Famed Chicago Symphony guest conductor accused in sex scandal

The San Francisco Symphany canceled planned performances by well-known conductor Charles Dutoit sexual assault allegatiosn surfaced

The San Francisco Symphany canceled planned performances by well-known conductor Charles Dutoit sexual assault allegatiosn surfaced

Paula Rasmussen was just starting out as an opera singer when she landed a principal role in "Les Troyens" at the Los Angeles Opera in 1991.

Dutoit, now 81 years old, has not responded to the accusations first reported Thursday afternoon by the Associated Press.

"He threw me against the wall, shoved my hand down his trousers and shoved his tongue down my throat", she said. "But when you're 25, you think you can handle everything".

"We deplore the type of behavior described by Mr. Dutoit's accusers and we recognize our responsibility to be a forceful opponent of abuses of power", the Philadelphia Orchestra Association said.

"He threw me against the wall, shoved my hand down his trousers and shoved his tongue down my throat", retired mezzo-soprano Paula Rasmussen said of an incident in Dutoit's dressing room at the LA Opera in September 1991. "I was just sort of frozen". McNair said he pinned her against the elevator wall. In one, she said, Dutoit wrote that he was unaware "that an affectionate hug and kiss could have such a negative effect", adding, "Of course, I forgot you are still a child".

"It wasn't necessarily that I was afraid of him", said Rasmussen, now an attorney in the Bay Area. I never went to company management.

After a rehearsal, she said, Mr. Dutoit has convened a meeting in his dressing room. But she would either refuse to go or have a colleague accompany her.

"There is nothing wrong with him as a musician", she said of the world-renowned conductor.

CNN has made multiple attempts to reach out for comment from Dutoit or his representatives through various orchestras, but those efforts have been unsuccessful.

The women - three opera singers and a classical musician - said the incidents happened in a vehicle, Dutoit's hotel suite, his dressing room, an elevator and backstage before a performance.

In a statement, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) said it and Dutoit had "jointly agreed" to release him from his forthcoming concert obligations for the immediate future. "Charles Dutoit needs to be given a fair opportunity to seek legal advice and contest these accusations".

The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Sydney Symphony and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra have today issued statements cancelling all upcoming engagements with veteran conductor Charles Dutoit - following allegations of sexual misconduct.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which Dutoit has regularly guest-conducted since his debut with the orchestra at Ravinia in 1982, announced late Thursday that he has withdrawn from concerts he was to have directed at Symphony Center in March and April. He is the artistic director and principal conductor at London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

"I never planned on talking about it publicly", she said, but "when somebody asks me point-blank about what happened, I don't see why I should not speak the truth". On Dec. 3, New York's Metropolitan Opera suspended longtime conductor James Levine while it investigated allegations that Levine had sexual encounters with teen boys.

McNair, who went on to perform with numerous world's major orchestras and opera companies, said she does not feel traumatized by Dutoit's behaviour 32 years ago. "What's important is that the opera world is not different. I remember saying, 'Stop it!' And I made a dash for it".

Latest News