Renowned conductor accused of striking singer withdraws from performances

Conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner has stepped away from his role after being accused of slapping a singer backstage at a performance in France. File Photo by Sebastian Willnow/EPA-EFE

Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner has withdrawn from all future performances for the rest of the year after being accused of slapping a singer after an Aug. 22 concert in France.

According to The New York Times, Gardiner was accused of striking singer William Thomas backstage after a performance the first two acts of Hector Berlioz's 1863 opera Les Troyens in France.

Gardiner reportedly scolded Thomas for leaving the podium incorrectly in front of fellow performers before allegedly striking him in the face.

"I am taking a step back in order to get the specialist help I recognize that I have needed for some time," Gardiner said in a statement.

"He deeply regrets his behavior and recognizes that it has had a significant impact on colleagues for whom he had the most profound admiration and respect," Gardiner's management agency, Intermusica, said in a statement.

"Eliot has striven to encourage and support generations of talented artists, and he passionately believes that all performers should feel comfortable and secure in their working environment,"

Intermusica spokesperson Nicholas Boyd-Vaughan said "over the next few months, he will be undergoing an extensive, tailored course of treatment."

In 1998, Gardiner was knighted by the late Queen Elizabeth II, and this year, he conducted the first 20 minutes of music for King Charles III's coronation.

Gardiner had a number of performances scheduled in multiple countries, including a six-concert tour in the United States and Canada.