Metropolitan Opera sacks legendary conductor James Levine after abuse probe

New York’s Metropolitan Opera announced Monday it fired legendary conductor James Levine, for decades the face of its orchestra, after finding “credible evidence” that he sexually abused younger musicians.

The leading US opera house had already suspended Levine in December after allegations first became public against him. Levine guided the Met’s orchestra for 40 years as music director.

The Met said it has “terminated its relationship” with Levine, who retired in 2016 amid failing health but until the scandal had remained a frequent presence as a conductor.

“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 opera house said in a statement.

The three-month investigation concludes a spectacular fall from grace for a musician often hailed as one of the top US conductors of his generation.

Fittingly perhaps, his final Met appearance was conducting Verdi’s “Requiem” in December.

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

The Met, however, also absolved itself of blame after criticism that it could have acted before longstanding allegations about Levine made headlines amid the growing spotlight in the United States on sexual abuse by powerful men.

“Any claims or rumors that members of the Met’s management or its board of directors engaged in a coverup of information relating to these issues are completely unsubstantiated,” it said.

The Met, which like many major US music institutions has a constant challenge of shoring up its finances, has acted quickly to move past the taint of Levine.

It has brought forward the appointment of Levine’s successor, youthful French Canadian Yannick Nezet-Seguin, who will become music director with the upcoming season.

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