Opera singer Anne Sofie von Otter blames #MeToo witch-hunt for her husband’s suicide
August 3, 2018
#MeToo turns deadly
By David Walsh
3 August 2018
Anne Sofie von Otter, the famed Swedish mezzo-soprano, is speaking out to the press for the first time about the March 2018 suicide of her husband, Benny Fredriksson. She recently gave a lengthy interview to Die Zeit, the German weekly newspaper.
After Aftonbladet, a leading Swedish newspaper, published anonymous accusations that he was guilty of sexual and psychological abuse, Fredriksson resigned from his post at the Kulturhuset Stadsteatern (House of Culture and City Theatre) in Stockholm, the country’s premier cultural center and theater, in December 2017. On March 17, while accompanying his wife on tour in Australia, Fredriksson killed himself.
Toward the end of his life, his widow disclosed, Fredriksson was afraid of going out into the street for fear of being recognized. “Suddenly he turned inward and everything was about ‘what did I do wrong?’” she said, according to the Irish Times. Von Otter criticized the #MeToo herd mentality. “What has happened,” she asked, “to our independent, critical thinking?”
An investigation by the city of Stockholm, whose results were published after Fredriksson’s death, revealed there was no evidence of sexual abuse.
Fredriksson’s death was the tragic and terrible product of the ongoing sexual harassment witch-hunt, spreading within affluent upper middle-class circles from country to country like a plague. Many of the vices of this social layer—selfishness, subjectivism, vindictiveness, professional jealousy and ambition—show themselves in the Fredriksson case.
In a recent article, the Washington Post noted that for 16 years Fredriksson led the Kulturhuset Stadsteatern: “He discovered his love for theater at the age of 13 or 14 … and began working in the city theater at 16. The playhouse was an escape from Fredriksson’s hard-knock childhood, circumscribed by the one-room apartment where his family lived. His mother was an alcoholic, his wife said.”
The Irish Times reported July 27 that last December Aftonbladet “printed anonymous accusations that he [Fredriksson] was a ‘little Hitler’ who bullied and terrorised … The newspaper interviewed 40 people who claimed he had turned the centre into his own personal ‘dictatorship’, forced women to rehearse naked and pressed a woman to either have an abortion or forfeit a role.”
None of this