Charles Dutoit has been forced to step down prematurely as principal conductor and artistic director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) in London in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct made last December.
The decision was communicated by the RPO on Wednesday following an emergency meeting of the board and “further dialogue” with the Swiss conductor. Dutoit, 81, had already announced in June 2017 that he would vacate his post in October 2019.
“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,” said the RPO in a statementexternal link.
His position will be taken over by RPO guest conductors for the time being.
In December last year, three female opera singers and a musician complained that Dutoit had sexually assaulted them in the United States. The incidents are said to have taken place between 1985 and 2010. Lausanne-born Dutoit is accused of restraining them while putting his tongue in their mouths.
Since the allegations were made public, several American symphony orchestras (San Francisco, Boston, New York, Chicago, Cleveland) as well as the Sydney symphony orchestra have suspended their collaboration with Dutoit.
Dutoit has denied claims of sexual assault and plans legal action with a view to defending his reputation.
He has conducted many orchestras in Switzerland and abroad and won several international awards. He currently lives in Canada.