Opera legend Placido Domingo has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women he worked with during his career.

Eight singers and a dancer told the Associated Press that the 78-year-old sexually harassed them during encounters at venues that included opera companies where he held top managerial positions, including in the U.S., from the late 1980s onwards.

One accuser alleges Domingo, a member of the famed opera group the Three Tenors, stuck his hand down her skirt and three others said he forced wet kisses on their lips during incidents that took place in a dressing room, a hotel room and at a lunch meeting.

"A business lunch is not strange," one of the singers told the AP. "Somebody trying to hold your hand during a business lunch is strange - or putting their hand on your knee is a little strange. He was always touching you in some way, and always kissing you."

Although eight accusers chose to remain anonymous, Patricia Wulf, a mezzo-soprano singer, agreed to be named and said Domingo pursued her after performances and would knock on her dressing room door, and that she feared turning him down would ruin her career. Others complained of harassment lasting years.

In addition to the nine accusers, six other women told the AP that he had made suggestive overtures that made them uncomfortable.

AP reporters also spoke to almost three dozen other singers, dancers, orchestra musicians, members of backstage staff, voice teachers and an administrator who said they witnessed inappropriate behaviour and that he often pursued younger women.

In a statement, Domingo said that the allegations were "inaccurate" but said it was "painful to hear" that he may have "upset anyone or made them feel uncomfortable".

He added: "I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual. People who know me or who have worked with me know that I am not someone who would intentionally harm, offend, or embarrass anyone.

"However, I recognise that the rules and standards by which we are - and should be - measured against today are very different than they were in the past. I am blessed and privileged to have had a more than 50-year career in opera and will hold myself to the highest standards."

The Spanish-born musician found fame in the opera world in the 1960s and 1970s, singing and conducting in productions across the world, before becoming a crossover star in the 1980s. Domingo, Jose Carreras, and Luciano Pavarotti formed the Three Tenors to perform at the 1990 soccer World Cup in Italy, and topped charts across the world with their live concert albums.