English National Opera is horrified by guest conductor allegations

English National Opera is horrified by guest conductor allegations


norman lebrecht

June 19, 2019

ENO has issued a statement about a former guest conductor, Stephen Lord, who has been accused in the US of sexual harrassment.

ENO is horrified to learn that allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment have been made against a freelance artist whilst he was employed by the company several years ago.

ENO has a zero tolerance approach to any form of misconduct such as those that have been alleged, and are committed to providing a safe and respectful workplace for all. This is evidenced by our Dignity at Work and Code of Conduct policies. 

We take any such allegations extremely seriously and will offer our full support to any investigation that may follow these allegations.

Lord, 70, is an American who conducted Norma in February and March 2016. He is not a regular in Europe nor, according to Operabase, one of the more sought-after maestros in the US. His career highlight was being music director of the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis from 1991 to 2017. His involvement at ENO came about, apparently, through its artistic associate Matthew Epstein, who says: ‘Stephen’s influence is very strong. If he tells me someone is good, I follow him. He is pretty much infallible, with one of the best sets of ears I know.’

Lord is now the subject of an investigation by Basil Considine at Twin-Cities Arts Reader in which a number of singers come forward to accuse him of pressuring them to have sex with him. He is also, by his own admission, a supporter of Matthew Stump, a bass-baritone whose legal bills he paid after Stump admitted sexual aggression against a colleague.

Lord has not responded to these allegations.

Read the full report here.

UPDATE: Lord resigns two opera posts.


  • christopher storey says:

    ENO should not, at this stage, be “horrified ” by anything. Nor, frankly, should it be commenting on what might become a criminal matter . What happened to the presumption of innocence ? If Lord flatly denies these allegations, will ENO be “horrified ” that someone may have been uttering malicious falsehoods and attempting to pervert the course of public justice ?

    • Roni says:

      Oh, well if he flatly denies the allegations, we should just ignore all of that “evidence” I suppose.

      • Karl says:

        We can’t see all the evidence in these trial by media cases. The accused don’t have any chance to defend themselves.

        • Roni says:

          The best defense is an impeccable professional reputation, built on a lifetime of integrity and respect for others.

          Lord’s behavior was an open secret for decades.

          • Karl says:

            Everyone knew about it but no one did anything? Sure. Or maybe someone changed the acceptable rules of behavior after the fact. All these new prohibitions against sex are going to make 90% of the male population sex offenders.

          • Saxon Broken says:

            No, it will not make “90% of males sex offenders”. Most men behave perfectly reasonably; only a small minority behave badly.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Yes, he probably looked at a a couple of females who didn’t feel “safe”. That is ‘evidence’ a criminal offence these days. Given that fact, why do female musicians continue to turn up on state as soloists wearing little but the smiles on their faces? Something isn’t consistent here.

    • Rgiarola says:

      It’s seems just the whole world, besides anglo saxons, learned something about the total failure of Concertgebouw action, and now suffering consequences for that. Real professionals never take a decision in a hurry.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Huh? Failure? Gatti was fired after an internal disciplinary hearing. He accepted it and “went quietly” since he knew he had no case.

    • Anon says:

      They aren’t falsehoods, as several of my friends can attest to, and can prove with screenshots of texts, saved conversations, and the like. It isn’t one person, it is dozens.

  • christopher storey says:

    Oh, and I should have added, since when has it been the function of Twin-Cties Arts Reader to conduct criminal investigations ? What a despicable world we live in !

    • Joe says:

      It is often journalists who investigate and report on issues that are important to the public. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who inform us.

      We have relied heavily on journalists throughout history, which is why a free press is so important. Remember how the Washington Post exposed Richard Nixon?

      • Karl says:

        I also remember how Richard Jewell was made to look like a criminal by the media. That circus went on for months. Some bogus sexual assault cases go on for years.

      • Ramone says:

        The veracity of the allegations aside, and despite how unfortunate and terrible the story is, the article in the Twin-Cities Arts Reader is poorly written and a terrible excuse for “journalism.”

