Conductor Charles Dutoit accused of sexual harassment

Conductor Charles Dutoit accused of sexual harassment


Image caption

Charles Dutoit conducts Japan’s NHK Orchestra in 2001

Several major orchestras have severed ties with the renowned conductor, Charles Dutoit, after he was accused of sexual harassment by four women.

Three opera singers and a musician say Dutoit forced himself on them, one saying he thrust his tongue down her throat, the Associated Press reported.

The conductor has not responded to requests for comment from the agency.

The 81-year-old is currently artistic director and principal conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony have already severed all ties with the Swiss-born conductor.

The New York Philharmonic said he had been withdrawn from conducting five concerts scheduled for January, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra said he had withdrawn from concerts scheduled in the first half of next year.

RPO statement

Retired opera singer Paula Rasmussen described an incident she said occurred in his dressing room at the LA Opera in September 1991.

“He threw me against the wall, shoved my hand down his pants and shoved his tongue down my throat,” she told the Associated Press.

Ms Rasmussen, 52, now an attorney in the San Francisco area, said she had been summoned by Dutoit to his dressing room. She refused to ever be alone with him again, she added.

Another singer, Sylvia McNair, said Dutoit “tried to have his way” with her at a hotel after a rehearsal with the Minnesota Orchestra in 1985.

“As soon as it was just the two of us in the elevator, Charles Dutoit pushed me back against the elevator wall and pressed his knee way up between my legs and pressed himself all over me,” she said.

The other two accusers asked to remain anonymous, saying that they feared Dutoit could have them blacklisted from performing.

One said the conductor assaulted her three times in 2006 and once in 2010, grabbing her breasts and pinning her wrists against his dressing room wall.

A spokesperson for London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra said in a statement published by the Daily Telegraph that it had not received any complaints about the conductor and had not been able to reach him.

“Based on the information available to us, these allegations were issued without reaction from Mr Dutoit and, to the best of our knowledge, the claimants have initiated no formal legal proceedings,” the statement read.

“Nonetheless, we take this matter very seriously and we will be monitoring the situation closely.”

Dutoit’s accusers said they felt inspired by women speaking out about sexual misconduct, a worldwide movement that began with revelations about film mogul Harvey Weinstein.

The four women said they finally felt confident to speak after Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine was suspended earlier this month after allegations against him surfaced.

Classical musicians reported a “high level” of discrimination and sexual harassment in the sector, according to a new study carried out by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), and shared with BBC Radio 3.

Some 60% of respondents said they had experienced discrimination of some sort, with the majority reporting it took the form of sexual harassment.


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