In Washington, the operatic drama is taking place offstage. Spanish tenor Placido Domingo has slammed a Washington Post music critic who said he had "sabotaged" a recent performance of "Tosca" with his conducting, calling her comments "unconscionable" and unleashing a war of words.
The 70-year-old Grammy winner in September conducted several performances of the Puccini work by the Washington National Opera, a company which he led for 15 years as artistic and general director.
In her September 12 review, Post critic Anne Midgette wrote: "All the performances were hampered, indeed sabotaged, by the conducting."
Domingo hit back in a scathing letter to the editor printed Saturday.
"In more than 50 years of my career as a singer and nearly 40 as a conductor, I have accepted critics reviews, positive or negative," Domingo wrote.
"But for the first time in my life, I am sending a letter to the editor of a newspaper, because your music critic Anne Midgette has crossed the line between reasonably objective criticism and what appears to be open animosity," he said.
"Midgette's statement that my conducting actually 'sabotaged' WNO's recent performances of Puccini's 'Tosca' is offensive and defamatory," charged Domingo, who sang for the last time in Washington in May.
"Her remark suggests not only that I 'spoiled' the performances but that I did so intentionally. This is unconscionable."
Midgette responded on her blog, admitting she had been "tough" on Domingo during his stint at the WNO and "critical" of some of his conducting efforts, but rejecting the idea of any personal bias.
"I found his performance on the opening night of 'Tosca' dismaying," she wrote. "I can?t believe he feels in his heart that this 'Tosca' represented his finest hour."
She added: "I am saddened that Mr Domingo sees this criticism as a sign of personal bias."