Met Opera fires longtime conductor after sexual abuse investigation

Rosalie Gross
March 13, 2018

New York's Metropolitan Opera fires music director emeritus James Levine, finding "credible evidence" of "sexually abusive" conduct.

The man, who is now 48 and whose name has not been revealed, said the abuse continued for years and drove him to the brink of suicide.

After taking an nearly two-year health-related hiatus from conducting from 2011 to 2013, Levine retired as the Met's full-time Music Director following the 2015-16 season to become Music Director Emeritus.

One of the world's most celebrated conductors has seen his career end in disgrace after he was found to have engaged in "sexually abusive and harassing conduct" and sacked from the New York Metropolitan Opera.

Consequently, "it would be inappropriate and impossible for Levine to continue to work at the Met", Efe quoted the statement as saying.

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"The investigation also found that any claims or rumors that members of the Met's management or its Board of Directors engaged in a cover-up of information relating to these issues are completely unsubstantiated", the statement said.

One of the documents examined during the investigation was a police report that had been filed in Lake Forest, Illinois, in October 2016, in which an unidentified man claimed that he had been the victim of sexual abuse by Levine three decades ago when he was 15 and the conductor was 41.

The more than three-month-long investigation involved interviews with more than 70 individuals, according to the Met. Many of his performances were televised by PBS, and singers rearranged their schedules to appear in his performances or even to audition for him.

He has made numerous recordings, as well as television and radio broadcasts, with the Met. Levine has also held leadership positions with the Ravinia Festival, the Munich Philharmonic, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Levine started conducting from a chair in late 2001 and tremors in his left arm and leg became noticeable a few years later. Levine had an operation in 2008 to remove a kidney and another in 2009 to fix a herniated disk in his back. Law enforcement officials said previous year that they would not bring criminal charges against Levine, noting that while the state's age of consent is now 17 - and 18 in some cases - it was still 16 in 1986.

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