Metropolitan Opera fires music director after sexual abuse investigation

James Levine in 2009

Michele McDonald Globe staff File James Levine in 2009

Late past year, three men came forward with allegations of misconduct against Levine in a report in the New York Times, and Levine was suspended.

The allegations detailed in the NYT included assertions that Levine engaged in sexual activity with teenage boy musicians in ensembles he conducted, and go as far back as 1968, when he was a member of the faculty at the Meadow Brook School of Music in MI.

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.

The conductor in an earlier statement called the allegations against him "unfounded", saying he was not an "oppressor or an aggressor". However, no specifics were revealed but the investigation did find that Levine harassed and abused artists at early stages of their careers.

After considering the findings of a thorough investigation conducted by outside counsel that lasted more than three months, the Metropolitan Opera has terminated its relationship with James Levine as Music Director Emeritus and Artistic Director of its young artist program.

The Met added that in addition to its findings on the allegations against Levine, the investigation suggested that any claims of a cover-up are "completely unsubstantiated".

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Levine, who served as the Met's musical director for 40 years until he retired from that position in 2016, has denied the accusations.

Albin Ifsich told the New York Times that Levine, now 74, began abusing him in 1968 when he was 20 years old and continued for several years.

A leadership transition was already underway at the Met, following Levine's retirement as music director in 2016.

His power waned only because of health problems.

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. Brown, who went on to play principal bass in the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, said that one night in the dorms, Levine had masturbated him and asked him to reciprocate - and then punished Brown when he declined to do so again, ignoring him for the rest of the summer, even when he was conducting him.

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