AMSTERDAM’S ROYAL CONCERTGEBOUW ORCHESTRA, esteemed as one of the world’s most important orchestras, fired its chief conductor Daniele Gatti today following a report published late last month in the Washington Post that the conductor allegedly made unwanted advances towards two sopranos in his dressing rooms during conducting assignments in Chicago and Italy in 1996 and 2000.
When the Post article was first published on July 26, Gatti issued a statement through a spokesman that read: “All my life I have always been totally alien to any behavior that may be referred to [by] the term harassment, whether psychological or sexual. Every time I have approached someone, I have always done it fully convinced that the interest was mutual. The facts referred to took place a long time ago, but if I have offended anyone, I sincerely apologize.”
The Concertgebouw cited Gatti’s statement in announcing his termination today. “These accusations and Gatti’s reactions with this respect have caused a lot of commotion among both musicians and staff, as well as stakeholders both at home and abroad,” read a release issued by the orchestra. “Besides this, since the publication of the article in the Washington Post, a number of female colleagues of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra reported experiences with Gatti, which are inappropriate considering his position as chief conductor. This has irreparably damaged the relationship of trust between the orchestra and the chief conductor.”
Gatti’s dismissal follows additional fallout from the same Washington Post article, which also reported that four women had come forward to accuse stage director, artist manager and now former co-director of Florida Grand Opera’s young artist program Bernard Uzan of unwanted sexual advances. Uzan’s behavior reportedly included instances of inappropriate language and groping.
“Groping, that I deny completely,” Uzan told the Post at the time the article was published. “Yes, probably I have been flirting with women, that’s possible. Did I insist or push somebody? That’s not possible. Did I push somebody verbally to sleep with me? Absolutely not. Did I blackmail somebody? Absolutely not. […] I hurt people, I am sure. I am a big temperament, and I always say exactly what I think. I may have said things that were not taken well.”
Following publication of the Post article, Uzan announced on August 1 that he would leave the opera industry. In a letter sent to the artists on his company’s roster and then released by his agency, Uzan wrote: “I come from a very different culture, I am of the sixties generation, which is not an excuse, but simply a fact, and I have made my mistakes throughout my life. If I have offended any of you, I deeply apologize. The world has changed tremendously and continues to change every day at a fast speed. While I still deny the recent allegations, I am realizing that it is very difficult, practically impossible, for me to adapt to the new rules of behavior and human relations. I will now concentrate and consecrate my life to my other passion, writing.”
Both Gatti and Uzan’s departures are just the latest indication that the classical music and opera industries are not immune to the reckonings taking place as a result of the #MeToo movement and the instigation of renewed conversations about how society responds to reports of powerful men committing sexual harassment, assault and misconduct. In December of last year, a dozen high-profile orchestras severed ties with esteemed conductor Charles Dutoit after he was accused of assault and rape by ten women. Dutoit has categorically denied the allegations made against him. spacer
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