Lyon Opéra in uproar over Serge Dorny’s expenses, and more

Lyon Opéra in uproar over Serge Dorny’s expenses, and more


norman lebrecht

May 18, 2017

The high-living director general is facing a staff rebellion.

In an open letter, employees of the opera house express ‘profound indignation’ at the bad image Dorny has projected onto the company by means of his inflated expense account, and at his failure to address allegations of sexual harassment by some of his executives.

Nous constatons que malgré les promesses et les engagements de la direction, des salariés, notamment parmi le personnel féminin, sont victimes de harcèlements réguliers de la part de certains cadres dirigeants.

Read the full letter here.


  • Mathieu says:

    There is no mention of *sexual* harassment in the letter.

    • Gaëtan says:

      … notamment parmi le personnel féminin …

      One can infer,

      • Mathieu says:

        No. One can’t. You seem to assume that women in the workplace can be the victims of no form of harrassment other than sexual. That simply is not the case.

    • John Borstlap says:

      According to French custom, that IS a form of sexual harrassment – people feeling neglected.

  • Jacques Bentolila says:

    Monsieur Lebrecht, pourquoi êtes-vous si souvent méprisant, voire malveillant, vis à vis de la vie musicale française et de ses acteurs ? Un peu plus de bienveillance à l’égard de nos artistes, de nos orchestres, de nos opéras, dont les productions n’ont rien à envier à celles de nos voisins européens, ne ferait pas de mal…

    • Olassus says:

      Je suis persuadé que cela n’a rien à voir avec le fait que l’institution soit française, mais plutôt une préoccupation générale concernant les titulaires de bureau arrogants ou dépensiers ou abusifs ou paresseux dans les arts – dont il est maintenant clair Serge Dorny en est un, que ce soit à Dresde ou à Lyon. Les efforts de Norman à cet égard sont utiles et constructifs. La plupart d’entre nous sont d’immenses admirateurs de groupes artistiques français et du dévouement du gouvernement français pour les soutenir.

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    SD just can’t help making friends wherever he goes, eh?

  • Frankster says:

    Did everyone forget that Lyon in early May was just voted “Opera House of the Year” by International Opera Awards. Dorny has taken Lyon from a little-know provincial house to be recognized as one of the top houses in Europe. Dorny has always, from the beginning, had to deal with rumblings by his staff. I do not know details but am aware that France has legal protections against sexual harassment at the workplace. France has also employee unions which are far more aggressive against bad management practices than any in the US, for example. Strikes are not uncommon, as everyone knows. I am puzzled that these complains have not lead to a unified effort, via unions or law, to seek reform. There is a board of directors, which include the nationally well-known Socialist mayor, which we hear nothing from. I never understood, and still don’t, why he is disliked by some in Lyon and the accusations are vague. If he is “difficult and demanding” you might find that to be a frequent complaint in opera houses around the world.

    • Milan says:

      I completely agree with your article!
      S.D. Seems very passionate about his job & there are probably several people who exactly don’t like that! Therefore they complain, because complaining is ever so easy. If it’s so bad at Lyon opera house the staff complaining should just leave & find another job but instead they complain.
      Respect to anyone being a CEO / company director etc although they might seem ‘glamorous jobs’ from the outside & they are able to eat in nice restaurants, this position require a lot of extra hard work.

    • Suzanne says:

      I would disagree that Lyon was a provincial house before Serge Dorny showed up. Already when he arrived Ivan Fischer was general music director! Almost no one remembers that S.D. was personally responsible for shoving him out … It’s Louis Erlo and Jean-Pierre Brossmann who successfully raised Lyon’s profile in the 80s and 90s.

    • harasob says:

      1.Have a look at the jury for the 2017 Opera Awards and you will find monsieur Dorny. Opera de Lyon was not ‘little-known provincial’ house.
      2.Brossmann and Erlo put Lyon on the map, John Eliot Gardiner was the music director, followed by Kent Nagano and Ivan Fischer. Many CD and Dvd recordings were made well before the arrival of SD.
      3. The director has a permanent contract and strongly supported by Collomb the mayor (now ministre of the Intérieur), striking brings nothing and is not as easy to organise as you may believe. SD may have not done anything illegale but the staff feel it is immoral.

  • rick says:

    It’s high time for facing court (and his board!!!!) for misuse of taxpayer’s money.
    VERY BRAVE of the employees