SAN FRANCISCO — Three opera singers and a classical musician say that world-renowned conductor Charles Dutoit sexually assaulted them — bodily restraining them, forcing his physique in opposition to theirs, typically thrusting his tongue into their mouths, and in a single case, sticking one in every of their fingers down his pants.
In separate interviews with The Related Press, the accusers offered detailed accounts of incidents they are saying occurred between 1985 and 2010 in a transferring automobile, the two-time Grammy winner’s lodge suite, his dressing room, an elevator and the darkness of backstage.
The ladies accuse the 81-year-old inventive director and principal conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of sexual misconduct on the sidelines of rehearsals and performances in 5 cities — Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Saratoga Springs, New York.
“He threw me in opposition to the wall, shoved my hand down his pants and shoved his tongue down my throat,” retired mezzo-soprano Paula Rasmussen recounted of an incident she mentioned occurred in his dressing room on the LA Opera in September 1991.
Dutoit, who holds the titles of conductor laureate of the Philadelphia Orchestra and conductor emeritus of the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo, didn’t reply to a number of makes an attempt to achieve him via the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and his workplace in Montreal. The Royal Philharmonic mentioned Dutoit was at the moment on trip, however that it had forwarded the AP’s emailed requests for remark on to him. The AP additionally reached out to Dutoit’s workplace with a number of cellphone calls and emails.
In a protracted, distinguished profession, he additionally has led extremely regarded orchestras in Paris and Montreal, and traveled the globe as a visitor conductor. He’s scheduled to conduct the New York Philharmonic subsequent month in a four-day program honoring Ravel.
All 4 girls mentioned the Swiss-born conductor both lured them to a non-public place to debate or observe music, or just seized a second alone to make his transfer. The ladies all mentioned they resisted him and escaped.
The AP spoke with colleagues and buddies of every accuser who confirmed the ladies shared particulars of their experiences on the time.
The ladies mentioned they by no means filed formal complaints as a result of they had been younger and Dutoit was the maestro, however felt impressed to come back ahead now by all the ladies talking out about sexual misconduct by highly effective males in different industries and by the Metropolitan Opera suspending conductor James Levine earlier this month after misconduct accusations surfaced.
Rasmussen mentioned Dutoit summoned her to his dressing room repeatedly after attacking her, however that she by no means once more went alone.
Baritone John Atkins, who was a part of the manufacturing, mentioned he stood guard for her after the incident “as a witness, for lack of a greater time period.” Atkins mentioned he nonetheless remembers the chilly stare from Dutoit. “He checked out me like, ‘Why are you standing right here?’ And I checked out him like, ‘You recognize why.”’
Soprano Sylvia McNair, 61, herself a two-time Grammy winner, mentioned Dutoit “tried to have his approach” together with her at a lodge after a March 1985 rehearsal with the Minnesota Orchestra.
“As quickly because it was simply the 2 of us within the elevator, Charles Dutoit pushed me again in opposition to the elevator wall and pressed his knee approach up between my legs and pressed himself throughout me,” mentioned McNair who was 28 on the time. “I managed to shove him off and proper at that second, the elevator door opened. I keep in mind saying, ‘Cease it!’ And I made a touch for it.”
McNair went on to carry out with most of the world’s main orchestras and opera corporations and mentioned she doesn’t really feel traumatized by Dutoit’s conduct 32 years in the past. “However what he did was incorrect,” she mentioned.
The opposite two accusers — each of whom say Dutoit assaulted them in 2006 — didn’t need to be recognized, saying they feared talking up as a result of the ability the well-known maestro wields might result in them being blacklisted from the trade.
One was a 24-year-old musician with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago when Dutoit arrived to conduct. She mentioned he invited her to lunch at a restaurant, however then modified the venue to his suite on the 4 Seasons Lodge, the place he pressured himself on her.
“He was simply pushing himself in opposition to me, making an attempt to kiss me, grabbing maintain of my physique, pushing his physique on me,” she mentioned. “I completely mentioned no, pushed him away, went to the opposite facet of the room.”
The opposite lady, a soprano, mentioned Dutoit attacked her a number of months later when she sang with the Philadelphia Orchestra in Saratoga Springs.
After a rehearsal, she mentioned Dutoit referred to as a gathering in his dressing room and, when others left, pressed her in opposition to the wall, restrained her wrists and pushed himself in opposition to her. He grabbed her breasts on two different events, she mentioned — whereas they had been using in a automobile and likewise backstage, proper earlier than they walked on stage to carry out.
4 years later, when the soprano carried out once more with Dutoit in Philadelphia, she mentioned he pushed her in opposition to a wall and compelled his mouth on hers.
“There may be nothing incorrect with him as a musician,” she mentioned. “However he has been allowed to function as a predator off the stage.”