Met Fires Levine

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IcedNote
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Met Fires Levine

Post by IcedNote » Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:42 pm

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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by lennygoran » Tue Mar 13, 2018 8:01 am

For those who can't get to the site here's the article. Regards, Len


James Levine’s Final Act at the Met Ends in Disgrace

By MICHAEL COOPER MARCH 12, 2018


The Metropolitan Opera fired the conductor James Levine on Monday evening, ending its association with a man who defined the company for more than four decades after an investigation found what the Met called credible evidence that Mr. Levine had engaged in “sexually abusive and harassing conduct.”

The investigation, which the Met opened in December after a report in The New York Times, found evidence of abuse and harassment “both before and during the period” when Mr. Levine worked at the Met, the company said in a statement.

It was an extraordinary fall from grace for a legendary maestro, whom many consider the greatest American conductor since Leonard Bernstein.

The Met did not release the specific findings of its investigation, which it said had included interviews with 70 people. But the statement said that the investigation had “uncovered credible evidence that Mr. Levine engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct toward vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers, over whom Mr. Levine had authority.” It said that it was terminating its relationship with Mr. Levine, who is currently the company’s music director emeritus and the artistic director of its young artists program.

“In light of these findings,” the statement continued, “the Met concludes that it would be inappropriate and impossible for Mr. Levine to continue to work at the Met.”
Photo
A curtain call after Wagner’s “Das Rheingold” in 2010 with, from left, François St-Aubin, costume designer; Carl Fillion, set designer; Mr. Levine; and Stephanie Blythe, mezzo-soprano. Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

A spokesman for Mr. Levine said that he did not have an immediate comment.

Mr. Levine, 74, has become the highest-profile 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. 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.”

Even before the accusations, the Met had been moving toward a post-Levine era. After years of ill health, he stepped down as music director two seasons ago. The company announced last month that Mr. Levine’s successor, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, would take on his new role next season, two years ahead of schedule.

But his termination has dealt the Met a serious blow at a moment of vulnerability. The company, the largest performing arts organization in the nation, costs close to $300 million a year to run, making it highly reliant on the generosity of donors — a dependence that has only grown as it has faced a box-office slump. Now the Met finds itself forced to court both philanthropists and audiences as it faces difficult questions about what it knew, or should have known, about its star conductor.

The Met suspended Mr. Levine and opened its investigation in December after The Times reported on-the-record accusations of four men who said that Mr. Levine had sexually abused them decades ago, when they were teenagers or his students. Mr. Levine called the accusations “unfounded,” saying in a statement that “I have not lived my life as an oppressor or an aggressor.”
Photo
Bows after Saint-Saëns’s “Samson et Dalila” in 1998, with, from left, Mr. Levine, Plácido Domingo and Olga Borodina. Credit Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

But some questions arose early on about how the company had handled the case, including the fact that it began its investigation more than a year after Peter Gelb, its general manager, was first told that the police in Illinois were investigating an accusation that Mr. Levine had sexually abused a teenage boy there in the 1980s.

Mr. Gelb has said he briefed the leadership of the Met’s board about the police investigation and spoke with Mr. Levine, who denied the accusations. But Mr. Gelb said that the company took no further action, waiting to see what the police found.

The Met said that its investigation, which was led by Robert J. Cleary, a partner at the Proskauer Rose law firm who was previously a United States attorney in New Jersey and Illinois, had determined that “any claims or rumors that members of the Met’s management or its board of directors engaged in a cover-up of information relating to these issues are completely unsubstantiated.”

The accusations against Mr. Levine reported in The Times went back decades, and shared marked similarities.

Chris Brown said that Mr. Levine had abused him in the summer of 1968, when he was a 17-year-old student at the Meadow Brook School of Music in Michigan and Mr. Levine led the school’s orchestral institute. Mr. Brown, who went on to play principal bass in the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, said that one night in the dorms, Mr. Levine had masturbated him and asked him to reciprocate — and then punished Mr. Brown when he declined to do so again, ignoring him for the rest of the summer, even when he was conducting him.


James Lestock, a cellist, said that he, too, was abused that summer when he was a student, and said that the abuse continued in Cleveland, where a tight-knit clique of musicians followed Mr. Levine, who was then an assistant conductor at the Cleveland Orchestra on the cusp of a major career. He said that at one point Mr. Levine had the group don blindfolds and masturbate partners they could not see. (Another participant confirmed this in an interview.)

Mr. Lestock said Monday night that after carrying around the pain of those encounters for so many years, he had been moved to see a public acknowledgment of Mr. Levine’s behavior. “The truth can be very useful,” he said in a telephone interview. “The truth creates good.”

Albin Ifsich, who went on to have a long career as a violinist in the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, said that he had been abused by Mr. Levine for several years, beginning at Meadow Brook and continuing after he joined the group of young musicians who followed Mr. Levine to Cleveland and later New York.

Ashok Pai said he had been abused by Mr. Levine for years, beginning in 1986 near the Ravinia Festival in Illinois, when he was 16. Mr. Pai grew up near the festival, where Mr. Levine was music director, and wanted to become a conductor. Three decades later — after, Mr. Pai said, therapy had helped him realize how destructive those encounters had been — he detailed his accusations in the fall of 2016 to the Lake Forest Police Department in Illinois. Law enforcement officials said last year that they would not bring criminal charges against Mr. Levine, noting that while the state’s age of consent is now 17 — and 18 in some cases — it was still 16 in 1986.

Several performing arts institutions have been confronted with complaints about the behavior of some of their leading artists. A number of orchestras severed ties with the conductor Charles Dutoit after he was accused of sexual misconduct, and the Boston Symphony, where he was a frequent guest conductor, later determined that the accusations of misconduct lodged by several women who worked for the orchestra were credible. Peter Martins retired under pressure this year as ballet master in chief of New York City Ballet after The Times and The Washington Post reported accusations that he had been physically abusive. When the company’s investigation was completed, however, City Ballet announced it had not corroborated the allegations.


