Outcry as orchestra hires Swiss conductor at centre of #MeToo row

AFP - [email protected] • 1 Feb, 2019 Updated Fri 1 Feb 2019 13:14 CEST
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A soprano who claims she was molested by veteran conductor Charles Dutoit has condemned the French National Orchestra for hiring him for a concert on Sunday.


Swiss-born Dutoit was hit by a flurry of allegations in 2017, with eight women accusing him of harassment and assault.

He has now been called in at short notice to conduct the French National Orchestra in Berlioz's "The Damnation of Faust" on Sunday after Emmanuel Krivine dropped out because of illness.

But retired French singer Anne-Sophie Schmidt said she felt betrayed by the decision.

"I am sickened that Dutoit has been hired... when eight artists across the world have had the courage to denounce him for sexual harassment," she said.

"It is a knife in the back for those trying to stop violence against woman," she wrote on Facebook.

Several major orchestras had severed their ties with Dutoit, 82, who stepped down from the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM) in 2002 after being accused of mental cruelty by musicians who said he had acted like a "tyrant".

An internal inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment -- which Dutoit denies -- during his 25 years at the OSM was closed in November, with the orchestra saying its findings were inconclusive.

Dutoit said he found the claims "shocking".

Schmidt told the Journal de Montreal newspaper that Dutoit assaulted her in 1995.

"He pushed me against a wall and forcibly kissed me," she said, claiming that similar things "have happened to lots of my colleagues".

The French National Orchestra told AFP that they hired Dutoit, a Berlioz specialist, at very short notice and had consulted their musicians and soloists before taking the decision.

Several leading conductors have been swept up in the fallout of the #MeToo movement, including James Levine, who was sacked by New York's Metropolitan Opera in March after claims that he sexually abused young musicians.

Levine denies the allegations.



AFP 2019/02/01 13:14

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