NEW YORK (AP) — New York's Metropolitan Opera said Thursday that it had fired world-renowned British stage director John Copley for what the company called "inappropriate behavior" during a rehearsal.
The 84-year-old Copley was let go two months after the Met suspended its music director emeritus, James Levine, pending an investigation into sexual abuse allegations against him.
"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 (Copley's own 1990 production of Rossini's) 'Semiramide' that will open on February 19," the Met said in a statement released to The Associated Press.
The director was fired on Tuesday after he was called to the office of Met General Manager Peter Gelb, according to a person familiar with the company's decision who spoke on condition of anonymity because that information was not publicly revealed.
The complaint came from a member of a male chorus whose name was not released, the person said.
Met spokesman Tim McKeough offered no details and Copley's agent declined to comment.
Copley has worked in some of the world's major opera houses, including London's Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, the English National Opera and Opera Australia.
On his Facebook page, musicians who admire his work posted reactions to his firing.
"Having been in the rehearsal room of 'Semiramide' for the last few weeks I can only echo the dismay and outrage that so many of you have in relation to our incredible director, the one and only John Copley," wrote Australian soprano Helena Westwood Dix, suggesting that whatever Copley may have said was intended as "incredible HUMOUR."
"I use that last word," she added, "because it seems we are faced with the grave fact that people seem to not understand what this word is and how it is used."
Baritone Richard Morrison said on Twitter: "What sort of humourless, vindictive, insecure tosser fires a great opera director like John Copley for making a harmless joke in rehearsal?"
The Met suspended its relationship with Levine in December after more than four decades while it investigates multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. The 74-year-old conductor has denied any wrongdoing. His appearances the rest of the season have been canceled.