Mr. Levine’s focus on and influence over the Met was rare in an era of jet-setting maestros: He conducted more than 2,500 performances with the company, far more than any other conductor. Since suffering a spinal injury in 2011 that caused him to miss two seasons, Mr. Levine has conducted from a wheelchair. It was only with great reluctance — and after a battle erupted behind the scenes when performers complained that it had grown difficult to follow his conducting — that Mr. Levine stepped down as music director in the spring of 2016. That year he acknowledged that he had Parkinson’s disease, which he had previously denied, and said that his difficulties on the podium were related to his medication.

Rumors about Mr. Levine and sexual abuse swirled throughout his career. Johanna Fiedler, a former press representative for the Met, wrote in her 2001 book “Molto Agitato: The Mayhem Behind the Music at the Metropolitan Opera,” that such stories had circulated since at least 1979.

“Each time, the Met press office would tirelessly point out the cyclical nature of the gossip and the complete lack of substance,” she wrote.

In 1987, The Times reported that there were “conflicting rumors about his private life and an imminent resignation” without getting specific. Mr. Levine dismissed the stories in an interview with The Times, saying that he had been told years earlier that there were “reports of a morals charge in Pittsburgh or Hawaii or Dallas.”

“Both my friends and my enemies checked it out, and to this day, I don’t have the faintest idea where those rumors came from or what purpose they served,” he said at the time.

Mr. Gelb said in earlier interviews with The Times that Met records showed two instances when complaints about Mr. Levine’s behavior had reached top company officials. In 1979, he said, Anthony A. Bliss, who was then the Met’s executive director, got a letter from a board member asking about an anonymous letter containing accusations about Mr. Levine. Neither the board member’s letter nor the anonymous one could be obtained, making the exact nature of the accusations unclear. But a copy of Mr. Bliss’s response obtained by The Times shows that he dismissed them.

The second time, Mr. Gelb said, was the 2016 call he got from the Lake Forest Police, who were investigating Mr. Pai’s account. It was a year later, in December, when the company learned from media inquiries that more accusers were coming forward, that the Met suspended Mr. Levine and opened its own investigation.



https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/12/arts ... opera.html

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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by Allen » Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:31 am


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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by maestrob » Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:37 am

I've already commented on this subject in other threads, so let me just say that I'm deeply troubled by these events and revelations. It just proves that there are no secrets. In the midst of all the shame and fury, let us not forget that Levine brought greatness to the MET for many years: he improved the orchestra substantially, and attracted many great singers with his talent. He learned his conducting technique at Juilliard from Jean Morel, who taught many fine conductors in major positions around the world. Levine was and is a great musician, deeply flawed though his personality may be.

That said, I have often stated that the MET was not a good place to work for many years, and I stand by those statements.

As Garrett said, good riddance!

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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by Lance » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:15 am

Levine's musicality - pianist, conductor - is never in question. He has recorded prolifically and has left a wonderful and fabulous legacy tarnished by his personal conduct. What a tragedy.
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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by karlhenning » Tue Mar 13, 2018 11:57 am

Tragedy, in the sense that it was his own damnable fault, is perfectly true.
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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by jserraglio » Tue Mar 13, 2018 2:36 pm

NYT Opinion Column

Zachary Woolfe — classical music editor of The New York Times

It was about 9:30 on Monday evening at the Metropolitan Opera, just a few hours after the Met had fired the conductor James Levine, its musical lodestar since the early 1970s, for what the company found was sexual abuse and harassment, including of young artists under the Met’s guidance.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the 43-year-old the company has hired as its next music director, was taking his bow after Strauss’s “Elektra,” an opera about killing your parents that Mr. Levine led three dozen times with the Met. The audience roared its approval as Mr. Nézet-Séguin grinned. It felt like an anointing.
But is an anointing what the Met should want? The fate of Mr. Levine, 74, who has not commented publicly since denying any misconduct in December, after The New York Times reported a series of accusations, may be an opportunity to think about what it means to be a maestro, to consider the vast power we grant to conductors and whether that power has outlived its usefulness.
“This is a critical moment in terms of analyzing that position,” said JoAnn Falletta, the music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic since 1999, when she became the first female conductor to lead a major American ensemble. “The responsibility of a conductor is always going to be there: the decision-making responsibility, the creation of a positive environment, to get 100 individual artists to coalesce. That’s not going to change. But the style, the unlimited power? That should change.”
A conductor’s position has always been strange and amorphous, even mystical. He — batons are still almost exclusively wielded by men — is a kind of medium between composers, usually from the distant past, and players who actually make the sounds. He is chief rehearser, sure, but his duties and the faith that is put in him have tended to establish him as more of a semi-spiritual conduit than a mere time-beater.
Along with — and because of — this mysterious role has come enviable power and influence. Money, too: Often far more, as a percentage of an orchestra or opera company’s budget, than Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan Chase or Cecile Richards at Planned Parenthood. According to the Met’s most recent tax filing, Mr. Levine was paid $1.8 million for the 2015-16 season, when he conducted four operas; the company has not revealed Mr. Nézet-Séguin’s compensation.
Music directors might spend less than a third of the year with an ensemble but are the center of its marketing campaigns. The San Francisco Symphony is struggling to choose just the right successor to Michael Tilson Thomas, who will retire in 2020, after 25 years; that orchestra’s very existence without him feels, at the least, delicate.
The centrality afforded to conductors makes them appear indispensable. It inclines institutions to look past obvious problems and try their best to make their relationships with their maestros work, at most any financial or moral cost. (The critic Justin Davidson, writing on the Vulture website, has pointed out a slew of questions regarding the Met’s involvement in Mr. Levine’s case that are left unanswered by the company’s curt statement firing him.) The way some conductors have abused their power — Charles Dutoit, like Mr. Levine, has recently been felled amid numerous accusations of sexual misconduct — is a function of being granted so much power in the first place.
Activists in any number of fields have lately renewed their calls to topple the patriarchy, but classical music is one of the few remaining areas of human endeavor in which leaders are still encouraged to think of themselves as daddies. When Jaap van Zweden, the incoming music director of the New York Philharmonic, visited The New York Times recently to speak with writers and editors, he referred without apparent irony to his role as “father” of that orchestra. Mr. Nézet-Séguin’s Twitter biography likewise describes him, abbreviating some of the ensembles he directs, as “Father of Rotterdam Phil, Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestre Métropolitain Mtl” — and “Future father of the Met.”
Mr. van Zweden and Mr. Nézet-Séguin doubtlessly believe they’re being sweet; they aren’t not. Mr. Nézet-Séguin told The Times a few weeks ago that he is “consciously breaking” what he called “this culture of ‘You can’t say anything to the maestro.’ ”
Their paternal self-conception leaves them well short of Mr. Levine’s or Mr. Dutoit’s trespasses; most fathers, of course, aren’t abusers or even unfair leaders. But in these cases, the two modes — parent figure and accused abuser — are sides of the same coin: a male-centered, star-driven structure that saps coffers, repels gender equity and leaves ensembles at a loss when a charmed leader disappears, unexpectedly or not.
The end of this story may well be happier. As classical music and opera slowly, steadily drift from mainstream culture, ticket sales that were once driven purely by the names of beloved music directors have dried up; audiences want experiences, not artists they more likely than not haven’t heard of. The record companies that spent millions on advertising plumping up the celebrity-conductor complex are shadows of their former selves.
While orchestras and opera companies hold tight, for the time being, to the fading magic of the maestro, beloved of aging donors and subscribers, audiences as a whole believe the illusion less and less each year. This demystification will eventually result in a more diverse, more modest pool of leaders.
There are already examples worth following. The Cleveland Orchestra, perhaps the finest in America, has had its music director, Franz Welser-Möst, for nearly 20 years now. He’s plainly guided its style and artistic choices, and yet it has stubbornly, inspiringly declined to be defined by him. This orchestra and conductor seem truly like colleagues.
And I’ve been thinking a lot, over the past few months, about Alan Gilbert, Mr. van Zweden’s predecessor at the New York Philharmonic, whose up-and-down eight-year tenure ended in June, earlier than he probably would have liked. It causes me some shame, now, to look back on those years; I think I resisted Mr. Gilbert’s performances, his presence — genial, bookish and curious, and utterly without glamour — because they didn’t meet my sense of what a conductor was supposed to be. He acted like the Philharmonic’s peer, not its papa.
He was more of a model than I recognized. The Met shouldn’t want a savior to follow Mr. Levine. It should want a musician.

