Metropolitan Opera fires James Levine after sex abuse claims

Met opera fires conductor after sexual misconduct probe

Late Monday afternoon, New York's hallowed Metropolitan Opera announced that it had fired conductor James Levine - an artist who had a close affiliation with the opera house for more than four decades - after a months-long investigation into claims of "sexually abusive and harassing conduct".

The investigation "uncovered credible evidence that Levine engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct both before and during the period when he worked at the Met", said the company in a statement. After years of ill health, he stepped down as music director two seasons ago.

The investigation also found that members of the Board of Directors and the management has been involved in covering up rumors and accusations of sexual assault made against Levine throughout his tenure at the Met.

Many of Levine's performances were televised by the Public Broadcasting Service, and singers rearranged their schedules to appear in his performances or even to audition for him. He was also removed as artistic director of the Met's young artists' programme.

The New York Post first reported about a 2016 police report in IL that alleged that Levine abused a boy starting in 1985 when the purported victim was 15.

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The Met hired former U.S. Attorney Robert J. Cleary, now a partner at Proskauer Rose, to head its investigation, and the company said more than 70 people were interviewed. In addition, he was music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Ravinia Festival from 1973-93 and the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 2004-11, and chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic from 1999-2004.

Yesterday Mr Levine, 74, was sacked as the Met's director emeritus, a job he was given following his retirement in 2016 as music director, a position he held for more than 40 years. So maybe this was the boot the Metropolitan Opera secretly wanted.

The press reports to date have focused on Levine's conduct before his Met employment.

James Lestock, a cellist, said that he, too, was abused that summer when he was a student, and said that the abuse continued in Cleveland, where a tight-knit clique of musicians followed Levine, who was then an assistant conductor at the Cleveland Orchestra on the cusp of a major career.

The opera house said it was "committed to ensuring a safe, respectful and harassment-free workplace for its employees and artists".

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