singer by the Association for the Dissemination and Promotion of the World Heritage of Spain (ADIPROPE).
Despite attempts by the media and the identity-obsessed upper middle class to stir up a climate of lynching against Domingo, the warm reception he found in Madrid demonstrates the failure of the #MeToo campaign to win over ground among workers and significant sections of the middle class in Spain and abroad. The undemocratic and destructive methods of this movement arouse widespread mistrust or disgust.
The sexual misconduct campaign against Domingo was launched in 2019 with two Associated Press (AP) articles, in which 20 women, including 18 anonymously, accused the singer of inappropriate behavior. Some of the allegations, which ranged from inappropriate displays of affection to unwanted touching, repeated requests for meetings and late-night phone calls, dated back almost 30 years.
When asked in an interview with NPR if she had suffered “professional disadvantages” because she “repeatedly rejected Domingo”, retired opera singer Patricia Wulf, the only person named by name in the first article of the AP, replied: “No, I did not. t. I have not suffered anything in my career. It was actually interesting: he and the company kept hiring me. And it was great. “
There is nothing legitimate or progressive about the campaign of scandals targeting Domingo. The allegations against him are completely unfounded and, to date, the singer has not been charged with any crime. But solely on the basis of these anonymous, unproven and spurious allegations, many of which are little more than accusations of persistent flirtation, Domingo transformed into a persona non grata almost overnight.
Many American cultural institutions, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the San Francisco Opera and the Los Angeles Opera, immediately canceled scheduled performances of Domingo in their halls and severed all relations with the singer. None of them bothered to investigate the allegations before taking these steps.
While the witch-hunt against Domingo didn’t have as much of an effect in Europe – with the singer continuing to perform in cities like Berlin, Vienna and Verona, Italy to public acclaim – in the home country in Domingo, Spain, a number of the concert halls have also blacklisted Domingo by order of the PSOE-Podemos government.
Following the February 2020 findings of the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) that Domingo had “engaged in inappropriate activity” and the singer’s subsequent “apologies”, PSOE Culture Minister José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, canceled the role of Domingo in Federico Moreno Torroba’s light opera. Luisa Fernanda at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid, which was scheduled for mid-May 2020.
Last March, another prominent Spanish artistic institution, the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, withdrew Domingo’s name from its training center for young artists. The Palau de les Arts added that it “has decided to waive any future contractual relations [with Domingo]In response to the AGMA report. A music association in Úbeda in southern Spain has also canceled a scheduled performance of Domingo in May.
In response to the AGMA report, Domingo issued an “apology” expressing regret for any pain he may have caused the alleged victims. “I accept full responsibility for my actions,” the singer explained, “and I have grown from this experience.”
“I now understand that some women may have feared speaking up honestly because they feared their careers would be affected if they did. Although it was never my intention, no one should ever feel this way. Domingo was also forced to withdraw from five performances planned in Verdi La Traviata at the Teatro Real following the AGMA report.
Culture Minister Uribes used Domingo’s statement as an excuse to step up the offensive against him, cynically stating: “Since he [Domingo] wanted to take responsibility, our duty was to respond. So this is not the time for him to participate in the program. [at the Teatro de la Zarzuela], and this is what we decided based on the facts recognized by him.
Faced with the escalation of the campaign against him, Domingo then retracted his “apologies”, insisting that his comments had been taken out of context and that he was not guilty of abuse or mistreatment. “It was not a mea culpa ”, Domingo said in September. “My apologies were published by an American newspaper with false accusations that do not appear in the official report,” said the singer, referring to an investigation which had been carried out by the Los Angeles Opera.
The #MeToo witch hunt against Domingo and many others has nothing to do with principled opposition to sexual abuse. The launch of the #MeToo witch hunt is linked to the fierce competition between layers of the upper middle class for positions and privileges in universities, media and cultural institutions. Montero herself is a poster for this, having posed for Vanity Show to exhibit the luxury clothes and decorations to which she had access as Minister of “Equality”.
Additionally, #MeToo’s petty-bourgeois gender politics serves to shape a fraudulent “progressive” veneer for the right-wing policies of the PSOE-Podemos government. Montero and his fellow ministers oversaw a disastrous response to the pandemic resulting in more than 100,000 needless deaths, while stepping up austerity measures against the working class. They also brutally cracked down on protests against their undemocratic policies and intensified internet censorship.
The PSOE and Podemos also implemented a fascist anti-migrant policy, resulting in an upsurge in violence against migrants in Spain and reports of sexual abuse of dozens of minors in the migrant concentration camps run by the PSOE. -Podemos. Despite all their indignation at the message that Domingo’s performance “sends to women”, Podemos does not shed a tear for these victims of sexual and physical violence. Indeed, much like the Domingo witch hunt, the mass detention and abuse of migrants serves the privileged class interests of the middle strata for which Podemos speaks.