Levine, the music director of the Met and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, tripped and fell while leaving the stage after a BSO concert on March 1. Initial x-rays showed that there were no broken bones, and the BSO and Levine expressed hope that he would return to the podium within days.
But continued discomfort in his right, or conducting, shoulder forced Levine to miss the BSO's current American tour, and an MRI eventually showed that he had torn his rotator cuff, the group of muscles and tendons that stabilize and control the shoulder joint.
Levine will miss dozens of planned appearances at the Met beginning March 20, including performances of Beethoven's Fidelio with Karita Mattila, the company's new production of Donizetti's Don Pasquale with Anna Netrebko, a revival of Robert Wilson's production of Wagner's Lohengrin with Mattila and Ben Heppner, and Wagner's Parsifal with Heppner and Thomas Hampson.
He will also miss a performance with the MET Chamber Ensemble at Carnegie Hall on March 19, a Met gala on May 20 saluting retiring general manager Joseph Volpe, and performances of Wagner's Die Walk‹re and Mozart's Don Giovanni during the tour to Japan, which takes place June 4-24.
Levine has no performances planned with the BSO for the remainder of the season. He said in a statement that he expects to lead the orchestra in summer performances at Tanglewood as planned.
"Nobody regrets this more than I do, and I can only express the enormous disappointment and frustration I feel," he said. "The music I make with my wonderful colleagues at the Metropolitan Opera and the Boston Symphony is absolutely central to my life, and I hope my recovery will go smoothly and quickly. I look forward to taking up the baton again as soon as humanly possible, and am looking forward to conducting in Tanglewood this summer and my first Met Madama Butterfly on opening night, September 25."
The Met has not yet named any replacement conductors.
Volpe said, "Of course everyone at the Met is saddened by this turn of events, but most importantly, we want Jimmy to have the time for a full and complete recovery. As the most beloved figure in our company, Jimmy certainly has the best wishes of us all."
Levine has been closely associated with the Met since 1973, as principal conductor, music director, and artistic director; during that time, according to the company, he has missed no more than "a handful" of performances, despite health problems that have forced him to conduct sitting down.