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Classical musicians who have been publicly linked to disgraced opera star Plácido Domingo have been arrested in Argentina or are still wanted by police in connection with an alleged criminal network. The group, which operated as the Buenos Aires Yoga School, was led by 84-year-old Juan Percowicz. The group is accused of sex trafficking, including minors, as well as extortion and money laundering. No charges were brought against Domingo.
At least three of the people Argentine prosecutors have identified as part of the alleged criminal network have performed or collaborated with Domingo since at least 1995, and have also performed professionally with other major classical music artists and ensembles.
An Argentinian law enforcement official says AP in an article published on Thursday: “Plácido did not commit a crime, nor was he part of the organization, but rather he was a consumer of prostitution.” Prostitution is not a crime in Argentina.
Since Wednesday, NPR has repeatedly requested comment from Domingo’s representatives but has received no response. Regardless of the Argentinian investigation, more than 20 women have come forward publicly since 2019 with allegations of sexual misconduct against the opera singer.
One of those arrested in connection with the Buenos Aires criminal network is Susana Mendelievich, whom the Argentine newspaper Clarin identified like the woman called “Mendy” in police wiretapping records released to the media earlier this week.
Now 75, Mendelievitch is a pianist and composer. In a 2000 biography of composer Astor Piazzolla published by Oxford University Press, an Argentine pianist named Susana Mendelievich is mentioned for rehearsing one of Piazzolla’s works in Buenos Aires with the composer and Mstislav Rostropovitch, one of the most revered cellists of the 20th century.
Although she appears to have little digital footprint, Mendelievich is widely mentioned on the website of a New York-based Argentine-born singer and songwriter named Veronique Loiaconowho also cites his ties to Domingo at least eight times on his website, including a photo of the two singing together.
Friday, the Argentinian newspaper The Diary identified Loiacono and a woman named Veronica Angela “Loia” Iacono as the same person. Iácono, who is thought to live in the United States, is still wanted by the police in connection with the alleged criminal network.
NPR reached out to a phone number assigned to Loaicano’s agent; a listed office number that has never connected to a machine or person, despite multiple attempts. The person who texted back said they were unavailable for comment ahead of publication.
According to Loiacono’s own website, she and Mendelievitch, along with two male Argentine musicians, refer to themselves as a composition “team” that co-wrote an opera, symphony and ballet, among other works. Loicano’s site also says the four played with renowned musicians such as the late violin virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin and conductors Daniel Barenboim, the late Georg Solti and Zubin Mehta, as well as Domingo.
Mendelievitch and Loiacono’s songwriting partners are listed as an oboist named Mariano Krauz and the late violinist Rubén González. González, who died in 2018, was concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1986 to 1996.
Krauz has a limited online presence outside of Loiacono’s website. With his surname spelled “Kraus”, however, he is mentioned in at least two mid-1990s reviews of performances in the United States.
Friday, the Argentinian newspaper The Diary identified Krauz/Kraus as the stage names of Mariano Krawczyk, one of the men arrested by Argentine police last week as part of the alleged criminal network.
Loiacono, Mendelievitch and Kraus are mentioned in a 1996 review from the Argentinian newspaper the Nation of a performance they gave with Domingo in Buenos Aires.
Another mention of Kraus relates to a performance he gave as a soloist with the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra in November 1995, conducted by González. In a disparaging review, a Baltimore Sun critical called Kraus a performer “who came on stage wearing a fiery red leisure suit…jaws dropped all around me,” adding, “Someone from quality control was sleeping on this one.” The work he performed were excerpts from a symphony by González entitled Dionisia and Lobo Solitario (Dionysus and the Lone Wolf). The SunThe reviewer wrote that the piece was “a crazy quilt of kitschy encounters with big band swing, Viennese waltzes, blues, rumba, klezmer and, above all, Mozart. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik!”
Despite the terrible review in Baltimore a few months before, Kraus also appeared with the National Symphony Orchestra the following July, performing the same symphony, as the Washington Post described in a largely unfavorable opinion as “a sort of oboe-focused Spanish klezmer music”.
A 1995 opera called Cartas Marcadas, whose music was also written by the four, was based on a book written by the leader of the alleged criminal group, Juan Percowicz, and dedicated to Yehudi Menuhin. According to a 1995 article in the Nation, Domingo praised the work and included the opera’s overture in one of his own concerts. Within this article, the Nation also mentioned that several members of the opera collaboration team were involved with the yoga school in Buenos Aires.