LONDON — Charles Dutoit has stepped down early from his role as artistic director and principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra following allegations of sexual misconduct, the orchestra said Wednesday.
The renowned conductor’s departure had originally been scheduled for October 2019, but the London-based philharmonic said in a statement that it now was effective immediately. The decision, made jointly with Dutoit, followed an emergency board meeting and “dialogue” with the conductor, according to the statement.
Several symphonies severed ties with the 81-year-old Dutoit after The Associated Press first reported in December that three opera singers and a classical musician had accused him of sexually assaulting them in incidents between 1985 and 2010. His office has said there is no truth to the allegations.
Dutoit was a frequent guest conductor with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Center. He also collaborated with the CSO at the Ravinia Festival.
“Whilst Mr. Dutoit continues to seek legal counsel to defend himself, the protracted uncertainty and media reporting makes Mr. Dutoit’s position with the orchestra untenable,” the orchestra said.
The women had said Dutoit sexually attacked them on the sidelines of rehearsals and performances with orchestras in five cities — Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Saratoga Springs, New York.
In his earlier statement, Dutoit said, “Whilst informal physical contact is commonplace in the arts world as a mutual gesture of friendship, the serious accusations made involving coercion and forced physical contact have absolutely no basis in truth.”