'Sex addict' tenor accused of groping colleague allowed to carry on singing at world's great opera houses

Patrick Sawer
Vittorio Grigolo in a dress rehearsal for Lucia di Lammermoor at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, in March 2018 - Richard Termine

A singing star suspended by the Royal Opera House for groping a colleague on stage is being allowed to continue headlining performances at some of Europe’s premiere opera houses.

Vittorio Grigolo was suspended by Covent Garden management last week after it received allegations he had sexually molested a female singer from the chorus during a curtain call following an ROH performance of Faust, in Japan.

Shocked colleagues allegedly implored Grigolo to stop, but it is claimed he ignored them and carried on groping his colleague.

But now Milan's La Scala, one of the most famous opera houses in the world, has said it is happy for the Italian tenor to headline its four night production of Donizetti’s L’Elisir d'amore next month.

The tenor, who who has previously admitted to being a “sex addict” driven by the need for love and one night stands, has already begun rehearsing for the role of Nemorino

The allegations have split the world’s most prestigious opera houses, with some prepared to give Grigolo the benefit of the doubt until the ROH concludes its investigation, while others prefer to err on the side of caution .

Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo pictured at the Royal Opera House, London, in June 2016 Credit: Rii Schroer

The Deutsche Oper Berlin has also refused to drop him from its two night production of Cammarano’s Lucia di Lammermoor in April next year, when he will sing the part of Edgardo.

It says it sees no reason to replace Grigolo, unless the ROH’s investigation has by then found him guilty of sexually assaulting his colleague.

A spokesman for the company said: "Since the matter is currently being clarified and the performance in Berlin is not planned until April, the Deutsche Oper Berlin will wait for the results of the investigation."

Germany’s State Opera House, the Staatsoper in Unter Der Linden, followed suit, saying it would press ahead with its invitation to Grigolo to sing in Tosca.

Matthias Schulz, director of the State Opera House said: “There is an existing contract for April. We will continue to monitor the matter.”

That comes despite the Metropolitan Opera House in New York taking the decision to follow the ROH in immediately suspending the tenor from its own productions, pending the outcome of the Covent Garden investigation

In a statement, the Met said: “Following the alleged incident reported by the Royal Opera House concerning Vittorio Grigolo, the Met will be suspending him with immediate effect from all future performances, pending the outcome of the ROH investigation.”

Grigolo had been scheduled to perform Verdi’s “La Traviata” at the Met alongside Lisette Oropesa in February and March. It has yet to announce a replacement.

His suspension came after the Met announced on Tuesday that Plácido Domingo had agreed to withdraw from his slate of scheduled performances following allegations of sexual harassment made by around 20 multiple women.

The opera legend, who indicated that he would never again perform at the Met, had been due to sing the title role in the season debut of Verdi’s Macbeth on Wednesday night.

That would have been his first performance in the United States since the Associated Press news agency reported that numerous women had accused him of inappropriate behavior, including one soprano who said he grabbed her bare breast. He denies the allegations.

The Met had been under increasing pressure to cancel Domingo’s seven scheduled appearances,

In a bizarre move four days after he was suspended Grigolo posted on Facebook a photograph of himself and his fellow cast members taking the curtain call at the end of the performance where the alleged groping took place.

In a message to Japanese fans he wrote: “ “It was special to come back and feel how warm all of you are. Tokyo has a really special place in my heart.Thanks to all the wonderful cast and all the colleagues , chorus , dancers and orchestra of the Royal Opera House.”

He added the hashtags #love #passion #desire and #neverforgetwhoyouare.

In a 2015 Vanity Fair interview Grigolo, whose  seven-year marriage ended in 2013, told interviewer Sara Faillaci: “I’m a sex addict. I’m attracted to mature women… complete women. If there’s a chemical attraction, I couldn’t care less about whether she has a toned rear or not.”

He added: “I’m difficult to be with. I believe in fidelity, but that’s easier said than done. I like women. I’m always driven by love, even if it only lasts for a night.”