The sudden departure of the lauded maestro and conductor of the Austin Opera, Richard Buckley, was announced by the Opera on February 1, 2018. A short statement was issued by the Opera stating that Buckley engaged in “inappropriate behavior in violation of the company’s policy on harassment.”
Since Buckley’s sudden departure, seven women have publicly come forward to describe a culture of permissiveness that reportedly allowed Richard Buckley to touch women inappropriately and engage in lewd talk over a period of 14 years. The list of complainants include opera employees and musicians.
According to interviews the women gave to the Austin American-Statesman, the longtime conductor and artistic director would routinely touch women’s buttocks, make lewd remarks about their bodies, make sexually explicit jokes, and gives employees unwanted massages. Even worse, the women says Opera executives and board members knew about Buckley’s behavior but failed to intervene because of the celebrated maestro’s talent.
Although Buckley’s attorney publicly states that the dismissal was the result of tension between Buckley and the Opera’s CEO, the Opera’s attorney stated, “Austin Opera leadership properly and appropriately terminated Richard Buckley’s contract — consistent with its terms — based on his inappropriate behavior in violation of the opera’s harassment policy. The notion that the termination of his contract was the result of any sort of power struggle is pure fiction.”
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