        • AMM says:

          Plus, anyone who is writing about sexual assault, and then lists one of his interests as searching out mezzo sopranos, should be treated with a certain amount of scorn, I think………………

        • Tyler says:

          Then we definitely shouldn’t read it or consider any of the allegations made.

        • Anon says:

          Does eloquence equal truth?

          I have personal experience with Stephen Lord, as do several friends. One was propositioned when he was only 15 years old. These stories are true.

      • Rgiarola says:

        There is a huge difference beyween “To inform” and “To judge”.
        Nixon just gave up, he was mature enough to understand he was done politically. He wasn’t judged and condenmed by any journalist, since only the congress could do it. The press also denounced Clinton sexual and other scandals, but the congress never decided it was enough for an impeachment. So in real world doesn’t matter the opinion journalists got about an issue, but only the fact they can prove about the denouncement to the real authorities that society choose to judge.

      • Brown.sue5@gmail.com says:

        “Exposed”? Was that a Freudian slip?:-)

      • Bone says:

        Yes, I remember when journalists had integrity. Sadly, they function now with the “scoop” mentality the majority of the time: whoever gets the story out first wins! And then bury corrections deep in the entertainment section.

  • John Rook says:

    If ENO is to be ‘horrified’ by anything, it should be the proven result of wrongdoing following due procedure in a court of law. Until that point – if it ever comes – they should keep an open mind and not rush to conclusions, however fashionable this particular type of behaviour has become.

  • Renata says:

    He was apparently dismissed at New England Conservatory in 2015.

    • WWE says:

      That doesn’t surprise me. Institutions respond more decisively than some in the public at large. This can probably be chalked up to a desire to avoid lawsuits and the fact that his reputation is already well known.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        On the other hand, institutions are also nervous of being sued by their employees. They usually need some reasonable evidence of wrongdoing. There must have been some grounds to fire him.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Can someone be ”horrified” in the opera world today?

    • Feh Sheshus says:

      Yes, I imagine back to back viewing of ‘Wozzeck’ and ‘Lulu’ on a continual loop for at least 24 hours should do it.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Yes, they would have been ‘horrified’ by unwanted sexual attention from a famous director who died in the last days. But it was kept under wraps. And they might have been ‘horrified’ by the unwanted attentions of Carlos Kleiber et al. I would like that latter to have been put to the test to see how ‘horrified’ I would have been!”-) All in the name of research, of course!!

  • W. McGursky says:

    It must be very difficult for those who held this man in high esteem to modify their opinion of him. Now that multiple credible allegations have publicly surfaced, I wonder if those who aggressively defend him do so because they can’t believe they misjudged him, or because they have skeletons of their own.

    Imagine a 70-year-old man, regarded as an all-powerful “Don Juan,” whose story is changing before his eyes. Now that this has started, it’s very likely more women will come forward. He’s become the Harvey Weinstein of the opera world.

    • fildivoce says:

      Without diminishing the importance of hearing out the female survivors of these predatory behaviors, Stephen Lord’s targets were men.

  • Simon says:

    You lost me at Matthew Epstein. The one time leader of a repulsive army of opera brats.

  • Cantantelirico says:

    One of the most beloved figures on the American opera scene. I have known him for 35 years and I have never heard of such allegations of impropriety. I hardly think that this is the place where he should be judged by those whose closets are burgeoning with skeletons. As for Mr.Epstein, his stock has been greatly diminished.

    • Anon says:

      Stephen Lord is both beloved and reviled. He propositioned friends of mine, touched them, sent invites over Grindr. The allegations are true, sadly.

  • Has-been says:

    I have worked with Mr Epstein for over 40 years in his many responsibilities as a manager of some of the most important artists of the last 50 years, GM of the Welsh National Opera, consultant to more organizations than I want to list. His knowledge and helpfulness are respected throughout the music world. At the age of 70 he is still consulting and teaching in London, Frankfurt, Bordeaux, and at Curtis. His legacy is assured and unequaled.