NEW YORK • The baton has fallen for a legendary maestro whom many consider the greatest American conductor since Leonard Bernstein.
On Monday, the Metropolitan Opera fired conductor James Levine, ending its association with a man who defined the company for more than four decades. An investigation found what the Met called credible evidence that he had engaged in “sexually abusive and harassing conduct”.
The probe, which opened in December after a report in The New York Times, found evidence of misdeeds “both before and during the period” when Levine worked at the Met, it said in a statement.
It did not release the specific findings of its investigation, which included interviews with 70 people. But it said there was “credible evidence” that Levine had engaged in questionable conduct towards “vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers”.
It said it was terminating its link with the music director emeritus and artistic director of its young artists programme.
The fall from grace marks Levine, 74, as the highestprofile figure in classical music to have his career upended during the national reckoning over sexual misconduct.
He made the Met’s orchestra into one of the finest in the world, led the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Munich Philharmonic and gained worldwide renown through recordings, telecasts and videos.
After years of ill health, he stepped down as music director two seasons ago. The company announced last month that his successor, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, would take on his new role next season, two years ahead of schedule.
But Levine’s exit does not mean that the Met is now in the clear. It faces the hard task of courting both donors and audiences as it faces difficult questions about what it knew, or should have known, about its star conductor.