A conductor is fired in Texas for ‘inappropriate’ conduct

A conductor is fired in Texas for ‘inappropriate’ conduct


norman lebrecht

February 02, 2018

Austin Opera has issued a terse statement terminating the contract of its artistic director and chief conductor, Richard Buckley, with immediate effect.

The company said he had been investigated for ‘inappropriate behavior in violation of the company’s policy on harassment had occurred that was not consistent with the values and standards of Austin Opera.’ After consulting lawyers it fired him. Last night’s performance of Ariadne auf Naxos was conducted in his place by Robert Mollicone.

No further details have been officially released, but a former staffer, Ellen Mason, has told the Austin-American Statesman that Buckley molested her sexually, and another woman said she had seen sexual misconduct.

‘The allegations are baseless and without merit,’ said Buckley’s spokeswoman, Stefanie Scott. ‘Richard is deeply saddened by this turn of events. He has great difficulty understanding these accusations because he was not given any information related to what he allegedly did and who made the accusations. Richard intends to explore all his legal options.’



  • herrera says:

    Where’s the English Mob Squad coming to his defence?

    • Dominic Stafford says:

      Ah! That well-known bastion of English opera, Samuel Ramey!…

    • John Rawnsley says:

      Well Herrera, or whatever your real name is, I suppose I am one of one of the ‘English Mob Squad’ you speak of, therefore I will come to his defence!
      I have known Richard for many years and I have had the pleasure of working with him on more than one occasion – singing the role of Rigoletto in Toronto and the role of Germont Pere, La Traviata in the St Barts Music Festival – he is a very fine condutor and I have always found him a complete joy to work with! I have also spent many hours in his company here in London away from music and I can say without fear of contradiction that I have never ever witnessed any sexual impropriety on his part!

      Unlike you Herrera, I am more than happy to sign my real name!

      John Rawnsley

      • MWnyc says:

        John, did you read the Austin American-Statesman story about Buckley’s firing? At least one of the allegations recounted there is pretty specific – and pretty serious.

        • John Rawnsley says:

          On your advice I have just read the Austin American-Statesman story and I have to say that it makes pretty grim and sorry reading!
          All I can say is that in all the time I spent with Richard, I never witnessed any inappropriate behaviour from him toward ladies. Furthermore, I do hope that this situation is sorted out soon – for everyone concerned.

          • Bruce says:

            One thing to keep in mind is that people who engage in this kind of behavior usually make sure there are no witnesses. (e.g. priests and little boys, Weinstein and his open bathrobe, etc. etc.) If you are not a potential target, then that’s a side of the person you would never, ever see.

  • herrera says:

    Just curious, since this has been raised, why is my last name anymore of a pseudonym than any other person’s last name?

    Herrera, because it isn’t Rawnsley or Vicker

  • Richard Cox says:

    If it is true that Mr Buckley is being forced out of his job without being told what he is alleged to have done and to whom, then he is being ‘harassed,’ (the French origin means to set the dogs on.) Such situations, as happened recently to a friend of mine, so I could see what it feels like, can also be described as Kafkaesque.

    • MWnyc says:

      Well, if he read the Austin American-Statesman story about his firing, he’ll know what the accusations are, and they’re pretty serious. (And one of the alleged incidents allegedly happened in front of Austin Opera staffers, so we’ll probably hear before long whether they back the accusation up or say it didn’t happen.)

    • Larry says:

      I find it hard to believe that he was terminated without anything being discussed with him. Surely the board would not open itself up to animosity from the audience/donor base/community without doing due diligence. Surely they must have had legal counsel.

    • Winger says:

      Please just stop trying to apologize and gin up sympathy for people like this

  • herrera says:

    I applaud the courage of these women for speaking up, as I applaud the courage of the lone Met chorus member who stood up, as I applaud the courage of management to take action in each case.

    It is evidently a shock to the system to the English Mob Squad that this could happen to “one of us”. They feel threatened to their very core, for behavior they felt acceptable (or perhaps even engaged or complicit in) for a century, but that was the 20th Century, we are now well into the 21st.

    Time’s Up.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Senor Quixote, you are fighting an imaginary windmill. There is no English Mob Squad. If you want to make broad and false generalisations, do so on some other site.

  • Nervous Nancy says:

    This was a long, long time coming. He has harassed countless women, including myself, since he has been in his post in austin.

  • anon says:

    “Richard intends to explore all his legal options.”

    We heard a similar statement from Charles Dutoit.

    The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund is there for the women.


  • James says:

    Performances are now being conducted by Robert Mollicone, not Mollicore — a very fine young conductor indeed.

  • Bruce says:

    The replacement conductor’s name is Mallicore per SD, or Mollicone per the Statesman article.

    On the Austin Opera page for Ariadne (https://austinopera.org/event/ariadne-auf-naxos/), I couldn’t find a conductor listed at all.

  • Aboltto2 says:

    I have worked in Austin many times and can say I am not surprised at all. He has practiced unsavory and inappropriate behavior on numerous occasions (In front of staff and performers) and, from what I have heard from inside sources, has been warned on numerous occasions prior to this incident.

  • YoYo Mama says:

    Allegations are hardly sufficient cause for firing. I can make allegations against anyone I feel like having fired these days, so maybe I should start doing that. How specific it is, it’s meaningless. People have absolutely no sense of ethics, justice, propriety or anything civil anymore. I am sick of this witch hunt. The so-called victims are only making themselves all the more pathetic by using the press instead of the courts. Shame on them.

    • Ben says:


      If there is a shred of truth for such sexual misconduct, the “victim” should just get law enforcement involved!

      Nowadays, any woman could blackmail any man without any burden of proof nor liability.

    • Daniel says:

      Next question from YoYoMama; “well what were they wearing?”