The classical music realm is the latest to shine a spotlight on the realities of sexual misconduct in its community and leadership. A 2016 police report obtained by the New York Times contains several allegations of sexual abuse against Metropolitan Opera Music Director Emeritus James Levine.
The Metropolitan Opera announced December 2—hours after details of the police report had been made public—that the house would begin an investigation with outside resources into the alleged events. General Manager Peter Gelb told the Times that though the investigation is launching now, the Met had been aware of the police report when it was made in October 2016.
“At the time, [Levine] said that the charges were completely false, and we didn’t hear anything further from the police,” says Gelb. “We need to determine if these chargers are true and, if they are, take appropriation action.”
The report details a years-long account from a man who was 15 when the alleged abuse began in 1985. The instances occurred multiple years, and the victim first came to a relative in 1993. The abuse intensified over time as Levine allegedly touched himself and the minor sexually “hundreds of times.” The alleger explains in the report that the misconduct continued as he sought a mentorship from the famed conductor, who had promised to see if he could “be raised special like me.”
The newly disclosed report is not the first instance of allegations against Levine; a 1987 Times piece referenced rumors of the conductor’s “private life,” to which Levine said he did not have “the faintest idea where those rumors came from or what purpose they served.”
Levine made his Met debut in 1971 and was named music director the following year. He held that title through the 2015–2016 season and has continued to conduct various productions since. He is slated to take the podium for the company’s new production of Tosca premiere later this month.
The Met’s investigation begins as a widespread conversation addressing sexual harassment and assault takes place in numerous practices and industries. This includes the theatre world, where casting director Justin Huff and playwright Israel Horovitz were removed from their positions following allegations of misconduct.