Just in: Spanish orchestra sacks Charles Dutoit

Just in: Spanish orchestra sacks Charles Dutoit


norman lebrecht

February 04, 2020

The Filarmonica de Gran Canarias has cancelled Charles Dutoit as guest conductor in March.

Dutoit, who has been accused of offences against women, will be replaced by a female conductor.

The orchestra is the first in Spain to act against Dutoit.

Read here.



  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    He should just retire instead of trying to maintain a career conducting primarily a handful of obscure orchestras. His name will appear as the conductor of some fine recordings and his fall from grace will be a footnote. Even a more important conductor like Willem Mengelberg is today remembered for his contribution to Amsterdam’s orchestra & his friendship with Mahler, rather than the ignominious way his career ended.

  • Anon says:

    Something isn’t right about this. This is extremely unusual in Spain, where forgiveness and turning a blind eye is the name of the game. Me Too is a joke, esp. after the Domingo fiasco. There is more to this than meets the eye.

    I don’t know enough about the background on this to put together a theory, but a big clue might be that Gran Canarias’ Music Director is the UK’s Karl Mark Chichon. Dutoit’s problems began in the UK with Royal Philharmonic. That’s a connection worth considering.

    This move to ban Dutoit in Gran Canarias is a very English or American thing to do, & is completely unprecedented in Spain. It just doesn’t happen. Especially in light of what’s just come down with Placido Domingo. It makes no sense whatsoever. It leads one to believe that Chichon, who has already shown himself in Spain to be manipulative and controlling and petty, is perhaps pulling the strings and influencing the “commission” who made this decision.

    Another consideration is Chichon’s connection to the opera world. He is married to Elina Garanca. He conducts at the MET, which is actually where he was when this Dutoit announcement was made. It might be hard to separate himself from the anti Domingo “Me Too” attitude going on there now. Perhaps he expressed this concern to Gran Canarias management.

    The deciding commission who made this announcement have stipulated that Dutoit will be replaced by a female conductor. They have also specified that if the program features a soloist she must be a woman. When this March program is announced, if the featured soloist turns out to be Chichon’s wife Elina Garanca, we’ll have another big clue as to his involvement.

    This is a fabricated situation. It’s not coming out of a desire for equal rights for women or in protest of some old conductor’s behavior decades ago, it has something to do with Karl Mark Chichon’s influence and perhaps Gran Canarias, as a rather isolated island of Spain, wanting to act in a way which is modern and “with it”. The problem is that they are a part of Spain, which doesn’t do stuff like banning conductors for misbehaving. They are acting like Americans or Brits. In banning Dutoit, they are synching themselves not with Spain or continental Europe, but with the US and the UK. It’s a very jarring and unnatural juxtaposition, IMHO.

    • Ken says:

      Isn’t Grand Canarios still part of Portugal? Or did something happen with with Brexit besides “sayonara”?

    • John Kelly says:

      Adding to the above is the timing. This concert must have been booked for some considerable time (thinking that most orchestras know their schedule and chosen conductors for many months if not over a year). M. Dutoit’s alleged misdeeds have been known for at least a year. Why cancel him now and become so insistent on a female conductor? (Karina Cannelakis would be good if you ask me)……..

    • Josep says:

      In Spain, it’s only rape if the woman is injured in the course of the sexual act to which she didn’t consent. There has been huge uproar recently in several cases. In one, a woman was drugged, then gang raped. The rapists were acquitted because she wasn’t sufficiently injured – presumably because she was too drugged to resist! Perhaps someone in the orchestra is trying to lead the way towards a change in Spanish attitudes and laws. Hardly a bad thing, considering the prevailing backwardness.

    • Charlie says:

      There is an interesting article by Gonzalo Alonso with a statement by Chichon where he states he was not consulted.


    • Claudia says:

      I must point out that an orchestra from continental Europe, that of the Royal Concertgebouw, sacked chief conductor Daniele Gatti with immediate effect, citing accusations of “inappropriate behavior” after a press report.
      As for Spain and other southern European countries, just sit back and wait. Unlike what happens in other environments, cases of sexual abuse are barely outed up until now in the Spanish world of culture and entertainment. IMHO it’s a kind of panic to be judged.

  • Insider says:

    Why would they just not fire their Chef conductor instead and replace him with female conductors…

    • Anon says:

      To Charlie, yes, I saw that. But Music Directors, at least in Spain, often have very good compliance with the press where they can easily “throw the stone and hide the hand”. The current MD of Liceu comes to mind.

      Gonzalo Alonso is in Madrid, a long way from Gran Canarias. It’s not his usual beat. If this was happening in Madrid, yeah, I might believe him. But I think some press agent has just fed him this info and he printed it, probably not being fully aware of the truth. I’m a big fan of his Beckmesser blog, so I don’t blame him at all.

