Renowned Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo found himself in the middle of a major labor dispute last week between Argentina's Teatro Colón, one of the world's leading opera houses, and the theater workers’ union. The discord forced the singer and director out of his scheduled March 23 performance at Teatro Colón.
Following a meeting with the musicians, Domingo carried forward on March 24 with his scheduled outdoor concert at Avenida 9 de Julio before an estimated 120,000 onlookers.
But before the show, Domingo reportedly gave an off-the-cuff concert with the Colón choir in the theater, stating he was doing so in honor of the workers and kneeling down with great, sweeping fanfare to kiss the stage.
"I understand the problems. I'm not a victim of anything," Domingo reportedly said at a press conference he convened in the Argentine capital. "There are circumstances that need to be solved. I will make every effort to talk to those responsible for this to be fixed fairly."
Not everyone is having such a calm reaction, however. Following news of Domingo's cancellation, Buenos Aires mayor Mauricio Macri reportedly described the turn of events as a "world-class fiasco."
The labor dispute reaches back several years, with workers currently seeking a 40 percent pay increase. Argentina is racked by inflation and poor economic growth as the country continues to struggle toward recovery following both the global recession and its own fiscal and leadership crisis of 2001, described by the CIA World Factbook as "the most serious economic, social, and political crisis in the country's turbulent history."
Domingo, who is the general director of the Washington National Opera and the Los Angeles Opera, has not performed in Argentina since 1988.