March 19, 2018

Met Opera conductor fired over sex claims

13 March 2018, 07:01 | Sheila Mcguire

Metropolitan Opera fires James Levine after finding 'credible evidence' of sexual abuse

Boston Symphony Orchestra music director James Levine conducts the symphony on its opening night performance at Tanglewood in Lenox Mass. The Met Opera has fired music director emeritus James Levine findin

Acclaimed conductor James Levine was sacked Monday by the Metropolitan Opera after an investigation uncovered credible evidence of "sexually abusive" conduct.

"The investigation uncovered credible evidence that Mr. Levine had engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct both before and during the period when he worked at the Met", the company said in a statement.

The Met says claims its management or board had covered up information of Levine's conduct were unsubstantiated. The Met did not release the specific findings of its investigation, which it said had included interviews with 70 people.

Levine, who served as the Met's musical director for 40 years until he retired from that position in 2016, has denied the accusations. He was also music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Read the full New York Times report here. Days later, another man told The Times that Levine had also abused him when he was in his 20s.

The opera suspended Levine after the Times published accounts from three accusers who say that Levine sexually abused them when they were teenagers.

Quoting former students, the newspaper said that Levine would pressure them to cut off ties with the outside world and pledge loyalty to him as he led meetings that involved everything from studying opera scenes to anonymous sex.

Levine began his musical career in his hometown, making a solo debut during a youth concert with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra when he was 10.

Ashok Pai said he had been abused by Levine for years, beginning in 1986 near the Ravinia Festival in IL, when he was 16. He conducted 2,552 performances and held sway over its repertoire, orchestra and singers as music or artistic director from 1976 until 2016 when he stepped down due to Parkinson's disease. Three decades later - after, Pai said, therapy had helped him realize how destructive those encounters had been - he detailed his accusations in the fall of 2016 to the Lake Forest Police Department in IL.

Levine's termination comes roughly a month after the Met fired British stage director John Copley over allegations of "inappropriate behavior" during a rehearsal.

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