The Metropolitan Opera has fired revered British director John Copley after receiving a complaint the company has characterised as “inappropriate behaviour in the rehearsal room”, the New York Times reported.
Over a six-decade career, Copley, 84, has worked at most of the world’s major opera houses and with some of the biggest names in the industry. According to two individuals familiar with the complaint, a chorus member reported that he was made to feel uncomfortable during a rehearsal on Monday because of a sexually charged remark the director had made. Copley had been directing a revival of his 1990 production of Semiramide.
“Following a complaint from a chorister about inappropriate behaviour in the rehearsal room that was received on Monday, Jan. 29, John Copley is no longer directing the revival of ‘Semiramide’ that will open on Feb. 19”, the Met said in a statement.
Copley’s firing comes at a time when the Met has been facing intense scrutiny for its handling of sexual abuse accusations against former music director James Levine. The New York Times has pointed out in previous coverage that a number of people have taken to social media to question why the Met didn’t investigate Levine earlier, in light of the rumours of alleged misconduct that have dogged the conductor decades. The organisation has also been criticised for taking no action when a police report alleging sexual abuse against Levine surfaced in 2016.
Copley has had a long working relationship with the Royal Opera House (he was its former principal resident director) and English National Opera, with many of his productions mainstays. He has enjoyed a similarly significant relationship with the Met. Copley has also had a long association with Opera Australia, with his 1981 production of Tosca particularly cherished by audiences, and his productions have been seen by audiences across the country, such as the revival of his Lucia di Lammermoor by West Australian Opera last year.
The New York Times could not reach Copley’s agent, William Guerri at Columbia Artists, for comment.