Metropolitan Opera terminates relationship with James Levine over 'sexually abusive' conduct


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". Two years ago, he had to step down due to Parkinson's Disease but has since then been a part of the company as a music director emeritus and head of the young artists program.

"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", according to the statement.

"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 said.

Mr Levine has led more than 2,500 performances at the Met, one of the world's most illustrious opera houses, and is often named among America's top conductors.

Meanwhile, the Met said that complaints and rumours that its officials or board of directors had covered up Levine's conduct were completely unfounded, adding that it seeks to ensure that its employees and artists have a safe and abuse-free environment in which to work. In addition to roles at the Met, 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.

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Some say they were teenagers at the time.

"As anyone who truly knows me will attest, I have not lived my life as an oppressor or an aggressor", he said in a statement. Additional reports soon followed from Chris Brown and James Lestock, leading to Levine's suspension.

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.

Ashok Pai said he had been abused by Levine for years, beginning in 1986 near the Ravinia Festival in IL, when he was 16. Law enforcement officials said past year that they would not bring criminal charges against Levine, noting that while the state's age of consent is now 17 - and 18 in some cases - it was still 16 in 1986.