Home / NEWS / Britain’s leading Opera director John Copley sacked after making ‘sexually inappropriate’ joke about naked ghost

Britain’s leading Opera director John Copley sacked after making ‘sexually inappropriate’ joke about naked ghost

Britain’s leading opera director John Copley has been sacked from his job at the New York Metropolitan Opera after what his supporters claim was a misunderstanding about a “naked” ghost. 

Mr Copley, 84, is understood to have flown back to London after being fired by manager Peter Gelb over rehearsal room comments which prompted a complaint from a chorus member. 

The distinguished director was working on a production of Rossini’s Semiramide, due to open later this month, when the incident took place. 

The Daily Telegraph understands from a source who was in the room at the time that he was working on a scene with the chorus of the company which involves the appearance of a ghost, and was encouraging the singers to show different reactions to the character. 

Among the ideas that he suggested was that he himself would “imagine the character naked”, prompting a complaint from a chorus member who supporters suggested may have misunderstood the comment. 

However, the Met claimed on Friday night that during rehearsals on Monday Mr Copley had “approached the chorus member and said ‘I’m thinking of you in my bed with your clothes off’, making the chorus member feel extremely ill at ease due to this sexually demeaning remark.”

Mr Copley is made a CBE by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace

Credit:
Dominic Lipinski 

The spokesman added: “Later that day the chorus member found himself unable to continue with his work and requested to leave the evening performance of Il Trovatore in which he was performing because he felt upset and distressed.”

The cast member “felt unable to continue working with Mr Copley because of the hostile, sexually charged environment that had been created”, so Mr Copley was asked to leave, the spokesman said. 

Mr Copley is one of Britain’s leading directors and has produced operas at the Royal Opera House and the English National Opera in London, including a production of La Boheme that was performed for more than 40 years, as well as many other productions which ran for more than two decades. 

Over a 50-year career he has also worked at the San Francisco Opera and Dallas Opera, the Sydney Opera House and throughout Europe. 

A representative for Mr Copley declined to comment when contacted at his London address on Friday afternoon.

Friends said he was too upset to speak, but the music website Slipped Disc reported that he had thanked his supporters. 

In a social media post he reportedly said: “Just to thank you all for your generous support and loving wishes. This is a very difficult time, helped by you all. Uncle John.”

General view of the audience and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra

Credit:
Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images

The opera world has come out in his defense, with supporters arguing that he has been the victim of a “witch hunt”. 

“I’ve been in that rehearsal room every day. I’m so disgusted that it has come to this. John always makes witty and fun remarks, it’s part of who he is and why we love him,” Australian soprano and member of the cast for the opera Helena Dix wrote on Twitter, adding that members of the company “chose not to attend rehearsals” on Thursday afternoon. 

Peter Gelb – Metropolitan Opera House

The mezzo-soprano Dame Sarah Connolly told the Daily Telegraph that Mr Gelb should apologise. 

“John Copley’s modus operandi is always in jest, and always tongue-in-cheek, and always with a sort of gentle, camp humour, absolutely nothing remotely threatening and given the outpouring of affection for him, online and on social media, there’s never been an incident where anybody has been offended,” she said. 

“Are we going to be heading towards an environment where you’re not allowed to be yourself, which would undermine the whole creative process, for fear of being told off?”

John Copley proudly holds his CBE 

Credit:
 John Stillwell

Opera manager Dominic Stafford Uglow, who said he had known Mr Copley all his life, said he was “flamboyant, ostentatious, and occasionally outrageous, but tremendously endearing, fiercely loyal, and incredibly intelligent”. 

The New York Met has previously come under fire after allegations emerged that its former musical director James Levine had sexually abused men several decades ago. 

Mr Levine, who was suspended in December, denies the accusations. 

Article Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/02/britains-leading-opera-director-john-copley-sacked-making-sexually/

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