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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by RebLem » Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:13 pm

I just found a 2 CD set I had forgotten I had. Volume 18 in the Chicago Symphony's "From the Archives" series. Titled "A tribute to James Levine," it has a picture of the maestro @ Ravinia, apparently rehearsing the orchestra, because he is dressed in a short sleeved black shirt, and has a white towel to deal with flop sweat, draped over his left shoulder. All the performances are from the Ravinia Festival.

CD 1--1) Verdi "Pace, pace, mio Dio" from La forza del destino Act 4, Leontyne Price, soprano, from 2 JUL 1976 (5'10). 2) Verdi: "Una macchia e qui tuttora" from Macbeth, Act 4--Renatta Scotto & Gene Marie Callahan, sopranos, Terry Cook, bass, from 26 JUN 1981, (7'49). 3) R Strauss: "Es gibt ein Reich," from Ariadne auf Naxos, Op. 60--Margaret Price, soprano, from 3 JUL 1987 (5'37). 4-6) C Ives: Three Places in New England on 29 JUN 1985 (18'13). 7-9) G. Gershwin: Piano Concerto in F, Lorin Hollander, piano on 27 JUN 1976 (33'11).
CD 2--Tr. 1-4, Beethoven: Symphony 2 in D Major, Op. 36 (30'32) on 17 JUL 1977. Tr. 5, Berlioz: The Corsair Overture, Op. 21 (8'36) 6 JUL 1991. Tr. 6-8, Berlioz: Romeo & Juliet, Op. 17: Part II (37'52), including Men of the CSO Chorus, dir. by Margaret Hillis on 9 JUL 1988.
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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by Belle » Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:22 pm

jserraglio wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 2:36 pm
NYT Opinion Column

