In March, Anne Sofie von Otter's husband, Benny Fredriksson, committed suicide in Sydney, Australia, after stepping down from his role as the longtime theater director of Stockholm's Kulturhuset Stadsteatern, a premier arts and culture center. In December, Fredriksson was accused by several Swedish tabloid sources of being a "capricious dictator" who engaged in sexual misconduct toward his employees.
According to Swedish media, Fredriksson required actors to rehearse naked, told an employee that she had to choose between giving up a role or having an abortion and defended male employees accused of sexual misconduct. An internal city investigation of the allegations did not verify any of the claims made against Fredriksson.
"Benny was not a womanizer; he didn't look at women's breasts or behinds," von Otter said in a recent interview with German newspaper Die Zeit.
According to von Otter, Fredriksson was "at a loss" over the "character assassination" and quickly decided to step down from his job. However, he fell into a depression and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder even after quitting his post. No one stepped up to publicly defend him out of fear of being "dragged into the muck by the media," von Otter added.
"You can break a person," von Otter said during her interview, referring to the Me Too movement as one that promotes a herd mentality and suppresses "independent, critical thinking."
The mezzo-soprano also slammed the media for using "pornographic undertones" to attract readers to tabloid content, adding that she hoped that her husband's death would be a "rude awakening" for the tabloids that tarred his reputation.
Fredriksson committed suicide in Sydney while traveling with von Otter, who was in the city to perform.
"We all have good and bad sides, but we no longer live in the Middle Ages," von Otter said during the interview. "We do not publicly pillory anyone and spit on or stone him or her."