Met Opera Fires Conductor James Levine After Sexual Misconduct Investigation

Met Opera Fires Conductor James Levine After Sexual Misconduct Investigation

Met Opera Fires Conductor James Levine After Sexual Misconduct Investigation

New York's Metropolitan Opera said Monday it was terminating its relationship with legendary longtime conductor James Levine after finding "credible evidence" that he sexually abused younger musicians.

It said there was also evidence that the conductor abused and harassed "vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers". "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", the opera said. Levine was suspended in December 2017 when the allegations were first made public.

The Met says claims its management or board had covered up information of Levine's conduct were unsubstantiated. The Lake County state's attorney's office in IL said in December it investigated a sexual abuse allegation of misconduct dating to the 1980s but concluded "no criminal charges can be brought" and cited multiple factors, including "the relevant age of consent in IL at the time of the alleged incidents".

The investigation included interviews with more than 70 people and was carried out by and Robert J. Cleary, a partner at the Proskauer Rose law firm.

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Levine has been associated with the Met Opera for more than four decades, stepping down in 2016 as music director. In addition to roles at the Met, he was music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Ravinia festival from 1973-93 and the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 2004-11, and chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic from 1999-2004.

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. Brown, who went on to play principal bass in the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, said that one night in the dorms, Levine had masturbated him and asked him to reciprocate - and then punished Brown when he declined to do so again, ignoring him for the rest of the summer, even when he was conducting him. Levine guided the Met's orchestra for 40 years as music director.

"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.

The conductor has not been criminally charged and, unless more recent incidents are uncovered, the alleged misconduct took place too long ago for prosecution.

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