Met sacks conductor James Levine over 'credible evidence' of abuse

James Levine

The Metropolitan Opera announced Monday that it has fired music director emeritus James Levine, finding evidence of abusive conduct.

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.

The Met, however, also absolved itself of blame after criticism that it could have acted before longstanding allegations about Levine made headlines amid the growing spotlight in the United States on sexual abuse by powerful men.

The Met suspended Levine and opened its investigation in December after The Times reported on-the-record accusations of four men who said that Levine had sexually abused them decades ago, when they were teenagers or his students.

The Met did not release specifics of the evidence, though said that more than 70 people had been interviewed.

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

Levine was music director at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, from 1973 to 1993.

The Met says claims its management or board had covered up information of Levine's conduct were unsubstantiated. Law enforcement officials said past 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. He regularly conducted at the Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Bayreuth Festival and Salzburg Festival.

His power waned only because of health problems. Levine was to begin a five-year term as Conductor Laureate in the summer of 2018. Levine had an operation in 2008 to remove a kidney and another in 2009 to fix a herniated disk in his back. He had another operation that September after falling and damaging a vertebra, an injury that sidelined him until May 2013. In 1980 he started the Lindemann Young Artists Development Program, and he has often trained promising singers, conductors, and musicians for professional careers. Read the full New York Times report here. "The artists of the Metropolitan Opera, like workers in every industry, deserve a safe place of work".

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