“A renowned Swiss conductor returned to a major world stage Sunday for the first time since 10 women accused him of sexual assault and harassment—and he earned repeated ovations from the awed Paris audience,” reports Angela Charlton in Monday’s (2/4) Associated Press. “Charles Dutoit, 82, denies wrongdoing, and has faced no charge.… Many concert-goers at the Philharmonie de Paris shrugged off the accusations. But Dutoit’s appearance Sunday shocked Anne-Sophie Schmidt, a retired French soprano who says he pushed her against a wall, groped her and forcibly kissed her in 1995.… Schmidt lamented the ‘catastrophic message’ his return sends to victims of assault, and issued a statement Sunday calling attention to the allegations against him by women in three countries…. At the Philharmonie, Dutoit led an intense, intermission-free performance of Berlioz’ ‘The Damnation of Faust’ as a last-minute replacement for the lead conductor of the Orchestre National de France, who fell ill two weeks ago. Dutoit’s return caused divisions behind the scenes. The orchestra allowed musicians to vote on whether to support Dutoit’s return, and a majority voted ‘no.’ … The decision ultimately fell to orchestra management, which said Dutoit was the only conductor available on short notice with the necessary expertise.”

Posted February 5, 2019