Placido Domingo stepping down as head of Washington National Opera
Tenor Plácido Domingo is stepping down from his position as general director at the Washington National Opera, where he has held the top post for close to 14 years. His tenure with the company is scheduled to conclude June 30, 2011.
The opera company said in a release that Domingo announced his decision to leave the company in a Monday meeting of the board of trustees. Kenneth R. Feinberg, president of the Washington National Opera, said in a statement that the company appreciates "all that Plácido Domingo has done for our great company. He will be missed, but all good things must come to an end."
Domingo's departure comes at a crucial time for the financially troubled company. Like many performing arts groups, the Washington company has had to enact layoffs and programming reductions in order to deal with the economic slump. The opera has explored the possibility of merging with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, which serves as landlord to the opera company.
Last week, Domingo renewed his contract as general director of the Los Angeles Opera through 2013. He currently is starring in L.A. Opera's production of "Il Postino" and conducting a revival of Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
Like its counterpart in Washington, L.A. Opera is facing budget difficulties. Last season, L.A. Opera received a $14-million emergency loan, approved by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, to help make ends meet.
In recent years, Domingo, who turns 70 next year, has faced criticism that he is overextended and is an absentee leader. The tenor continues to perform in engagements around the world while maintaining his two leadership roles in L.A. and Washington, D.C. Domingo has downplayed the criticism in interviews.
The most recently available public figures show that Domingo earned $780,000 in 2008-09 at Washington National Opera -- $450,000 as general director and $330,000 as a singer and conductor.
At L.A. Opera, Domingo earned $814,000 in the same period as an executive and a performer, with $414,000 paid and $400,000 deferred.
-- David Ng and Mike Boehm
Photo: Plácido Domingo. Credit: Jose Mendez / EPA