      • Local says:

        Dear Anon,
        Yesterday afternoon, in the digital platform of one of the local newspapers, the responsible of the Culture department from the Cabildo Insular of Gran Canaria was quoted saying that M.Chichon had been notified of the cancellation on 16th January.


        Today, in the same digital platform, M.Dutoit’s representant/agent says they “do not want the money but to conduct the concert”.


        • Anon says:

          Hi, Local, I’m also following the local news reports. Yes, it looks like Chichon was notified in Jan. and since Gran Canarias has no General Manager right now, Chichon was supposed to be the one to tell Dutoit or his agent, and to say it was for “operational reasons” which he didn’t do.

          Of course the agent wants the concert. Any agent would. That’s their professional perogative. Who would want to litigate this?

          The whole thing is tacky and amateurish and it’s a shame Maestro Dutoit ever agreed to conduct this poorly run orchestra. His history was known long before they contracted him. Why get up on their high horse now because they suddenly realized March 8 is Women’s Day? If the organizers had half a brain, they could have used that fact to their advantage. Having Dutoit conduct on Women’s Day could have been an enormous teaching and healing experience for everyone.

          Seriously, if Dutoit’s agent is reading this, he should propose that to save the concert. His client Dutoit showing his support for women everywhere by conducting on Women’s Day. Perhaps he could include a short overture by a woman composer. “Fanfare for the Common Woman” by Joan Tower, for example. It could be a cathartic and positive experience for all concerned. It would present his client in a good light. It would serve the common good, the intentions of the organizers.

          Or have Karel Mark Chichon intercede with this proposal. It looks now like Dutoit was invited at Chichon’s request. It’s in his best interest to save the concert. Switch up the programming to include a woman composer, make it a concert In HONOR of Women’s Day, keep Dutoit on the podium and it will be a big success.

  • Calvin says:

    As is reflected in the linked SD piece, the BSO made a public announced at the conclusion of an independent investigation into the claims about Dutoit. Rather than sweeping the mess under the carpet, the BSO obviously thought its public approach to the investigation findings served the greater good. In contrast, the LAO announced the fact that it commissioned a similar independent investigation of Domingo, but where is the report of the investigation’s conclusion? Or was keeping that bottled up the quid pro quo for him skipping town and making no claims under his contract?

  • Anon says:

    The other thing that’s peculiar about this situation is that the Gran Canarias “commission” that’s made this call is confusing 2 unrelated issues. Are they protesting Dutoit’s alledged misconduct in the workplace or are they making a statement that there need to be more women conductors and soloists? These are 2, possibly 3 big, unrelated issues.
    It seems like the commission, perhaps from their isolation on an island, is not understanding the issues in context with the international orch. scene.

    If they are protesting sexual harassment in the workplace, form a task force, initiate training sessions to bring awareness to workers about this issue. Spanish orchestras could certainly benefit from that. Hiring a woman conductor is not going to solve that problem. It has absolutely nothing to do with it!

    If they feel that women conductors are underrepresented, hire more women conductors. Don’t do it because you’re banning Dutoit. Dutoit has nothing to do with underrepresentation of women conductors. Don’t blame that on him, too.

    This whole thing is a very amateurish, childish move by Canarias. In this grand, attention getting gesture, Canarias has confused 2 important issues involving women and addressing neither one particularly well. They look like uninformed, unprofessional dilletantes. It’s a shame this Canarias management/commission are so amateurish, because the orchestra is really really good. The hall is terrific and they deserve better, wiser management.

    Dutoit, despite the allegations against him, is a professional and a great conductor. He also deserves better than this ridiculous Canarias commission. He should thankfully extract himself from the situation and be glad he did. “Lie down with dogs and you get up with fleas’. Fortunately now he won’t have to get up with fleas.

    Canarias may be a great orch but this proves that their management is purely amateurish. Thank heavens Dutoit was spared the experience of having to deal with them.

  • Karl says:

    Have any ticket holders demanded their money back? I would.

  • Peter says:

    I find the term “female conductor” simply offensive. Being male or female does not constitute any quality differentiation in the art of conducting. Tell us the name please, not “a female conductor”.

  • Anon says:

    Now Karel Mark Chichon says he was never consulted about the cancelation of Dutoit’s contract. He & the agent need to salvage this situation. The Canarias commission who decided this are clueless. And yes, as he states here, it DOES reflect badly on the orchestra and on him as Music Director.

    I’ll repeat my suggestion which would solve the problem: honor the contract, add a work by a woman composer and make it a concert IN HONOR of Women’s Day conducted by Dutoit.

    Big kudos to the local news source Canarias7 who are giving remarkably thorough, intelligent and up to the minute coverage of this odd situation.