Zachary Woolfe — classical music editor of The New York Times

It was about 9:30 on Monday evening at the Metropolitan Opera, just a few hours after the Met had fired the conductor James Levine, its musical lodestar since the early 1970s, for what the company found was sexual abuse and harassment, including of young artists under the Met’s guidance.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the 43-year-old the company has hired as its next music director, was taking his bow after Strauss’s “Elektra,” an opera about killing your parents that Mr. Levine led three dozen times with the Met. The audience roared its approval as Mr. Nézet-Séguin grinned. It felt like an anointing.
But is an anointing what the Met should want? The fate of Mr. Levine, 74, who has not commented publicly since denying any misconduct in December, after The New York Times reported a series of accusations, may be an opportunity to think about what it means to be a maestro, to consider the vast power we grant to conductors and whether that power has outlived its usefulness.
“This is a critical moment in terms of analyzing that position,” said JoAnn Falletta, the music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic since 1999, when she became the first female conductor to lead a major American ensemble. “The responsibility of a conductor is always going to be there: the decision-making responsibility, the creation of a positive environment, to get 100 individual artists to coalesce. That’s not going to change. But the style, the unlimited power? That should change.”
A conductor’s position has always been strange and amorphous, even mystical. He — batons are still almost exclusively wielded by men — is a kind of medium between composers, usually from the distant past, and players who actually make the sounds. He is chief rehearser, sure, but his duties and the faith that is put in him have tended to establish him as more of a semi-spiritual conduit than a mere time-beater.
Along with — and because of — this mysterious role has come enviable power and influence. Money, too: Often far more, as a percentage of an orchestra or opera company’s budget, than Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan Chase or Cecile Richards at Planned Parenthood. According to the Met’s most recent tax filing, Mr. Levine was paid $1.8 million for the 2015-16 season, when he conducted four operas; the company has not revealed Mr. Nézet-Séguin’s compensation.
Music directors might spend less than a third of the year with an ensemble but are the center of its marketing campaigns. The San Francisco Symphony is struggling to choose just the right successor to Michael Tilson Thomas, who will retire in 2020, after 25 years; that orchestra’s very existence without him feels, at the least, delicate.
The centrality afforded to conductors makes them appear indispensable. It inclines institutions to look past obvious problems and try their best to make their relationships with their maestros work, at most any financial or moral cost. (The critic Justin Davidson, writing on the Vulture website, has pointed out a slew of questions regarding the Met’s involvement in Mr. Levine’s case that are left unanswered by the company’s curt statement firing him.) The way some conductors have abused their power — Charles Dutoit, like Mr. Levine, has recently been felled amid numerous accusations of sexual misconduct — is a function of being granted so much power in the first place.
Activists in any number of fields have lately renewed their calls to topple the patriarchy, but classical music is one of the few remaining areas of human endeavor in which leaders are still encouraged to think of themselves as daddies. When Jaap van Zweden, the incoming music director of the New York Philharmonic, visited The New York Times recently to speak with writers and editors, he referred without apparent irony to his role as “father” of that orchestra. Mr. Nézet-Séguin’s Twitter biography likewise describes him, abbreviating some of the ensembles he directs, as “Father of Rotterdam Phil, Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestre Métropolitain Mtl” — and “Future father of the Met.”
Mr. van Zweden and Mr. Nézet-Séguin doubtlessly believe they’re being sweet; they aren’t not. Mr. Nézet-Séguin told The Times a few weeks ago that he is “consciously breaking” what he called “this culture of ‘You can’t say anything to the maestro.’ ”
Their paternal self-conception leaves them well short of Mr. Levine’s or Mr. Dutoit’s trespasses; most fathers, of course, aren’t abusers or even unfair leaders. But in these cases, the two modes — parent figure and accused abuser — are sides of the same coin: a male-centered, star-driven structure that saps coffers, repels gender equity and leaves ensembles at a loss when a charmed leader disappears, unexpectedly or not.
The end of this story may well be happier. As classical music and opera slowly, steadily drift from mainstream culture, ticket sales that were once driven purely by the names of beloved music directors have dried up; audiences want experiences, not artists they more likely than not haven’t heard of. The record companies that spent millions on advertising plumping up the celebrity-conductor complex are shadows of their former selves.
While orchestras and opera companies hold tight, for the time being, to the fading magic of the maestro, beloved of aging donors and subscribers, audiences as a whole believe the illusion less and less each year. This demystification will eventually result in a more diverse, more modest pool of leaders.
There are already examples worth following. The Cleveland Orchestra, perhaps the finest in America, has had its music director, Franz Welser-Möst, for nearly 20 years now. He’s plainly guided its style and artistic choices, and yet it has stubbornly, inspiringly declined to be defined by him. This orchestra and conductor seem truly like colleagues.
And I’ve been thinking a lot, over the past few months, about Alan Gilbert, Mr. van Zweden’s predecessor at the New York Philharmonic, whose up-and-down eight-year tenure ended in June, earlier than he probably would have liked. It causes me some shame, now, to look back on those years; I think I resisted Mr. Gilbert’s performances, his presence — genial, bookish and curious, and utterly without glamour — because they didn’t meet my sense of what a conductor was supposed to be. He acted like the Philharmonic’s peer, not its papa.
He was more of a model than I recognized. The Met shouldn’t want a savior to follow Mr. Levine. It should want a musician.
An excellent OpEd and I particularly like the idea of the "mystical" figure of the conductor. That speaks about the extent to which western art music IS our parallel religion. Essentially. The same could be said about sport; there's a good deal of corruption in that too.

Shakespeare dramatized powerfully about 'the fatal flaw' and no amount of social engineering is going to remove that inevitability. Accountability and breaking through the cone of silence should help to minimize abuse in the future.

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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by John F » Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:31 am

Woolf's column is wrong-headed. When an orchestra or an opera ensemble achieves greatness, that is almost always associated with the qualities and achievements of its top music man, call him Music Director or Chief Conductor or what you will. The great eras of the Vienna State Opera are indissolubly linked with Gustav Mahler and Herbert von Karajan; that at La Scala with Toscanini; the New York Philharmonic's with Toscanini again and Leonard Bernstein; the Philadelphia Orchestra with Leopold Stokowski; the Chicago Symphony with Fritz Reiner; there's no end to the list.

Name, on the other hand, any top musical organization that needs a conductor (string quartets need not apply :) ) which achieved greatness without a great conductor in charge. There's only one on my list, the Metropolitan Opera, which until James Levine's appointment in 1976 never had a Music or Artistic Director; its earlier periods of greatness are associated with general directors Giulio Gatti-Casazza and Rudolf Bing. (And in my view, Bing's record is dimmed by the low standard of orchestral playing, for which he is surely to blame; who else?)

Others in this thread have rightly noted that James Levine brought the Met's orchestra, and I'd say the company's artistic standards in general, from a very low ebb following Bing's retirement to its eminence in the 1990s and 2000s as not just a great opera company but arguably the greatest in the world. Were there other serious competitors during those years?

If there's a lesson to be learned from this history in general, and Levine's Met career in particular, it's the importance to artistic achievement that an opera company or orchestra have a music director who is not only capable of leading great performances but who can set the highest standards and have the power necessary to achieve them.

When that power is abused, it's right and necessary to deal with the abuse properly, as the Met and other musical organizations have been doing recently, and of course not just musical organizations. But those in charge of the organizations - and professional critics who write about them - should not therefore downgrade the music director's importance, or choose or praise music directors based on character instead of artistic achievement. Not if they care first and foremost about the art of music and its performance, and if they don't, they're not qualified for what they do.

