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Thursday, August 2, 2018

Gatti-dämmerung

Noted conductor canned in Amsterdam
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Daniele Gatti con pomodori. Original publicity photo by Marco Borggreve, photo editing by the author.

Another famous conductor's career has bit the proverbial dust. This time it's Daniele Gatti, the Italian maestro with a scoreless, seat-of-the-pants podium style who has been dismissed from his duties as Chief Conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.



The story happened just six days after a detailed Washington Post exposé by Anne Midgette and Peggy McGlone chronicling sexual abuse and intimidation as an endemic practice in the classical music business. Among those named in the article were Mr. Gatti, who allegedly attacked two women backstage, grabbing them by the fundament and forcing his tongue where it had no business going.

Today, the Post ran a followup article detailing Mr. Gatti's dismissal and quoting a press release from the venerated Dutch orchestra.

"On 26 July, The Washington Post published an article in which Gatti was accused of inappropriate behavior," the release said. "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."

There's more. "Besides this, 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."

The first Post article was a bombshell shattering the normally tranquil summer music season. This piece named Mr. Gatti, stage director and artist's manager Bernard Uzan and concertmaster William Preucil of the Cleveland Orchestra as main offenders in a culture that has allowed, for many years, a cloak of silence to fall over what sounds like some pretty rancid backstage behavior.

Last year a simiar series of accusations felled the careers of longtime Metropolitan Opera music director James Levine, who was suspended and later fired from the Met, and international maestro Charles Dutoit, who was dismissed from fourteen different gigs in less than 48 hours.

"All concerts planned with Daniele Gatti will proceed with other conductors", the Concertgebouw added. The orchestra's 2019 U.S. tour includes two appearances at Carnegie Hall, with one falling on Valentine's Day. No replacement conductor has been announced at the time of this writing. 

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.