The Royal Opera House has announced its decision to fire 42-year-old tenor Vittorio Grigolo after an independent enquiry about his conduct in Japan – which resulted in a ‘brawl' – when he was with the Royal Opera on tour (read here, here and here):
Following an independent investigation into an incident involving Vittorio Grigolo in Tokyo in September, the ROH has concluded that his inappropriate and aggressive behaviour at a curtain call and afterwards fell below the standards we expect of our staff and performers.
We have therefore concluded that he will not return to perform in Lucia Di Lammermoor at the Royal Opera House in 2020. We will announce new casting for this role in due course.
The Metropolitan Opera in New York followed suit:
Following the Royal Opera House investigation into misconduct concerning Vittorio Grigolo and his subsequent suspension from performances there this season, the Metropolitan Opera confirms that he will not be singing at the Met this season.
In Instagram, Grigolo wrote:
My friends, in the past few months, I have had a lot of time to reflect on what happened in Tokyo on the 18th of September. While I was worrying about recounting my version of the facts, I neglected to express how sorry I am that this episode clouded the effort, passion and love of art that every single one of my colleagues invested in this production.
I'm aware that, even though it was never my intention to offend anyone, the situation deteriorated unexpectedly due to a brawl between colleagues.
I'm truly saddened that my behaviour towards everyone in the cast, people whom I have always respected and continue to respect from the bottom of my heart, was perceived to be below Royal Opera House standards.
I recognise that my personality can be very exuberant at times, and I am willing to make sure that what happened will not happen again in the future.
However, I'm relieved to learn that the accusations made against me by several journalists and tabloids in the past weeks have been contradicted by the results of this investigation.
This affair has deeply affected me and all of my loved ones and has allowed me to learn a precious life lessons [sic]. I'm truly sorry for all of this, and I can't wait to continue to share my art with all of you.
Many (female) colleagues have been supportive – the men wouldn't dare.
Sonya Yoncheva said,
More exuberant sincerity is needed to this world! 💋
The ever outspoken Angela Gheorghiu wrote (in Italian),
I love you Vittorio 👍🎶😍😘❤️👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏
Vittorio my dear, your exuberance and your fiery character have been truly misjudged. You're a great artist and nothing else matters! Your debut was with me and until this year we sang together all over the world with resounding success. Our relationship has always demonstrated friendship and great respect. Artists joke and play all the time, and maybe sometimes it isn't understood. A shame. Worse for them, and I'm sorry your career is damaged because of your exuberance. I hope they regret the episode and leave you in peace to continue in this wonderful and difficult job that is opera singing! You are a great and true artist and I love you so much!
Many appreciated his ‘sincerity' and complained about the ‘puritanical' attitudes of the opera houses. One wrote,
Everything needs a reasonable measure. Sometimes I see your stories on Instagram. You're funny and always good-natured. You seem like a big kid. But you're certainly not a villain or a brute. Be yourself, because without it you will cease to be Vittorio Grigolo. But just in case, keep your hands in your pockets when you sing on the same stage with hypocritical puritans.
Which is not bad advice!
Today's online version of The Times quoted a performer in the production of Faust in Toyko, where the incident occured, (on the condition of anonymity) who said that Grigolo had “groped” a dancer in a nightmarish ballet sequence. Then he grabbed her fake belly during the curtain call. The article says,
“Her immediate physical response was to push him away”, she says. She says a (male) chorus member then intervened to reprimand Grigolo. “But instead of just turning around and carrying on bowing, he grabbed her again and shook the belly, saying, ‘I can touch her like this if I want to.' ” She claims Grigolo then tried to square up to the chorus member off stage and said: “I'll meet you outside.” “It was all very confrontational.”
She says that she wants to remain anonymous because she's worried about job security and future bookings:
Particularly within opera, there's just a few roles for supporting artists — and thousands of willing participants.
But she felt she had to speak up:
It was the audacity of it, to not let it go, to not drop it and move on. Everyone on stage experienced that, and that was the shocking part of it.
Though in the same article a female member of the Royal Opera chorus says,
He's a bit of a dick, but I've never felt uncomfortable. Principals come in and some of them are dicks.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.