British stage director John Copley, who was set to lead the Met Opera’s revival of Semiramide next month, has been fired after what the company described as “inappropriate behavior in the rehearsal room.”
Copley, 84, was in a rehearsal room Monday when he made what the New York Times’ describes as a “sexually charged” remark, according to a male chorus member who reported the comment to superiors.
In a statement, the Met stated that “following a complaint from a chorister about inappropriate behavior in the rehearsal room that was received on Monday, January 29, John Copley is no longer directing the revival of Semiramide that will open on February 19.”
A preeminent director in the opera world, Copley was principal resident director at the Royal Opera House in London, where he staged Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Così Fan Tutte and La Bohème.
— Musical America (@MusicalAmerica) February 1, 2018
According to the classical music site Slipped Disc, the incident occurred during a discussion of how male choristers should react to the “ghost” of Prince Assur, a character in the opera. That was when Copley reportedly joked, “If it were me I’d like to see him naked.”
The unnamed chorus member reported the comment and Met General Manager Peter Gelb fired Copley shortly thereafter.
While many in the company are complaining the response was too severe, the incident comes just a month after allegations surfaced that former music director James Levine sexually abused four male teenagers while they were his students. Questions have been raised about about what Met officials knew about Levine’s behavior and when.