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Datum objave: 04.12.2017

Conductor James Levine Suspended From Metropolitan Opera After Three Allegations of Sexual Abuse

Famed Met Opera conductor suspended

Conductor James Levine Suspended From Metropolitan Opera After Three Allegations of Sexual Abuse  

Famed Met Opera conductor suspended amid sexual abuse allegations

Met Opera Suspends James Levine After New Sexual Abuse Accusations

The Metropolitan Opera suspended James Levine, its revered conductor and former music director, on Sunday after three men came forward with accusations that Mr. Levine sexually abused them decades ago, when the men were teenagers.

Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Met, announced that the company was suspending its four-decade relationship with Mr. Levine, 74, and canceling his upcoming conducting engagements after learning from The New York Times on Sunday about the accounts of the three men, who described a series of similar sexual encounters beginning in the late 1960s. The Met has also asked an outside law firm to investigate Mr. Levine’s behavior.

“While we await the results of the investigation, based on these news reports the Met has made the decision to act now,” Mr. Gelb said in an interview, adding that the Met’s board supported his actions. “This is a tragedy for anyone whose life has been affected.”

The accusations of sexual misconduct stretch back to 1968.

Chris Brown, who played principal bass in the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra for more than three decades, said that Mr. Levine masturbated him that summer — and then coaxed him to reciprocate — when Mr. Brown was 17 at the Meadow Brook School of Music in Michigan. Mr. Levine, then 25, was a rising star on the summer program’s faculty. James Lestock said that Mr. Levine also masturbated him there that summer when Mr. Lestock was 17 and a cello student — the first of many sexual encounters with Mr. Levine that have haunted him. And Ashok Pai, who grew up in Illinois near the Ravinia Festival, where Mr. Levine was music director, said that he was sexually abused by Mr. Levine starting in the summer of 1986, when Mr. Pai was 16 — an accusation he made last year in a report to the Lake Forest Police Department in Illinois.

“I don’t know why it was so traumatic,” Mr. Brown, who is now 66, said in a recent interview at his home in St. Paul, Minn., fighting tears at the memory, which he said he was moved to share as part of the national reckoning over sexual misconduct. “I don’t know why I got so depressed. But it has to be because of what happened. And I care deeply for those who were also abused, all the people who were in that situation.”

Told of the accusations, a spokesman for Mr. Levine did not comment on Sunday night.

Speculation surrounding Mr.Levine’s private life has swirled in classical music circles for decades as he rose to a position of unprecedented prominence at the Met, leading more than 2,500 performances there. Though he stepped down as music director last year after a long struggle with health problems, Mr. Levine had been scheduled to lead a highly anticipated new production of Puccini’s “Tosca” starting New Year’s Eve and two other productions in coming months.

But now the Met — the nation’s largest performing arts organization and one of the world’s most prestigious opera houses — finds itself in the position that Hollywood studios, television networks and newsrooms have confronted in recent weeks, answering questions about what it knew about allegations of sexual misconduct against one of its stars, and what actions it did and did not take.

Mr. Gelb said allegations about Mr. Levine had reached the Met administration’s upper levels twice before, to his knowledge.

One was in 1979, when Anthony A. Bliss, who was then the Met’s executive director, wrote a letter to a board member about unspecified accusations about Mr. Levine that had been made in an unsigned letter.

“We do not believe there is any truth whatsoever to the charges,” Mr. Bliss wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, which said the Met had spoken “extensively” with Mr. Levine and his manager. “Scurrilous rumors have been circulating for some months and have often been accompanied by other charges which we know for a fact are untrue.” (Mr. Bliss died in 1991, and there is no record of the original, unsigned letter, so the specific accusations against Mr. Levine in it remain unclear.)

1979 Metropolitan Opera Letter on Accusations About James Levine

Anthony A. Bliss, then executive director of the Met Opera, wrote this letter to a Met board member who had received anonymous accusations about James Levine, the music director at the time. The accusations were made in an unsigned letter; it is not clear what information was in that letter because it is unavailable. Mr. Bliss, Mr. Connor, and Frank Taplin, then president of the Met board, are dead.

James Levine

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