Last night Verdi’s Macbeth was performed at the Met without Placido Domingo in the title role as originally scheduled. Domingo is the latest casualty in the ongoing culture war against naughty or really bad behavior depending on your vantage point. More about vantage points later. Fifty one years at the Met and the tenor instantly has gone from legendary performer to sexual miscreant. No gold watch and hearty farewell for the leading singer at the Met over the last half century. He joins James Levine who served almost as long but is now on the right thinkers Scheiße Liste. Already there is Woody Allen for reasons known to all who keep track of these transactions. They have for all intents become non persons similar to the status of those erased in Stalinist Russia. No one who’s on the right side of history and who is a right thinker will work with them.
The Met was shocked, shocked like Captain Louis Renault in Casablanca, to learn of the sexual proclivities of Levine and Domingo who together had been with the company for almost 100 years. Who could have guessed during all those years with the company that the two were sexual banditi? Surely no one knew.
But the list keeps growing. Tenor Vittorio Grigolo is apparently a groper and has been suspended, whatever that means, by the Royal Opera House in the midst of its tour of Tokyo. As I was writing this I learned the the Met too has suspended Grigolo. Guilty until proven guilty.
Is there no end of the nefarious action of men of status. Imagine what would happen if Arturo Toscanini were alive and active, in all senses of the word, today. He was a notorious womanizer, which was Domingo’s sin. Read Harvey Sachs’ first biography of the Italian maestro for all the salacious details. Toscanini raised the casting couch to levels not even dreamed of by the grossest Hollywood mogul. The reincarnation of Ezio Pinza would cause a lot more than the discomfort. His sexual exploits in and out of the Met are epic. Domingo’s presence was said to engender unease during the rehearsals for the Macbeth show that he never got to appear in.
Then there’s Enrico Caruso and the Monkey House Incident. On November 23, 1906, the great tenor was convicted of inappropriately touching a young woman named Hannah Graham in the monkey house at the Central Park Zoo. Caruso had been arrested a week earlier after being watched for three-quarters of an hour by police officer James J. Cain. As Cain later testified at the trial, he allegedly observed Caruso going up to a number of women in the monkey house; sometimes he stood close behind them so that his legs touched theirs; sometimes he touched women by reaching his hands out through slits cut in his coat’s pockets. He got off with a $10 fine and was cheered by the Met’s audience when he next appeared at the Met. Today he’d get the death penalty. O tempora o mores.
The guardians of a our behavior are already calling for Peter Gelb’s head because he took a while to off Domingo. Clearly some sweeping changes are needed. It’s quite clear what the problem is – men! So to start I suggest that the Met’s season from now until the second coming consist solely of Suor Angelica. I might allow a few Handel operas provided all the male roles were sung by countertenors.
Now for the part on vantage points. Here it’s right versus left. This is how we’ll determine who goes to Siberia and who gets to go on the late night shows.
The Met’s music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin has to go. He’s a wonderful conductor, but he’s right handed. Out! He’ll be replaced by Donald Runnicles. Stage right will have to go as will audience right. These amputations will solve all the Met’s problems as there’ll be nothing left (no pun intended) of the stage or auditorium. Thus, the company will reach the goal it’s been after for 136 years – ticket sales for no performance. People can say they’ve been to the Met without having to sit through 27 hours of Parsifal. So ignore what I said about Suor Angelica. She’s gone too. Also forget what I said about the right side of history.
But the problem goes deeper than casting choices. Our whole attitude in all its permutations demands correction. Consider sports. No more right handed pitchers. The right side of the infield goes. No more right fielders. This will shorten the game that so many have complained is too long. Obviously, Who will no longer be on first base.
In football the right side of the line is axed. The game now needs only eight players. No right handed quarterbacks. Sorry Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes, Steve Young will have to unretire.
There’s no end to the things we can ban. Come to think of it, right thinking will also have to go, or it would if we could find some of it to abolish. Thinkers of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your minds. Parthenogenesis for all.
Incidentally, a quick check shows that Placido Domingo still has a gig scheduled in Moscow.