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Plácido Domingo linked to criminal ring in Argentina, prosecutors say

Opera star Plácido Domingo, performing at a concert in Marbella, Spain on July 11.
Jorge Guerrero
AFP via Getty Images
Opera star Plácido Domingo, performing at a concert in Marbella, Spain on July 11.

Prosecutors in Argentina have linked disgraced opera star Plácido Domingo to a criminal group in Buenos Aires that was a front for sexual trafficking, including of minors, as well as other crimes.

Last week, police conducted 50 raids against the BA Group, which operated under the name Buenos Aires Yoga School, and 19 people were arrested.

Numerous broadcast channels in Latin America have been airing excerpts of audio recordings, obtained by wiretap, that include the voice of a man who authorities claim is Domingo making plans with members of the alleged criminal ring. The dates of these wiretap recordings have not been made public.

Since 2019 more than 20 women have come forward publicly with misconduct claims against Domingo. As a result of those accusations, Domingo parted ways with New York's Metropolitan Opera and resigned from his role as general director of LA Opera in California. In March 2020, Domingo's name was removed from the young artist early career program at the Washington National Opera in Washington, D.C., where he served as artistic director and later general director from 1996 to 2011.

In one excerpt from the wiretap recordings from Argentina, a man whom prosecutors say is Domingo is heard talking to "Mendy," a woman with whom he is allegedly making plans for a sexual encounter. On the tape, the man describes details of his plans to leave a dinner separately from his agents and other representatives, to elude their notice, so that he could meet her. Another excerpt includes "Mendy" calling the alleged leader of the crime ring, Juan Percowicz, to celebrate that she has confirmed plans with the man, whom she refers to as "Plácido."

NPR has reached out to Domingo's representatives for comment but did not immediately receive any response. NPR will update this story with any comments from Domingo.

Now 81 years old, the Spanish-born Domingo was formerly one of opera's most reliably bankable stars and was a household name worldwide thanks to his participation in The Three Tenors alongside the late Luciano Pavarotti and José Carreras.

Domingo's career abroad has survived the sexual misconduct allegations: he has reemerged in recent months for performances across Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, and he remains a brand ambassador for Rolex watches.

In an admiring profile published by Deutsche Welle in Jan. 2021 that hailed his "exceptional career," Domingo declined to address the allegations and said that he preferred to "devote himself to other challenges."

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Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.