Which is what Woolf's piece finally does. Having always judged Alan Gilbert's conducting of the New York Philharmonic on artistic grounds, which is the professional critic's job, and generally quite harshly, now he seems to have changed his mind about "what a conductor is supposed to be." He likes it that Gilbert "acted like the Philharmonic’s peer, not its papa," or more to the point, like its boss. However warm and fuzzy that may make him feel, rather belatedly, it ignores the fact that the music director is the boss, and that when things are not going well with the orchestra or opera company, the buck stops with him.
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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by maestrob » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:00 am

Good essay, John, thank-you.

Classical music, from Buxtehude to Bach, from Beethoven to Mahler and Brahms, matured during an era that extolled authority figures, and thus seems to need that structure of public adulation of a conductor. In recent decades (since WWII), that model has undergone some changes, taking political power away from the maestro and distributing it among the players and other staff. Is this a good thing? I'm not sure yet. Certainly, some great performances have happened as the experiment has gone forward, but is it effective to have a conductor without hiring and firing privileges? IMHO, here in NY, we have not had a great conductor at the helm of the Philharmonic since Bernstein. Guest conductors have produced better performances than the caretakers at the podium. Music-making at the Philharmonic has become too polite. Not so at the MET, which has prospered under Levine, however flawed his character.

Nezet-Seguin excites me. He is a great musician, both live and in recordings, in repertoire ranging from Rusalka to Carmen & Bruckner that I've heard, he rarely disappoints. I look forward to his MET tenure: now if he can only change their culture, a monumental task to be sure (Levine wasn't the only star who got away with sexual misconduct).

Our culture has become one of checks and balances, taking away power from authority figures. I'm not sure this is the solution. I say let's choose more balanced leaders, encourage a culture of openness (instead of shame), and allow these tested leaders to wield power with the understanding that if they abuse their power, they will be replaced. No bullying allowed.

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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by THEHORN » Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:20 pm

MaestroB, I disagree with you about the New York Philharmonic . It has had great conductors since Bernstein, and they certainly gave many wonderful performances . Boulez, Mehta, Masur, Maazel - these aren't exactly chopped liver !
I heard some absolutely magnificent performances by the orchestra under the much maligned Zubin Mehta . And despite the grossly unfair accusations against him, he was a staunch champion of contemporary music and regularly programmed it in New York . More than many other prominent conductors of our time . Masur and Maazel also did a lot of fine work in New York . I'm not very familiar with the work of Jaap Van Zweden , but he seemed to be very highly regarded by th orchestra and has gathered a lot of praise for his work with the Dallas symphony . I've got my fingers crossed and wish him well in the toughest and most thankless job in classical music .

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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by John F » Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:36 am

THEHORN, do you really see no significant qualitative difference between the Philharmonic's unquestionably great music directors (I named Toscanini and Bernstein; before them there was Gustav Mahler) and everybody else? Because the only name missing from your honor roll of the last half-century is Alan Gilbert. If that's really your opinion, so be it, but I don't believe you have much company.

It's not to say that all those conductors led no outstanding performances at all, of course they did, but the same can be said of many other Philharmonic conductors who were not music directors. Meanwhile, especially under Mehta, the quality of the orchestra's playing declined to the point that the players themselves apparently recognized the need for a music director who would shape them up, and chose a known tough guy, Kurt Masur. Masur did bring about a radical improvement in the quality of their playing, but few would claim that he led many great performances; a music director is supposed to do both.
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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by THEHORN » Thu Mar 15, 2018 1:23 pm

I didn't hear enough of Gilbert's work with the Philharmonic to form a definite opinion about him , or his work with other orchestras. But what I have hear has been very impressive , and I am very confident about him and the Elbephilharmonie in Hamburg, previously the NDR symphony orchestra in the near future .
I didn't hear any evidence of a "decline" of the orchestra under Metha . But he was stuck with really hostile and biased music critics in New York, such as the insufferable Alan Rich and Peger G Davis who said truly vicious and grossly unfair things about him . It's not as though he lacks the ability to get an orchestra to play well; just look at the terrific work he has done in Los Angeles, Israel, Vienna, Berlin, Munich and elsewhere . I've always considered him to be themost underrated conductor of our time .
Bernstein did not always get good reviews himself when he was music director in New York , and for some reason Toscanini hardly ever got bad reviews in his lifetime even though I have always found his NBC symphony orchestras simply awful on the whole . I prefer the recordings he made with the New York Philharmonic, the BBC symphony orchestra and elsewhere .

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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by IcedNote » Thu Mar 15, 2018 7:06 pm

What a ___________. :roll: :roll: :roll:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/15/arts ... evine.html

James Levine, Fired Over Abuse Allegations, Sues the Met Opera
The conductor James Levine sued the Metropolitan Opera for breach of contract and defamation on Thursday, three days after the company he led for more than four decades fired him when an investigation found he had “engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct.”

The lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, states that Mr. Levine “has clearly and unequivocally denied any wrongdoing in connection with those allegations,” and paints his firing as a result of a longstanding plan by the Met’s general manager, Peter Gelb, “to oust Levine from the Met and completely erase his legacy from the organization.”

The suit seeks more than $4 million for breach of contract and unspecified damages for defamation. It states that Mr. Levine’s contract as the Met’s music director emeritus — a title he took when he stepped down as music director in 2016 — called for him to be paid an annual salary of $400,000, and $27,000 for each of his coming performances, all of which were canceled by the Met. The suit states that Mr. Levine’s contract had no provision for the Met to fire or suspend him.

The lawsuit is an extraordinary change in relations between the Met and Mr. Levine, its central artistic figure for four decades. Credit Karsten Moran for The New York Times
It accuses the Met of acting only after what it calls “vague and unsubstantiated accusations in the press,” citing reports that appeared in The New York Times and The New York Post.

“It was only upon learning that the allegations would be published in the press that the Met and Gelb, cynically hijacking the good will of the #MeToo movement, brazenly seized on these allegations as a pretext to end a longstanding personal campaign to force Levine out of the Met and cease fulfilling its legally enforceable financial commitments to him,” it says. “In the process, the Met and Gelb have attempted to tarnish the legacy of one of the world’s most renowned conductors, a man who devoted 46 years of his life to the Met.”

