Sir. John Eliot Gardiner Apologizes in Statement & Withdraws from ‘Les Troyens’ Tour

By Francisco Salazar

Sir. John Eliot Gardiner has broken his silence and apologized for having assaulted bass William Thomas at the performance of “Les Troyens” in France.

In a statement the conductor said, “I deeply regret the incident which occurred at the Festival Berlioz at La Côte-Saint-André on Tuesday evening and apologise unreservedly for losing my temper immediately after the performance. I make no excuses for my behaviour and have apologised personally to Will Thomas, for whom I have the greatest respect. I do so again, and to the other artists, for the distress that this has caused. I realise how much this has affected all the participants involved in this major project and which has been so dear to my heart.”

He added, “I have returned to the UK and have decided to withdraw from conducting all the remaining performances of Les Troyens. I wish Dinis Sousa and all the musicians great success for the remaining concerts on the tour. I know that physical violence is never acceptable and that musicians should always feel safe. I ask for your patience and understanding as I take time to reflect on my actions.”

The statement comes after the BBC Proms announced that Gardiner had pulled out of his performance on Sept. 3. It also comes hours after Thomas’ management released a statement that condemned the behavior and said that “All musicians deserve the right to practice their art in an environment free from abuse or physical harm.”

On August 22, Gardiner assaulted Thomas backstage during a performance of Berlioz’s “Les Troyens” because he exited the podium on the wrong side after the first part of the opera. According to reports, Gardiner “rebuked the singer in front of the cast before he slapped and punched him in the face.”