Met Opera fires longtime conductor after sexual abuse investigation

Met Opera fires longtime conductor after sexual abuse investigation

James Levine, whose 46-year career at New York's Metropolitan Opera established him as a towering figure in classical music, was sacked by the company on Monday after an investigation found evidence of sexual abuse and harassment.

One of the world's most celebrated conductors has seen his career end in disgrace after he was found to have engaged in "sexually abusive and harassing conduct" and sacked from the New York Metropolitan Opera.

"In light of these findings, the Met concludes that it would be inappropriate and impossible for Mr. Levine to continue to work at the Met", the statement continued, in part. After The Associated Press reported sexual assault allegations against him, the Swiss conductor resigned as artistic director and principal conductor of London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and engagements were canceled at numerous orchestras. His fame transcended classical music: He shared the screen with Mickey Mouse in Disney's Fantasia 2000, and made the cover of Time magazine in 1983, under a headline proclaiming him "America's Top Maestro".

After taking an nearly two-year health-related hiatus from conducting from 2011 to 2013, Levine retired as the Met's full-time Music Director following the 2015-16 season to become Music Director Emeritus. Yannick Nézet-Séguin will take up the post of music director at the Met next season.

But his termination has dealt the Met a serious blow at a moment of vulnerability. The Met also appointed attorney Robert J. Cleary, a former US 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.

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The statement said rumors that opera's board of directors were involved in a cover-up were "completely unsubstantiated". Days later, another man told The Times that Levine had also abused him when he was in his 20s.

Levine started conducting from a chair in late 2001 and tremors in his left arm and leg became noticeable a few years later.

In an investigative piece published this month by The Boston Globe, former students at the Cleveland Institute of Music described Levine as a cultlike figure who not only coerced them into sex but controlled their lives.

The accusers said Levine had sexually abused them when they were teenagers.

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