STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Tomorrow night the curtain rises on a production of Verdi's "Macbeth" at New York's Metropolitan Opera, starring Placido Domingo. The opera megastar has become the focus of allegations of sexual misconduct. Twenty women came forward to the Associated Press, accusing Domingo of groping, unwanted kissing and harassment. The singer has said that he believed all of these interactions over some 30 years were consensual. Two opera companies and a symphony have canceled performances with Domingo, but at The Met, the show goes on.
NPR's Anastasia Tsioulcas has been talking with some of the companies' singers, and she's on the line. Good morning.
ANASTASIA TSIOULCAS, BYLINE: Hi. Good morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: I gather that some people who are to perform with Domingo have been reaching out to you.
TSIOULCAS: Yes, that's right. And the allegations against Domingo arrived not long after The Met's former music director of about 40 years, James Levine, was fired after being accused of sexual abuse by nine men. So a number of Met employees told me they believe that, given that history, this opera has a particular duty to treat sexual misconduct allegations seriously. So four employees spoke to me on the record last week, but they all came forward anonymously. They feared retribution. And they tell me that the power dynamic between Domingo and rank-and-file performers is, in their view, so distorted that it has created an untenable work environment.
One of the sources pointed out to me that, in other situations like this, very often the person being accused is suspended so neither he nor his co-workers have to face each other. And The Met sources also told me, Steve, that there was a whisper network warning women at the house to stay away from him. Some even reportedly changed their work schedules to that end, and they lost out on professional opportunities.
INSKEEP: OK, so you're hearing these stories from inside, from people that I think you said do not want to give their names, but they're telling their stories in detail, and you know who they are.
INSKEEP: Are there investigations of the claims that have been reported by the AP?
TSIOULCAS: After the AP published the women's allegations, the LA Opera, where Domingo has been general director for more than 15 years, said it was launching an investigation. And then earlier this month, one of the unions with members who work in The Met - it's called the American Guild of Musical Artists, or AGMA, and it represents singers, dancers, choreographers and others - they announced that it will be conducting its own independent investigation. And The Met says it will wait for the results of both LA Opera and AGMA's investigations before taking any measures, and those results aren't expected for months.
INSKEEP: Just try to keep all this straight. So we've got multiple opera houses here, multiple companies, multiple accusations. But the central focus here is Placido Domingo performing at The Met. They say they're waiting for the results of the investigations. As they say this, as the performance goes forward, what are you hearing from inside?
TSIOULCAS: Well, Friday afternoon, the head of The Metropolitan Opera, the general manager, Peter Gelb, called a meeting for Saturday to discuss employees' concerns after we published an article on Friday about all this. And he met with Met chorus singers and orchestra musicians to discuss their anger.
And they're - the four sources told me - again, anonymously, for fear of retribution - that a number of employees at that meeting told The Met's general manager that they felt there was a big disconnect in how HR policy is being applied in sexual misconduct allegations. In short, they said to me they feel like allegations from men are being taken seriously, but not those from women.
INSKEEP: Very briefly - what is The Met saying?
TSIOULCAS: The Met declined an interview but sent me a statement that says, in part, quote, "There is currently no corroborated evidence against Mr. Domingo."
INSKEEP: Although the AP has reported differently. Anastasia, thank you so much.
TSIOULCAS: My pleasure, Steve. Thanks for having me.
INSKEEP: NPR's Anastasia Tsioulcas.
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