Culture&Arts

Singers, Civic Orchestra member accuse Dutoit of predatory sexual behavior

Singers, Civic Orchestra member accuse Dutoit of predatory sexual behavior

The 81-year-old artistic director and conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra has been accused of sexual misconduct by three opera singers and a classical musician in a new report.

A 24-year-old musician who played with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago said Dutoit tried to "kiss" her and "push his body" on her when he was guest-conducting the orchestra.

That brings to five the number of major symphonies where Dutoit either has withdrawn or been removed - all within less than a day of accusations from three singers and one musician.

Sylvia McNair, 61, a soprano and two-time Grammy victor, said Dutoit pushed himself against her in a hotel lift after a March 1985 rehearsal with the Minnesota Orchestra.

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Dutoit called a meeting in his dressing room after a rehearsal, and when the others left, she said he pressed her against the wall, restrained her wrists and pushed himself against her.

Retired mezzo-soprano Paula Rasmussen, now an attorney, told the AP it happened to her in a Los Angeles dressing room in 1991. That attack allegedly occurred at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago during lunch in his suite. The alleged victims included soprano Sylvia McNair, now 61.

The Philharmonic said in a statement that Dutoit said Thursday he was withdrawing from conducting a series of concerts scheduled for January 17-20. While the Chicago Symphony pondered a decision, the Boston Symphony on Thursday already took action, cutting ties with Dutoit, who had performed with them since 1981.

The San Francisco Symphony is the latest organization to sever ties with conductor Charles Dutoit in response to sexual misconduct allegations reported by The Associated Press. The Swiss-born conductor is now also artistic director of London's Royal Philharmonic and holds positions in Tokyo and Philadelphia. It cited "extremely troubling" sexual misconduct allegations. Dutoit recently conducted performances of Strauss' "Salome" at the Verbier Festival and is still scheduled to lead performances with the New York Philharmonic in January.


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