NEW YORK — New York’s Metropolitan Opera fires music director emeritus James Levine, finding “credible evidence” of “sexually abusive” conduct.
The Met said 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.” The company says “it would be inappropriate and impossible for Mr. Levine to continue to work at the Met.”
The 74-year-old Levine had been a towering figure in the company’s history, ruling over its repertoire, orchestra and singers as music or artistic director from 1976 until he stepped down under pressure two years ago.
The Met says claims its management or board had covered up information of Levine’s conduct were unsubstantiated.
In December, the Met said it was suspending its relationship with longtime conductor James Levine pending an investigation into multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
“Mr. Levine will not be involved in any Met activities, including conducting scheduled performances at the Met this season,” the Met said in a statement at that time. The Met also appointed attorney Robert J. Cleary, a former U.S. attorney and the current head of the investigations practice at the Proskauer Rose law firm, to lead the investigation into the allegations that took place from the 1960s to 1980s. The move to suspend Levine came after the New York Post first reported that one of Levine’s accusers claimed he had sexual contact with Levine as a teenager. Met officials said they were launching an investigation. The New York Times subsequently reported similar accounts from two other men accusing Levine of sexual misconduct.
Levine was music director at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, from 1973 to 1993. Following the December revelations, Ravinia severed all ties with the maestro and issued a statement saying :
“Based on recent accounts in the media regarding James Levine, Ravinia has severed all ties with the conductor who served as music director of the festival from 1973 through 1993. Levine was to begin a five-year term as Conductor Laureate in the summer of 2018. Ravinia maintains a zero-tolerance policy and culture on sexual harassment. We are deeply saddened by the allegations and sympathize with everyone who has been hurt.”