Metropolitan Opera Officially Terminates Relationship With James Levine

Classic Arts News   Metropolitan Opera Officially Terminates Relationship With James Levine
Levine, who served as music director from 1975–2016, was suspended from the organization last year as an investigation into sexual abuse allegations took place.
Metropolitan Opera Music Director James Levine
Metropolitan Opera Music Director James Levine Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

The Metropolitan Opera has fired Music Director Emeritus James Levine after finding credible evidence supporting a string of longstanding sexual assault and abuse allegations. Levine, who served as music director with the opera company for nearly 40 years, was first suspended in December as the Met launched an investigation.

The investigation followed the release of a 2016 police report, which detailed allegations made by Ashok Pai that spanned over several years, beginning when Pai was 15. Additional reports soon followed from Chris Brown and James Lestock, leading to Levine’s suspension. In each case, the victims were young students who were led to view Levine as a mentor. The unearthing of further allegations from additional individuals followed as the investigation progressed.

The Met added that in addition to its findings on the allegations against Levine, the investigation suggested that any claims of a cover-up are “completely unsubstantiated.” At the time of the investigation’s launch, General Manager Peter Gelb told the New York Times that the Met was first made aware of the initial charges in October 2016 when the police report was made, though at the time they did not hear further from the police and Levine had denied the actions in the report.

“We recognize the great concerns over these issues that have been expressed by the Met community both inside and outside of the opera house,” reads a statement from the Met, “and wish to provide the assurance that the Met is committed to ensuring a safe, respectful, and harassment-free workplace for its employees and artists.”

Levine stepped down as music director following the 2016–2106 season, with Yannick Nézet-Séguin named music director designate. Levine continued to take the podium for multiple productions. The Met announced last month that Nézet-Séguin would officially assume the title full-time this fall, fast-tracking his arrival by two seasons.

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