Conductor François-Xavier Roth, head of the Cologne Orchestra and Opera in Germany, has stepped down from his duties after an article implicated him for sending SMS messages of a sexual nature, the administrative management of the Orchestra announced to AFP on Friday. The one who is also the founder of the group Les Siècles, in residence at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in recent years, will also be “replaced next season” during the concerts of this ensemble in the Parisian establishment, told AFP the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées.

In an article published on Wednesday, Le Canard Enchaîné reports testimonies from musicians – only one of whom gives his identity – having received urgent messages from the maestro in which he would show his genitals. The newspaper does not mention any possible complaint. Contacted by AFP, François-Xavier Roth’s lawyer could not immediately be reached.

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François-Xavier Roth “has decided to suspend his work with immediate effect in order to give the Gürzenich Orchestra and the Opera (…) the opportunity to clarify and address the situation,” announced the executive director of the Orchestra, Stefan Englert, in a press release sent to AFP. “As our primary objective is to guarantee a transparent and thorough explanation, structures are being put in place to investigate this matter,” he added, without further details. The Gürzenich Orchestra takes the information concerning François-Xavier Roth and the topic of sexual harassment “very seriously,” said Stefan Englert.

After the publication of the article in the satirical weekly, François-Xavier Roth, who was to conduct a Siècles concert at the TCE on Wednesday evening, was replaced at short notice by Adrien Perruchon, as indicated by France Musique on X on Thursday . Contacted by AFP, the Les Siècles group assured Wednesday that “the orchestra has never received any alert, nor any report from musicians concerning Mr. Roth, nor has it condoned the slightest abuse of power.” “No exclusion of musicians occurred at the initiative of Mr. Roth or was decided because of speaking out regarding his behavior,” she stressed.

François-Xavier Roth founded Les Siècles in 2003, the only orchestra in the world that plays multiple repertoires, from Jean-Philippe Rameau to Luciano Berio, with instruments from the period of the work. Since 2019, he has also been at the head of the Atelier lyrique de Tourcoing. He is also a long-standing guest conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra.