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Friday, May 6, 2011

James Levine Goes On the Disabled List

James Levine leading the BSO in happier times.
Photo by Michael Lutch © 2009 Boston Symphony Orchestra
Conductor James Levine, who has battled back problems, cancer, and shoulder injuries in the last three years, has announced that he has cancelled all of his engagements until October.

The Metropolitan Opera music director, who stepped down from his concurrent post as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra this Spring, has announced that he will not be leading the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra's scheduled May 15 concert at Carnegie Hall. Fabio Luisi, who accepted the post of Met principal guest conductor last year, will step in, and lead Strauss' warhorse Don Juan in place of the scheduled Debussy.

Mr, Levine will not be joining the opera company on its scheduled tour of Japan next month. Mr. Luisi, currently leading performances of Ariadne auf Naxos, will take his place. Met opera-goers can expect Mr. Levine to return to service on Oct. 13. He is slated to lead the premiere of the Met's new production of Mozart's Don Giovanni.

However, the conductor will honor his commitment to lead the last two performances of Die Walküre at the Met this season, scheduled for Monday, May 9 and Saturday, May 14. Saturday's performance is also the Met's HD broadcast of the opera, starring Deborah Voigt and Bryn Terfel.

The cancellations also apply to Mr. Levine's commitments at the summer Tanglewood festival. The Boston Symphony Orchestra is expected to announce a slate of guest conductors to lead the orchestra's summer schedule at the venerated festival in Lenox, MA. As of this writing, the planned Tanglewood performance of Debussy's opera Pelléas et Mélisande is already nixed.

In related news, the Boston Symphony Orchestra has announced its 2011-2012 season, the first in seven years without Mr. Levine's influence. Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter will lead the opening concerts of the season, as the venerable orchestra continues its hurried search for a new Music Director.

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