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Chorus members are ten a penny, great opera directors aren't.  I know  which one I'd have sacked.  This is unbelievable.

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6 minutes ago, Mashinka said:

Chorus members are ten a penny, great opera directors aren't.  I know  which one I'd have sacked.  This is unbelievable.

If an opera director in your employ said, in the workplace, to a chorus member, "I'm thinking of you in my bed with your clothes off," you'd have fired the chorus member? Why?

(Note that Copley reportedly "did not deny the incident.")

Edited by nanushka

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Also, chorus members are not "extras"......many could have had major careers but chose not to globe trot and opt for a steady job and steady pay and settle down. Just because they are in the chorus doesn't make them lesser artists. They aren't all failed soloists. Many just didn't want to do what it takes for a major, international career.

Why should a chorus member have to put up with that no matter who said it if she or he was in the workplace and had no interest in sleeping with Copley?

There are plenty of opera directors as well, and no one is indispensable.

Some people might choose to laugh it off or tell him, "No chance in that!" but someone who chooses to get upset has that right too. We are taught that the workplace is a professional place. Most companies even have trainings. Of course, people continue to break the rules and often it goes unreported for various reasons, but when it does get reported that is a person's right, in my opinion. If I had a daughter and some old man said that to her I would be furious.

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What's unbelievable to me is that anyone in a prominent, powerful position in the arts who's been awake for the past 6 months would say something like that to a colleague in the workplace. Pretty unwise, among other things.

Edited by nanushka

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1 hour ago, nanushka said:

If an opera director in your employ said, in the workplace, to a chorus member, "I'm thinking of you in my bed with your clothes off," you'd have fired the chorus member? Why?

(Note that Copley reportedly "did not deny the incident.")

Why did they fire Copley for fairly innocuous banter?

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6 minutes ago, Mashinka said:

Why did they fire Copley for fairly innocuous banter?

Why they fired him seems a fair question, and one that might certainly be worth discussion. You suggested that the chorus member should have been fired, though, which would seem to me not at all appropriate.

As for "fairly innocuous banter" — well, I'd suggest it takes two to "banter," and the other party was apparently not a willing participant in this exchange. And personally, if I were a chorus member and my director said to me, in the workplace, in front of another colleague, that he was thinking of me in his bed with my clothes off, I would certainly not feel that that was "innocuous." I'd be pretty disturbed. And I personally don't think that professionals in the workplace should be expected to tolerate that sort of treatment, especially from a person in a position of power. Again, as for whether that calls for firing may be up for debate.

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3 minutes ago, Mashinka said:

Why did they fire Copley for fairly innocuous banter?

It would seem that the chorister didn't find the banter innocuous, but I think the situation should have been handled without firing Copley. We are talking about a man in his 80's who, I assume, has engaged in that kind of banter for years with no repercussions or even with getting a laugh. Times change and he needs to be educated, but firing him seems an over reaction. The chorister not being able to go to work that evening, and not wanting to see Copley again, even in the hallways also seems an out of proportion reaction to an inappropriate statement. I fear a sense of proportionality is being lost.

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Having worked in UK theatres I can assure you his comment was small beer compared to some things I've heard.  Mr Copley, as an octogenarian wouldn't exactly pose any kind of threat.    All of this is beyond my comprehension.

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4 minutes ago, Mashinka said:

Having worked in UK theatres I can assure you his comment was small beer compared to some things I've heard.  Mr Copley, as an octogenarian wouldn't exactly pose any kind of threat.    All of this is beyond my comprehension.

If by "threat" you mean a threat of physical violence, that's perhaps true — though we don't really know enough about the comparative physical capacities of Copley and the chorus member to judge, I'd say.

But sexual harassment is not generally considered problematic behavior simply because it could be followed up by physical violence/rape/etc. It's problematic behavior in and of itself. And there are certainly other, non-physical ways in which a person in power could be a "threat" to a colleague in the workplace.

I also don't believe that professionals working in the arts should be held to any lower of a standard than professionals in any other field. I don't see how it's any different from a case in which an attorney tells a law clerk, "I'm thinking of you in my bed with your clothes off."

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Copely obviously thought there would be no repercussions for his public behavior.  He bet that what was business as usual for him would be tolerated, and he made the wrong bet.

There are plenty of theater directors who are available to step in, many of them just as brilliant and accomplished, and, being brilliant and accomplished hardly excuses his behavior.

Not that this pertains to whether Copely was rightly fired for this witnessed misconduct, for which chorus qualifications are irrelevant, Met choristers are full-time professionals.  There was great outrage when it was reported in the press that they could make over 100K/year, which, in a house like the Met, which has seven performances/week from September-May with possibly a single break in January -- the calendar on the Met website won't show before February -- of 25-30 operas in rep, and rarely one without a chorus, and every chorus member is expected to have the vocal skills the equivalent of a Principal Dancer, but to be able to blend into a chorus.  If you take a ballet dancer's schedule, and then add in homework on top of that -- ie, learning scores and languages, taking notes to remember the staging of half of the rep at any given time, like asking dancers to sing or recite and dance -- I think they earn every penny as well as their reputation as one of the world's great choruses of any kind.