The Met denied the allegations in the suit. “The Met terminated Mr. Levine’s contract on March 12, following an in-depth investigation that uncovered credible and corroborated evidence of sexual misconduct during his time at the Met, as well as earlier,” its lawyer, Bettina B. Plevan, said in a statement. “It is shocking that Mr. Levine has refused to accept responsibility for his actions, and has today instead decided to lash out at the Met with a suit riddled with untruths.”


The suit was filed just hours before the Met’s board members and patrons gathered at the opera house for the opening of a new production of Mozart’s “Così Fan Tutte,” a specialty of Mr. Levine’s that he had conducted when he returned to the podium in 2013 after being sidelined for two years because of a serious spinal injury.
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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by Lance » Thu Mar 15, 2018 11:20 pm

So, what happens now? Will all these people who said they were abused and come forward, under oath to testify that these activities actually took place, and then, how do they prove it? It will be interesting to see how all this unfolds. Is it the opinion of those watching this that Levine "stands a chance?"
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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by RebLem » Fri Mar 16, 2018 3:44 am

Lance wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 11:20 pm
So, what happens now? Will all these people who said they were abused and come forward, under oath to testify that these activities actually took place, and then, how do they prove it? It will be interesting to see how all this unfolds. Is it the opinion of those watching this that Levine "stands a chance?"
A fart in a hurricane has a better chance of survival. So many accusers. So many witnesses, some of whom have written in this thread about what they have seen with their own eyes. But the biggest barrier is his own health. He is not prepared to resume full time duties anywhere. Frankly, he will die before the legal wrangling can be resolved.
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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by John F » Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:25 am

Big bucks are at stake here, along with much else of course. By firing Levine, and presumably taking away his pension and other benefits as well, Gelb has helped the Met's bottom line at a time when it badly needed some help. I'm not saying that's his reason, but facts are facts.

As for James Levine, he's doubtless very wealthy after all those decades of 7-figure salaries, but his lawsuit probably had to assert substantial financial damage to him not to be dismissed. Of course what the suit is really about is Levine's personal reputation, and if Gelb expected him to take this extraordinary action lying down, he obviously didn't know his man. How it will play out, indeed whether it will go to court at all (though I'd think a settlement unlikely given the accusations of wrongdoing on both sides), there's no point in trying to guess.

Levine can surely afford the very best health care even when stripped of the Met's very generous benefits, and his brother has loyally seen him through some very hard times. Considering what he's already survived and kept on conducting, I don't expect him to die any time soon.
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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by jserraglio » Fri Mar 16, 2018 8:14 am

John F wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:25 am
Of course what the suit is really about is Levine's personal reputation
The best defense against the charge of defamation is the truth. The Met has only to show that its internal investigation turned up evidence that Levine, as Director of the Met's young artists program, made advances, wanted or unwanted, to its fledgling artists. Related to that might be any evidence of sightings of Met-era Maestro Levine in the company of adolescent boys, behavior that might bring the Met into disrepute. Press reports about abuses outside NYC would also be relevant, if they could be proven, but it's hard to believe the Met would have cashiered Levine so fast if they did not have other evidence nailed down.

This is about to get frickin' ugly.

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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by John F » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:18 am

It's been ugly since Levine's accusers began to speak up. But as I've said, the lawsuit is not only about alleged libel, for which as you say the defense is the truth as far as that can be established, but also about financial damages. Also whether Levine's outright dismissal on these or any other grounds, provided he has fulfilled the terms of the contract which I believe the Met has not denied, amounts to a breach of their contract, which relates to the financial damages though not to the personal accusations.

The new element is Levine's allegation that Gelb has been trying to get rid of him, for unstated reasons not relating to this scandal which finally provided an excuse. From the outside it appears that Gelb has gone to great lengths to keep Levine at the Met, despite long periods when he was physically unable to conduct and it looked as if he might never conduct again. But if there's any substance to this, and of course there may not be, then it's not just Levine who may be in trouble.
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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by maestrob » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:29 am

IMHO, Levine is foolishly living in the past, when sexual aberration was shamefully kept a secret. Right now, people are talking openly about these episodes of abuse of power. This means that if this suit ever goes to court, victims will come to court and testify, because they have the public and institutional support that's been lacking in our society up to now. The idea that Gelb is trying to force out Levine is ludicrous on its face. Why would he do so without clear evidence, after all that Levine has done for the MET musically during his tenure?

Remember "Believe the women?" It should be "Believe the victims." I do, and this attitude change in our society bodes ill for James Levine, and his reputation. Being a great musician & leader comes with a responsibility to protect those you are leading: in this case, it looks like Levine failed in this most sacred duty of all.

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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by jserraglio » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:09 am

John F wrote:The lawsuit is not only about alleged libel, for which as you say the defense is the truth as far as that can be established, but also about financial damages. Also whether Levine's outright dismissal on these or any other grounds, provided he has fulfilled the terms of the contract which I believe the Met has not denied, amounts to a breach of their contract, which relates to the financial damages though not to the personal accusations.
The two (financial damages and personal accusations) may not be separate and distinct. Depends on how JL's contract was worded.

If the contract didn't contain escape clauses for conduct unbecoming, then the Met's lawyers' competence should be called into question.

Even my petty little employment contract contains language that allows me to be fired in the event that my personal conduct violates the stated norms of my institution. Were these personal accusations shown to be true, and were I to sue my employer for financial damages anyway—my suit likely would be laughed out of court.

So if Levine can be shown to have made advances to Met young artists he supervised in his official capacity as director of the young artist program (and I'm not saying he did), he will probably end up as chopped liver.

Yes, it's gonna get frickin ugly, only in round 2 it won't be Levine's accusers but Levine himself who throws the first punch.

