Metropolitan Opera fires music director emeritus, Cincinnati native James Levine

Tonya Becker
March 13, 2018

The Met said it had found "credible evidence that Mr Levine engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct toward vulnerable artists in the early..." "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". Up until now, all public allegations against Levine had concerned an earlier era in his career, before he became principal conductor at the Met in 1973. In his absence, Dallas Opera music director Emmanuel Villaume directed seven Met performances of Puccini's Tosca. His fame transcended classical music: He shared the screen with Mickey Mouse in Disney's Fantasia 2000, and made the cover of Time magazine in 1983, under a headline proclaiming him "America's Top Maestro".

Levine has always been one of the most famous maestros in the world of classical music, and for more than 40 years his career has been entwined with the Met, where he served as music director from 1976-2016.

The Met said in its statement that it had ended its relationship with Levine because of his sexually harassing and abusive conduct over decades. After years of ill health, he stepped down as music director two seasons ago.

The statement said rumors that opera's board of directors were involved in a cover-up were "completely unsubstantiated". Levine called the accusations "unfounded", saying in a statement that "I have not lived my life as an oppressor or an aggressor".

James Levine, whose 46-year career at the Metropolitan Opera established him as a towering figure in classical music, was sacked by the company on Monday after an investigation found evidence of sexual abuse and harassment. Levine was to begin a five-year term as Conductor Laureate in the summer of 2018. In 1980 he started the Lindemann Young Artists Development Program, and he has often trained promising singers, conductors, and musicians for professional careers.

The man claimed that the abuse - including Levine sexually touching him and masturbating in front of him - lasted from 1985 to 1993 and during that time the conductor gave him $50,000 in cash.

He said he was reaching out to police in Lake Forest because some of his encounters with Levine took place there in the mid-1980s. Met officials said they were launching an investigation.

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