San Francisco Opera cuts ties with star accused of sexual assault

Susan Graham and David Daniels of San Francisco Opera in a file photo. (Courtesy photo)

San Francisco Opera has severed connections with superstar countertenor David Daniels, 52, who was to appear in its next summer’s production of Handel’s “Orlando,” because the singer is embroiled in at least two allegations of sexual assault.

In a statement released Thursday, the Opera noted that the decision “for business and professional reasons, was reached after considerable deliberation given the serious allegations of sexual assault, an ongoing police investigation and a lawsuit filed against the American opera singer.”

The police investigation stems from an incident that baritone Samuel Schultz, 32, claims happened to him in March of 2010, when Daniels and his boyfriend (now husband Scott Walters) drugged and raped him at a party following a Daniels performance at Houston Grand Opera.

Schultz, who was an aspiring student at the time, initially kept quiet out of fear for his career. But the allegations surfaced when, motivated by the #MeToo movement, he posted an online account of the assault by “a celebrated opera singer” and subsequently identified Daniels in a New York Daily News story published in August.

In a lawsuit filed Oct. 24 against Daniels and the University of Michigan, where the countertenor is now on leave from the music faculty, student Andrew Lipian alleges that he was also given drugs and sexually assaulted by Daniels in March 2017.

His suit further alleges that the university knew of Daniels’ history of sexual misconduct and was “deliberately indifferent.” Daniels has won many of opera’s top prizes and appeared on its most prestigious stages. It was Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who presided over his marriage ceremony to Walters, a conductor, in 2014.

His history with San Francisco Opera dates back to his 1997 debut as Nerone in Monteverdi’s “L’Incoronazione di Poppea.” Since then, he has appeared in the title role of Handel’s “Giulio Cesare” in 2001, and three other Handel operas in 2005, 2011 and 2014. A replacement for his role in “Orlando” will be announced at a later date.

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