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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by John F » Fri Mar 16, 2018 12:03 pm

maestrob wrote:The idea that Gelb is trying to force out Levine is ludicrous on its face. Why would he do so without clear evidence, after all that Levine has done for the MET musically during his tenure?
Not necessarily ludicrous. When Gelb was chosen to succeed Joseph Volpe as the Met's general manager in 2006, Levine had been the company's dominant artistic force for decades, not just in prestige but with a decisive role in new repertoire and casting. For many, the Met was Levine. If Gelb wanted to be number one and really run the company artistically, then Levine was standing in his way, or Gelb may have thought so.

Levine's physical difficulties also began in 2006, and as they intensified and eventually obliged him to withdraw from conducting for extended periods, his importance to the Met decreased. Gelb could have seen this as his opportunity to win the power struggle, if indeed that's what it was; until Levine filed his suit, nobody with actual knowledge has said anything of the kind publicly. Of course Levine could be making it up, but none of us here has the inside knowledge to judge one way or the other.

If this thing ever goes to trial, then presumably we will find out whether it's just hot air or whether, unknown to us, a power struggle was going on at the Met which Levine was losing. Meanwhile we just don't know.
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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by jserraglio » Fri Mar 16, 2018 1:26 pm

We've now come full circle, to Peter Gelb.

One side in the imbroglio pictures a Peter Gelb besotted with Levine, blinding himself to Levine's misdeeds, pandering to the "maestro with the Midas touch", some even insinuating he made payoffs in the thousands of dollars to shield him.

The other side casts Gelb as an ineffectual Machiavel, a malcontent who wanted to replace Levine as Met top dog, but somehow, while hatching schemes to oust Levine, never once stumbled on the nuclear option—sex.

If either of these ludicrous concocted scenarios contains a kernel of truth, Gelb missed his calling. He belongs on the Met stage, not behind it.

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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:50 pm

John F wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:25 am
Big bucks are at stake here, along with much else of course. By firing Levine, and presumably taking away his pension and other benefits as well, Gelb has helped the Met's bottom line at a time when it badly needed some help. I'm not saying that's his reason, but facts are facts.
I would not assume that Levine has been denied his pension. If anything, I would suppose that Levine was pushed out of the plane with the equivalent of a golden parachute. I would love to know where you have received any info or from what you have concocted the deduction that this development can be interpreted as being any kind of financial benefit to the Met.

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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by John F » Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:59 pm

I have no information you don't have. But when an employee is fired, normally his employer stops his pay; Levine's salary was $400,000 a year plus $27,000 for each performance he was to conduct. Not paying him will save the Met half a million or more a year, a small fraction of its annual budget but money is money.

An employee fired for misconduct doesn't normally rate a big severance payment (aka golden parachute). Neither the Met nor Levine in his lawsuit says anything about him receiving such a payment, which is why I assume he hasn't and won't. Depending on the Met's general policy and the specifics of Levine's contract, suing the Met for wrongful dismissal is likely to have cost him whatever severance benefits he might have been eligible for. His lawsuit says that his contract "had no provision for the Met to fire or suspend him," which would include any provision for a "golden parachute," and he's unlikely to have signed a separate severance agreement however generous, which would undercut his lawsuit.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Severance_package

Levine's pension may be safe or it may not. Of course he must be fully vested in the Met's pension plan after all these years, but maybe it could be forfeited under the circumstances of his dismissal, depending on the terms of the Met's pension program (whatever they are) and the relevant laws.
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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by jserraglio » Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:22 am

John F wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:59 pm
money is money.
Money is money, especially when money is no object. Levine may simply want to wrest a settlement out of the Met, not for the money as such but in order to claim he has been wronged. If a fraction of what I read about him is true, I don't see how he survives deposition and discovery if this case actually winds up in court. Instead it would make sense to sue for big bucks, settle for an undisclosed amount, declare victory and head off into a Central Park West sunset.

A lurid public spectacle seems unlikely, unless somebody stages an opera about this sickening fiasco.

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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by jserraglio » Tue Mar 20, 2018 10:07 am

New York Times

http://nyti.ms/2GKjbJe

James Levine, a Fractured Partnership and a Met Opera Lawsuit
By Michael Cooper
March 16, 2018

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Seven years ago, when the conductor James Levine marked his 40th anniversary with the Metropolitan Opera, Peter Gelb, the company’s general manager, went all out to celebrate him.

The company issued two lavish boxed sets surveying the career of Mr. Levine, who defined the Met for decades. Mr. Gelb produced a PBS documentary about him and wrote, in a coffee-table book, that he was “one of the most beloved and legendary conductors of all time.” After Mr. Levine’s poor health forced him to step down that year, 2011, as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and a subsequent injury left him unable to conduct at the Met for two seasons, Mr. Gelb kept him on as the Met’s music director.
The suit accuses Mr. Gelb, who has been deferential to Mr. Levine in public, of engaging in “demeaning name-calling more usually associated with a childhood bully than a professional music administrator,” saying that Mr. Gelb had used the phrase the “2,000-pound elephant in the room . . .”
But behind the scenes, their relationship would soon grow frostier. Mr. Levine, 74, who was fired by the Met this week after a company investigation found what it called “credible and corroborated evidence of sexual misconduct during his time at the Met, as well as earlier,” is now suing the company, and Mr. Gelb, for breach of contract and defamation. The lawsuit claims that Mr. Gelb, 64, “brazenly seized” on allegations of misconduct “as a pretext to end a longstanding personal campaign to force Levine out,” a campaign that the suit claims he undertook “to advance his own career and step out of the long shadow cast by Levine’s incredible talent.”

The lawsuit draws back the curtain on the relationship between two of the most powerful men in opera, at least as Mr. Levine sees it. It shows Mr. Levine’s losing battles to hold on to his job — first amid a series of health problems, and later after he was accused of sexual misconduct. (The lawsuit states that he “categorically denied having ever been engaged in an abusive sexual relationship.”)

How much Mr. Levine’s accusations reflect a rare window into a powerful relationship that had privately soured, and how much a tactic designed to deflect from the troubling accounts that have surfaced about him, will now be decided in court.

