The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam has terminated its contract with its chief conductor Daniele Gatti in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct. The Italian is the latest in a series of conductors to be removed from their post after being accused of sexual misconduct, following James Levine and Charles Dutoit.
Daniele Gatti. Photo © Anne Dokter
The allegations against Gatti were published in a Washington Post story on sexual misconduct in the classical music industry, authored by Anne Midgette and Peggy McGlone. Gatti was just one of three men named, all of whom have now suffered public consequences for what has been characterised as years of serious misconduct.
The story alleged that Gatti had, on separate occasions, attacked two women in his dressing room. Soprano Alicia Berneche claimed that in 1996, the conductor put his “hands on my rear end, and his tongue down my throat” after having been invited to his room in order to set up a time for a coaching session. The soprano Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet told the Post that Gatti had tried something similar in 2000 when she was singing in Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer in Bologna, Italy. She said that after rebuffing his advances, the company never re-engaged her.
“On 26 July, The Washington Post published an article in which Gatti was accused of inappropriate behaviour,” the Royal Concertgebouw said in a statement. “These accusations and Gatti’s reactions with this respect have caused a lot of commotion among both musicians and staff, as well as stakeholders both at home and abroad.
“Since the publication of the article in The Washington Post, a number of female colleagues of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra reported experiences with Gatti, which are inappropriate considering his position as chief conductor. This has irreparably damaged the relationship of trust between the orchestra and its chief conductor.”
In a statement issued through his lawyer in response to his firing, Gatti has said that he is “extremely surprised” and “firmly denies all sorts of allegations.” He has characterised the accusations as part of a “smear campaign”.
In an earlier statement issued by Gatti’s recently engaged publicity firm The Reputation Doctor, the conductor made a blanket apology to “all the women I have met in my entire life”.
“Today and moving forward, I plan to focus much more on my behaviours and actions with all women. This includes women both young and old, to be sure no woman ever feels uncomfortable ever again, especially women that I work with in my profession in classical music. I am truly sorry.”
Gatti has led the Concertgebouw since 2016.