Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
Health Care | By Alberto Manning

Peter Gelb cancels Four Arts talk after the Met fires James Levine

Peter Gelb cancels Four Arts talk after the Met fires James Levine

New York's famed Metropolitan Opera has severed ties with its longtime conductor and figurehead James Levine, its Music Director Emeritus and Artistic Director of its young-artist program, after completing an investigation into sexual misconduct claims.

"The investigation uncovered credible evidence that Mr. Levine had engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct both before and during the period when he worked at the Met", the company said in a statement.

The Met said in a statement Monday that its investigation found Levine "engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct towards vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers".

Meanwhile, the Met said that complaints and rumours that its officials or board of directors had covered up Levine's conduct were completely unfounded, adding that it seeks to ensure that its employees and artists have a safe and abuse-free environment in which to work.

"We just announced the termination of James Levine's contract, obviously a major event in the history of the Met, and it is therefore necessary that I not leave NY at this critical time", Gelb wrote in an email to Four Arts President David Breneman late Monday afternoon.

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The investigation included interviews with more than 70 people.

The conductor has not been criminally charged and, unless more recent incidents are uncovered, the alleged misconduct took place too long ago for prosecution. Many of his performances were televised by PBS, and singers would rearrange their schedules to appear in his performances or to audition for him.

He made the Met's orchestra into one of the finest in the world, led the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Munich Philharmonic and gained worldwide renown through recordings, telecasts and videos.

His power waned only because of health problems. He had another operation that September after falling and damaging a vertebra, an injury that sidelined him until May 2013. So maybe this was the boot the Metropolitan Opera secretly wanted.

Yesterday Mr Levine, 74, was sacked as the Met's director emeritus, a job he was given following his retirement in 2016 as music director, a position he held for more than 40 years.

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