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13 minutes ago, nanushka said:

I also don't believe that professionals working in the arts should be held to any lower of a standard than professionals in any other field. I don't see how it's any different from a case in which an attorney tells a law clerk, "I'm thinking of you in my bed with your clothes off."

An adult would either laugh it off or respond with a ripe riposte

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27 minutes ago, Mashinka said:

An adult would either laugh it off or respond with a ripe riposte

A true professional and an adult wouldn't have made the comment in a professional setting in the first place.

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6 hours ago, Mashinka said:

Chorus members are ten a penny, great opera directors aren't.  I know  which one I'd have sacked.  This is unbelievable.

Mashinka, with all due respect, it's pretty much that kind of thinking that has allowed pervasive sexual harassment to flourish. The harasser has power and fame, the victims are "ten a penny." That's how someone's humanity is diminished. When management is willing to listen and give credit to the complaints of a single chorister when made against a figure as big as Copley, that's actually a good thing. 

I'm reserving judgment here because there seems to be some debate on exactly what happened, what was said, and the context in which Copley's remarks were made. I am glad the union is asking questions to ensure that the punishment was appropriate, as it should.

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4 hours ago, Mashinka said:

An adult would either laugh it off or respond with a ripe riposte

Unfortunately what you are expressing is the "Can't you take a joke?" attitude.  Women (and men) in professional settings should not have to put up with these "jokes" when they're not really jokes (as in, the object doesn't find them funny, or they imply some damage to the object's career prospects if they don't act as if it's funny.  It's the same as with other "jokes" (ethnic, etc)--yes, one could fire back, but it's tiresome and juvenile and degrading.

...and now I am thankful that I work in a quite boring agency where people don't feel so..."free".

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A couple of opera singers are saying openly that what happened was John Copley said he would like to see the Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov, who is playing Assur, naked, and a non-native speaker mistook the comment to mean Copley wanted to see him (the chorister) naked. The chorister reported it and later regretted it. Apparently, Ildar, according to Sarah Connolly, went to see Gelb to save Copley, but it did no good.

So maybe it is an overreaction if that is the case. The initial report made it sound very different.

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First, are these opera singers saying this openly in social media?  On the radio?  Please provide details.

Second, even if it was addressed to Abdrazakov openly in a rehearsal, why is that more acceptable?  It may have not been reported at all if it were understood to be directed to someone else, particularly a principal singer: people have lived with their discomfort for forever and have witnessed a lot of unacceptable and harassing behavior without taking action. However, you don't have to be the person to whom it was addressed for it to be inappropriate and actionable in a work environment.  Had Copely said this to Abdrazakov privately in a rehearsal room, then it would be up to the bass to bring it to anyone's attention.

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Personally I think I’ll continue to trust what the Times is reporting over what a couple of opera singers are saying.

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In the second NYT article, the union, is saying that it could have been resolved without the firing, and

Quote

But officials at the union, the American Guild of Musical Artists, said there appeared to have been a miscommunication, and that they believed the episode could have been resolved amicably without firing Mr. Copley.

The union represents the chorister and all choristers and the director, which is an interesting juggling act.

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A lot of singers using their own name have weighed in on Slipped Disc, a famous classical music blog:

http://slippedisc.com/2018/02/exclusive-why-peter-gelb-fired-uncle-john-copley/

http://slippedisc.com/2018/02/john-copley-responds-to-met-dismissal/

http://slippedisc.com/2018/02/the-met-must-apologise-to-john-copley/

Names include Sam Ramey, Sarah Connolly and Anne Evans.

Edited by canbelto

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Wait, so these are opera singers who weren’t even present? So the fact that they’re opera singers is actually irrelevant to how trustworthy their statements may be?

Edited by nanushka

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Presumably opera singers that aren't pitchfork waving puritans.

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45 minutes ago, Mashinka said:

Presumably opera singers that aren't pitchfork waving puritans.

It seems that Copley had established a good working relationship with singers at the Met. I still an puzzled that one inappropriate remark, reported to Gelb, got the man fired. If this is the way of the world few people will remain in their jobs. Again I say that the chorister being so traumatized as to not be able to go on at the evening show is weird.

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So did James Levine.

Being congenial and beloved doesn't mean that someone can't commit a fireable offense.  And since there are a lot of eyes looking, there are things that can no longer be swept under the rug, and organizations are under pressure to act quickly going forward, particularly when there is a formal complaint.

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4 minutes ago, Helene said:

So did James Levine.

Being congenial and beloved doesn't mean that someone can't commit a fireable offense.  And since there are a lot of eyes looking, there are things that can no longer be swept under the rug, and organizations are under pressure to act quickly going forward, particularly when there is a formal complaint.

At the moment, it seems like this was based on one remark, not a history such as James Levine's. The question is, is a remark that is found to be offensive a firing offense. We are not talking about a history of sexual abuse. I believe that a sense of proportionality is being lost. 

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