Just in: Opera fires unrepentant bass-baritone

Just in: Opera fires unrepentant bass-baritone


norman lebrecht

June 14, 2019

Angry public reponses to the casting of Matthew Stump as Leporello have prompted Michigan Opera Theater to drop him within 24 hours.

MOT says: Michigan Opera Theatre has announced it will be making a casting change for the role of Leporello in the company’s fall 2019 production of Don Giovanni. Casting details will be forthcoming.

Stump was accused by a colleague, Julie O’Dell of sexual assault after she allowed him to sleep over at her place. Ms O’Dell said today: Michigan Opera Theatre – Detroit Opera House thank you for believing and protecting women. Our industry needs more institutions to take steps like this.

She added:

It was worth it. Sleeplessness, nightmares, seeing myself maligned, losing jobs, losing friends, losing face, being known for what some guy did to my body and not for my own work, turning my world upside down yet again a year later to rehash all that trauma. It was worth it, because MOT decided to believe women. In an industry where victims are terrified to go through what I’ve been through in the past year, we need more individuals and institutions to believe women.

I know my rapist has powerful allies, but to whoever worked behind the scenes to stand up for what is right and protect the women at this company and in our industry, thank you. You are making the world a safer place.


  • Cantantelirico says:

    MOT must have read the comments from your last post.

  • ThrownOutOfTheKremlinForSinging says:

    Trema, trema, o scellerato!
    Saprà tosto il mondo intero
    il misfatto orrendo e nero,
    la tua fiera crudeltà, la tua fiera crudeltà!

    Odi il tuon della vendetta,
    che ti fischia intorno intorno;
    sul tuo capo in questo giorno
    il suo fulmine cadrà, il suo fulmine cadrà!

  • fflambeau says:

    Sad. It sound like he needs counseling.

    • sycorax says:

      I think he needs to become punished. Rape is a crime and simply “counseling” isn’t enough.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Well, being punished needs the victim to go to the police and make the claim ‘on the record’. And then for a court to find him guilty.

        The problem is that trial is usually extremely unpleasant for the victim. So we end up with this very unsatisfactory situation where the man loses his job without ever having the opportunity to contest the claim. [Note, other cases have at least gone to an internal disciplinary hearing so are not the same.] This is not to say he is innocent. But we don’t want to condemn people purely on the basis of an accusation.

  • Nick says:

    Why would she allow him to “sleep over at her place” to begin with?!?

    • sycorax says:

      Because she’s a kind human being and wanted to help a colleague out? I’ve often invited travelling musicians to sleep overs at my and now our place. It certainly never meant I had any sexual interest in them!

    • Bruce says:

      Because she’s a wanton harlot who was asking for it, and was planning all along to use the incident make herself famous. OBVIOUSLY.


  • Michelle Schulman says:

    Can I ask a simple question??????? WHY are these women allowing a man to sleep over their house in the first place?

    • sycorax says:

      Oh, a round of victim blaming? I think it a cold world where a woman can’t invite a colleague into her house without fearing rape.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      The men I know would find it bizarre to be refused a sofa to sleep on by a female friend on the basis they might rape the woman.

  • AMM says:

    What a sad situation for all concerned. Unfortunate that there appears to be no police report available, to clarify the alleged offences, and a little disconcerting that MOT seem to have bowed to internet pressure—was any of this known to the theatre when the contract was issued, presumably some time ago? I wonder if there is more to the story than these allegations would suggest…………………..

    • Thomas Silverbörg says:

      Hence my questions below. Michigan seems to have a long history of hasty condemnation regarding those in the field of arts.

    • MarieTherese says:

      They knew. The entire vocal community in the Midwest knew and Stump can’t get hired anywhere. MOT is a disorganized mess and thought this would blow over.

  • B. Nieves says:

    Thank you, Ms. O’Dell, for coming forward. It takes great courage to go public with reports of sexual assault.

    Victim-blaming is inappropriate and harmful. This tendency comes from our cultural intolerance of weakness in any form. Weakness in others reminds us of our own weakness and vulnerability, so we avoid this by blaming victims for their own victimization.

    Not only is victim-blaming the most common reaction to reports of sexual assault, it is also, by far, the most damaging.

    Adults robbed at gunpoint are never condemned for peacefully complying with a criminal’s demands. The fallacy of personal power in cases of sexual assault must be debunked.

    Here are common reasons victims of sexual assault do NOT report:

    1. Shame
    2. Self blame
    3. Fear of being blamed
    4. Fear of not being believed
    5. Fear of retaliation by the perpetrator
    6. Fear of having one’s reputation ruined
    7. Belief it won’t do any good
    8. Desire to forget it happened
    9. Desire to avoid the “hassle” of reporting
    10. Being too traumatized, including PTSD

    Before commenting on these cases, please consider how hard it is to overcome all of those reasons. Survivors certainly don’t need more weight added to the burden they carry.

  • Chris says:

    I just read Mr. Stump’s apology. How can he possibly justify withdrawing his statement? You can’t unring that bell.

  • Thomas Silverbörg says:

    Does anyone know if charges were filed, or if anything came to trial? I often wonder about ‘trial by press’.

    • AMM says:

      A police report was filed(which can be viewed on Ms O’Dells’ facebook page)and no charges were brought. There was no rape mentioned in the report. Mr Stump appears to be a rather selfish, immature young man, but not the preying monster that some of the more sensational comments would suggest. Trial by internet indeed, I fear………….

      • Cecilia says:

        The idea that Stump’s actions are simply those of a selfish and immature young man is deeply disturbing. I don’t think most young men are criminals. Stump may not be a monster (though I’d hate to meet him or hear him sing), but he is predatory.

        Ms. O’Dell is not accusing Mr. Stump of rape, she is accusing him of criminal sexual contact. Sycorax used the term “rape” in her comments.

        Ms. O’Dell and/or Stump’s other accusers may yet decide to file charges.

        After reading Stump’s initial apology, I did a cursory check of sexual assault laws in Michigan. He appears to be guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the 2nd degree. He has admitted to sexual contact with another person when that other person was “physically helpless” (meaning unconscious or asleep) and therefore physically unable to communicate unwillingness to an act. If proven in a court of law, the punishment for this crime is up to 15 years in prison.

        If someone tries to rob a bank and doesn’t end up getting any money, they’re still guilty of attempted robbery.

    • Quiet observer says:

      It will take a few months for this to play out. Speaking from personal experience, my abuser was immediately fired after an article came out that exposed him as a serial predator. More victims came forward as a result of the article, and some considered filing criminal charges. After a few months, we were told to hold off, because the Department of Justice had become interested in the case. They’re currently wrapping up interviews with his numerous victims. All this to explain that we have to expect a lag between initial accusations and criminal charges being filed.

      By the way, Mr. Silverbörg, my abuser, who is now being investigated by the feds, was employed by the University of Michigan. I won’t assume he is one of those to whom you refer in your other comment. Parents of his current students did not consider his removal “hasty condemnation.”

  • Agitato says:

    I am glad she came forward to tell her story, however, let’s clearly define rape. What Stump did was disgusting but he did not force her into intercourse. He is a creep but saying he raped her is a different story.