Placido Domingo, the legendary opera singer facing numerous sexual harassment accusations, is withdrawing from all future performances at New York's Metropolitan Opera.
The 11th-hour decision came just one night before the 78-year-old Spaniard dubbed the "King of Opera" was scheduled to perform the title role in the Met's sold-out first production of "Macbeth."
"Placido Domingo has agreed to withdraw from all future performances at the Met, effective immediately," the opera said in a statement, saying that the bankable star agreed "that he needed to step down."
Domingo, who has been a conductor and director of some of the world's most prestigious opera houses, and debuted at the Met at age 27, said in a separate statement that he had in fact "asked to withdraw."
"I strongly dispute recent allegations made about me, and I am concerned about a climate in which people are condemned without due process," the singer currently accused of harassment by 20 women said.
But "upon reflection, I believe that my appearance in this production of Macbeth would distract from the hard work of my colleagues both on stage and behind the scenes," he said. "As a result, I have asked to withdraw and I thank the leadership of the Met for graciously granting my request," he continued, saying he considered his final dress rehearsal his "last performance on the Met stage."
Željko Lučić will replace Domingo for the three performances of Macbeth.
In August, eight singers and a dancer told the Associated Press about incidents going back to the 1980s, including one in which a woman said Domingo put his hand down her skirt while three others said he forcibly kissed them.
A subsequent report by the US news agency cited 11 more women, including one who said he reached down her robe to grab her bare breast.
Some classical music companies were quick to err on the side of caution, notably the Philadelphia Orchestra and the San Francisco Opera, which immediately canceled his upcoming performances.
The Dallas Opera then cancelled a March 2020 gala concert featuring Domingo.
The Los Angeles Opera, where has served as general director since 2003, hired outside counsel to investigate allegations, a probe which is still ongoing.
The Met previously had said it would wait for those results, and Domingo's split comes after reports of internal strife over his continued association there.
The American Guild of Musical Artists has also launched an independent investigation into accusations against Domingo.
Many fans and fellow performers leapt to Domingo's defence when the accusations broke, with many calling him an innocent "ladies man" who women adored.
Domingo now has a string of European dates on the calendar, including Zurich on 13 October and Moscow 17 October.
European houses have thus far taken more of a wait-and-see stance, and he's received standing ovations at shows in Austria and Hungary that took place weeks after the accusations.
Domingo's next performances in the United States are set to begin on 22 February at the Los Angeles Opera, which did not respond to a request for comment on the star's break with the Met.