Placido Domingo says harassment accusations 'a nightmare'

The accusations, which began to surface in September, have effectively ended his US career

Spanish opera singer Placido Domingo said Friday he has faced a "nightmare" since he was accused early this year by multiple women of sexual harassment.

The famed singer -- who has been a conductor and director of some of the world's most prestigious opera houses -- has been accused by at least 20 women of forcibly kissing, grabbing or fondling them in incidents dating back to at least the 1980s. He has strongly disputed the accusations.

"Without a doubt these have been the most difficult months of my life. Unimaginable," the 78-year-old said during an interview published in online Spanish newspaper El Confidencial.

"I feel judged, condemned and sentenced, but I have not been accused of any crime... I continue to work, study, rehearse and perform. This gives me the serenity I need to face this nightmare," he added.

The accusations, which began to surface in September, led Domingo to step down as general director of the Los Angeles Opera, and withdraw from all future performances at New York's Metropolitan Opera, effectively ending his US career.

Several of the women said Domingo tried to pressure them into sexual relationships by dangling jobs, and then sometimes punished them professionally when they refused his advances -- a charge he denies.

"I never retaliated, cut short or hurt anyone's career. I never promised anyone a role in exchange for favours," he told El Conidencial.

"What I experienced was unstaoppable. The accusation and the sentence came instantly and there was nothing else to do but stay calm and remain quiet until the furor passed."

So far, Domingo's career has been less affected by the scandal in Europe than in the United States.

He has performed in Austria, Hungary and Switzerland since the allegations were published.