Ovation for accused Placido Domingo

Placido Domingo received a standing ovation at the Salzburg Festival.
Placido Domingo received a standing ovation at the Salzburg Festival.

Placido Domingo has received a standing ovation as he took to the stage at the Salzburg Festival in a concerted show of support at his first performance since nine women accused him of sexual harassment.

Domingo and his co-stars in a concert of Verdi's tragic opera Luisa Miller all shared in 10 minutes of applause at the end of the show on Sunday - but a standing ovation at the start of the show was for the 78-year-old opera legend alone.

The singers walked out single file and the applause intensified as Domingo, second to last, appeared from behind the curtain, growing to a crescendo until most of the house was on its feet.

"Wonderful public, good performance all, I mean so much love from the public," Domingo said after the show as he signed autographs at a side entrance for dozens of fans, many whom said they have followed the opera legend for decades.

The Domingo accusations have divided the opera world.

Two US opera houses immediately cancelled planned appearances. European opera houses have so far confirmed engagements scheduled through November 2020, in what some see as an effort to slow a perceived rush to judgment in the #MeToo movement.

At the Salzburg Festival, the divide was largely viewed as geographical, with many seeing the seeing the case as a virulent form of particularly American political correctness and expressing outrage that US engagements had been cancelled without any judicial evidence of the claims, and with eight of the accusers maintaining anonymity.

Domingo received unwavering support from the festival, as well as his co-stars. Both soprano Nino Machaidze and tenor Piotr Beczala praised Domingo and the audience for their support as they greeted fans after the show.

The AP story published last week detailed extensive allegations of sexual harassment by nine women against Domingo that spanned decades, starting in the 1980s. The women accused Domingo of using his power at the LA Opera, where he has been the longtime general director, and elsewhere to try to pressure them into sexual relationships.

Several of the woman said he dangled jobs and then sometimes punished them professionally if they refused his advances. Allegations included repeated phone calls, invitations to hotel rooms and his apartment, and unwanted touching and kisses.

In a statement to the AP, Domingo called the allegations "deeply troubling and, as presented inaccurate" and said he believed his interactions with the women to be consensual.

Australian Associated Press