January 20, 2019

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Two Star Conductors Faced #MeToo Allegations. Now They’re Back.

Two Star Conductors Faced #MeToo Allegations. Now They’re Back.
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The New York Times contacted 10 high-profile conductors and other leading classical music figures for comment but was told they were busy, on vacation or felt they did not know enough to comment. Nick Mathias of IMG Artists, which represents Vasily Petrenko, the Russian conductor who works across Europe, said Mr. Petrenko was busy, but added: “I really don’t think it would be at all appropriate for Vasily, or any other conductor, to be commenting on senior conductors such as Dutoit or Gatti.”

Nikolaus Pont, the general manager of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich, said in a telephone interview that the ensemble had decided to keep Mr. Gatti on for two concerts which he conducted in October, despite the allegations against him. But the whole process had involved two months’ agonizing, and he still felt “discomfort” about it, he said.

Mr. Pont said he contacted the Concertgebouw for more details, but they would not provide any, for legal reasons. No one at the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra reported any problems with Mr. Gatti, and Mr. Pont said he could not find any official reason that the performances should not occur.

“It was a difficult decision, as the last thing you want to do is give the impression of wanting to cover anything up or play anything down,” Mr. Pont said. The issue of sexual misconduct needs to be discussed more in classical music, he added, and not just in orchestras, but also in universities and academies. He referred to the case of Mr. Mauser, a former president of Munich’s University of Music and Performing Arts, who was convicted on three counts of sexual coercion against a singer. In December, the university announced a ban on teaching in private rooms following the scandal.

Other German orchestras have considered working with Mr. Gatti. In December, the Berlin Philharmonic said two concerts with him in 2019 had been canceled because the conductor was unwell, but the orchestra did not rule out future engagements. A spokesman for the annual Wagner festival in Bayreuth, Germany, would not confirm or deny that it was considering inviting Mr. Dutoit to conduct the “Ring” cycle in 2020.

Alicia Berneche, a soprano who has made allegations against Mr. Gatti, said in a telephone interview that his return reminded her of Louis C.K.’s comeback. She said that Mr. Gatti grabbed her bottom and shoved his tongue down her throat on her first day of rehearsals at the Lyric Opera in Chicago in 1996.



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