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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2018 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Throwing in the Towel

The Metropolitan Opera fires James Levine.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Facing the music: James Levine was fired by the Met today.
Photo by Naomi Vaughan © 2018 The Metropolitan Opera.
In a breaking story by Michael Cooper in The New York Times, the Metropolitan Opera fired longtime conductor and music director James Levine today, ending an era and a scandal at America's largest opera house.
Mr. Levine had been the center of a private investigation conducted by the opera house, following a December story in the New York Post. That article, and a follow-up piece by the Times, revealed that the 74-year old maestro had a history of engaging in inappropriate sexual contact with male teenagers. The Met did not release the full findings of its investigation.

According to a statement from the Met press office, that investigation, conducted by one Robert J. Cleary, had had "uncovered credible evidence that Mr. Levine engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct toward vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers, over whom Mr. Levine had authority." A copy of the full statement is here.

"In light of these findings, the Met concludes that it would be inappropriate and impossible for Mr. Levine to continue to work at the Met."

In addition to losing his position as Music Director Emeritus, Mr. Levine is also being relieved of his position as the artistic director of the Met's Lindemann Young Artists Program.

In addition to an international career on the podiums of Europe and America, Mr. Levine led operas at the Met for more than forty years. He stopped in 2011, when a major injury and a bout with Parkinson's disease forced him to miss two seasons. From 2013 on, he conducted in a special wheelchair on a motorized podium. He led 2,500 performances at the opera house, leading a culminating in a series of November performances of the Verdi Requiem..

The December 2nd performance, broadcast by the Met on its Live in HD program, would be his last. The New York Post published its story that afternoon, and the Times published the next day. Mr. Levine was suspended the following week.

On February 15 of this year, the Met appoiunted Yannick Nézet-Séguin as its new music director, two years earlier than planned. Reviews for Mr. Nézet-Séguin have been enthusiastic.

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.