Abuse and the Opera – James Levine is out! Or?

MET conclusively fires James Levine after its own investigation

By Opera Views, March 19th, 2018
Levine, James
James Levine. Foto source

Meanwhile, it does sound like a true Wagner opera: The aged Knight of an Opera Button, who for more than 40 years dutifully served several Kings of the Opera Castle, is accused of professional misconduct and sexual assault! He is shamefully ousted out of the Opera Castle, (MET), in an attempt to save the reputation of the Kingdom, and is replaced by the Young uprising and full of youthful energy Knight.

The Old Knight is battling back without any chance to win, let alone to be in any way reimbursed for his loyal duty and hard work. The end of the drama is for both shameful and the young Knight comes out as a true and the only winner!

Yes, it is about James Levine and the MET: A star musical conductor of the House, an exceptional musician and one of the legends of the Metropolitan Opera House!

Almost four months after the investigation, which the MET initiated after a report in The New York Times, the House stated, that evidence of sexual abuse and harassment “both before and during the period” when Mr Levine worked at the Met is being confirmed. The MET announced that

“After considering the findings of a thorough investigation conducted by outside counsel that lasted more than three months, the Metropolitan Opera has terminated its relationship with James Levine as Music Director Emeritus and Artistic Director of its young artist program.”

The 222 words statement sounds well thought-through, clear and poignant in language. It leaves no doubts about the finality of the decision and attempts to clear the House from any responsibility of allegedly covering up Levine´s  behaviour:

“The investigation also found that any claims or rumours that members of the Met’s management or its Board of Directors engaged in a cover-up of information relating to these issues are completely unsubstantiated.”

So far one could say: Well, if these kind of truly horrible accusations are correct, then the MET´s decision can be considered a logical and absolutely necessary one. But! On March 15th Mr Levine fired back by filing a return suit against the MET stating:

“The Met, lacking contractual authority, suspended Maestro Levine without even the courtesy of a conversation regarding the substance of the allegations or the basis of his suspension,” the lawsuit begins.”
#Peter Gelb
@Dario Acosta, MET

The latest at this point some urgent questions arise:

  1. Did MET REALLY didn´t know about this ugly stuff going on behind the doors of rehearsals rooms etc.?
  2. By whom or WHO exactly conducted the investigation?
  3. How MANY VICTIMS are there altogether?
  4. Is MET going to be FINANCIALLY RESPONSIBLE for the victims’ sufferings?
  5. How about THE CLOSE CIRCLE of Levine’s assistants, associates, staff, managers? Did they cover thing up too?
  6. How the MET Board is going to act i.e. what is going to do to AVOID THESE to happen in the future?

These are questions and issues MET and Board will have to deal now with. Considering financial and audience attendance struggles the House is repeatedly facing for years, this move is nothing but to remove this repeatedly protracted purulent wound without leaving any image-damage-scar.

For Mr Levine himself, there is no way back. His attempt to make MET responsible for not taking actions while the House “was aware of the 2016 police report filed against him, but took no disciplinary action” sounds more than laughable, considering the fact that for years, even though most on the level of  press gossip, he was being repeatedly accused of sexual misbehavior. Levine also blames the company for

“…cynically hijacking the goodwill of the #MeToo movement,” and “brazenly seized on these allegations as a pretext to end a long-standing personal campaign to force Levine out of the Met and cease fulfilling its legally enforceable financial commitments to him.”

But what did he expect? Does he realize what is happening here? Is he aware of what he has done? Did he ever apologize to the victims? And who is really cynical here? The man seems to live in his own world without reflection upon his deeds and their consequences.

And, as they say: the Holy place doesn´t stay empty for long! The new musical chef Yannick Nézet-Séguin is stepping in already this fall and needs to be paid too? Considering the high level of Levine´s salary, of more than $2 Million p.a. (per 2010), these are enough money to invest in the new, young, fresh and extremely energetic artistic image of the House.

But, we are talking about opera. Let’s wait and see. This story is not finished yet and definitely, will continue to have an impact on MET public image, its struggle to clear it up and most definitely cast a unfavourable shade upon the wonderful genre of the opera.

 

 

2 comments

  1. I was involved in the opera world when Levine’s peccadillos became ”vox populi” back in the 80’s. Word was that the board and some superstar performers paid the NYT to keep silent. Levine ruined many careers during his time at the MET. Now he feels entitled because, like Weinstein, he was made to feel Like a God. Proof is that when someone mispronounced his name, he corrected them by saying the last syllable was pronounced like “divine.”

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    1. Thank you for your Feedback. Opera Views is very much interested in opening up an active discussion about this burning subject. Please share this article and let’s talk. Best wishes. Your Opera Views

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