Mr. Gelb and the Met declined to comment beyond a statement it released Thursday. “It is shocking that Mr. Levine has refused to accept responsibility for his actions,” the statement said in part, “and has today instead decided to lash out at the Met with a suit riddled with untruths.”

The suit accuses Mr. Gelb, who has been deferential to Mr. Levine in public, of engaging in “demeaning name-calling more usually associated with a childhood bully than a professional music administrator,” saying that Mr. Gelb had used the phrase the “2,000-pound elephant in the room,” which the suit interprets as a “blatant reference to Levine’s physical appearance.” It also claims that Mr. Gelb told Mr. Levine at least twice that he feared Mr. Levine was “going to have a heart attack” and die while conducting.

“There was probably a natural conflict there,” David Gockley, who led the San Francisco Opera and Houston Grand Opera, said in a telephone interview, “because Peter inherited a music director god in his last years of real productive work because of all those illnesses that he had. And I’m sure that was frustrating, to have to continue to make a place for James Levine in the structure.”

A Met official, who was granted anonymity to discuss a case in litigation, said that the relationship between the two men only soured when Mr. Levine’s health deteriorated and Mr. Gelb moved to get him to step down as music director in 2016 — something that Mr. Levine’s lawsuit complains about at length

The path to change his status was cleared by a 2015 agreement (included as an exhibit in the suit) in which Mr. Levine extended his contract as music director through the summer of 2019. As music director he was paid $700,000 a year, plus $50,000 for travel and expenses, and $27,000 per performance — more than the $17,000 that the Met usually describes as its top fee. (Mr. Levine’s contract prohibited the Met from paying anyone more than him for performances, unless he agreed.)

The 2015 agreement, which came after years of health problems and cancellations, allowed the Met to make him music director emeritus should he be unable to perform his duties. During that season, 2015-16, Mr. Levine grew erratic at the podium, where the Met had previously built an elevator to accommodate his wheelchair. Musicians and singers said in interviews at the time that he had become hard to follow.

But when Mr. Gelb spoke to Mr. Levine about transitioning to emeritus status, he resisted.

“Astoundingly,” the lawsuit states, Mr. Gelb invited a reporter for The New York Times to attend a meeting with Mr. Levine and his neurologist, Dr. Stanley Fahn, that winter. The doctor said at the meeting that Mr. Levine’s most serious problems could probably be solved by adjusting the medication he was taking for his Parkinson’s disease.

But in April 2016, the lawsuit says, Mr. Gelb “unilaterally forced Levine to step down as music director.” The lawsuit accuses the Met of issuing a public statement in Mr. Levine’s name that “suggested that Levine agreed with the decision to stop serving as music director, even though Levine emphatically disagreed.” As Mr. Levine’s health showed signs of improvement, he continued to conduct, and was given high-profile assignments by Mr. Gelb.

Last December, after the Met suspended Mr. Levine and launched an investigation into accusations of sexual abuse that had appeared in articles in The Times and The New York Post, Mr. Levine’s lawyers sent a letter to Ann Ziff, the chairman of the Met’s board. The suit says the letter denied the allegations and demanded that the Met lift his suspension and allow him to conduct the remaining performances he had been scheduled to lead this season. Mr. Levine claims he did not get a response.
The Met wrote: “It is shocking that Mr. Levine has refused to accept responsibility for his actions, and has today instead decided to lash out at the Met with a suit riddled with untruths.”
The relationship that is now shattered began decades ago. Mr. Gelb, who was an usher at the Met when he was a teenager, worked with Mr. Levine as a producer of the Met’s telecasts in the 1980s. Both men were greatly influenced by Ronald A. Wilford, who was Mr. Levine’s powerful manager as well as a mentor and former employer of Mr. Gelb’s. (He died in June 2015 at 87.)
Mr. Gelb became the Met’s general manager in 2006, and arrived as a change agent at the company Mr. Levine had guided for decades. He began staging works by composers Mr. Levine had previously shown little interest in; championing new and sometimes controversial production styles; and launching the Met’s “Live in HD” simulcasts to cinemas.

The suit charges that Mr. Gelb was trying to “create a Met in his own image, even though he had no artistic qualifications to do so,” and that Mr. Gelb had long wanted to “replace Levine with a younger conductor.” (Yannick Nézet-Séguin, 43, will become music director next season.)

The suit claims the Met had no right to terminate Mr. Levine “based on allegations of misconduct or wrongdoing by him, least of all for conduct that predates the agreements.” His contract did not contain a so-called “morals clause,” though Mr. Gockley, the impresario, said that such clauses are “totally standard” at many performing arts organizations.

Now the issue of whether Mr. Levine could be fired for what the Met called “sexually abusive and harassing conduct toward vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers, over whom Mr. Levine had authority,” is headed for court.
Last edited by jserraglio on Tue Mar 20, 2018 2:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by RebLem » Tue Mar 20, 2018 1:52 pm

Hmmm, the thought that occurs to me is, "Is it possible they are right about each other?" Just asking.
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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by maestrob » Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:38 am

RebLem wrote:
Tue Mar 20, 2018 1:52 pm
Hmmm, the thought that occurs to me is, "Is it possible they are right about each other?" Just asking.
I'd say, at a guess, that you've hit the nail on the head. The lawyers will have a field day with this one, IMHO. :mrgreen:

Incidentally, when her contract with the MET was not renewed (I forget the year), Lucine Amara sued the MET back in the 1980's for age discrimination. I have no idea how the suit was settled, but she never TMK sang in a major house again. I heard her sing parts of Aida for the Brooklyn Opera in a Gala at age 75, and she sounded fine to me!

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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by John F » Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:06 pm

According to Wikipedia, Amara was 51 when she sued the Met (in 1976), and her suit was "successful." A Pyrrhic victory, then, though I expect she got some money out of it; she didn't sing at the Met again until 1981, and thereafter only 7 performances until her last in 1991 as Madelon (not Maddalena) in "Andrea Chenier." She was 66. (She's still alive, by the way.)

Renata Tebaldi was another soprano who made her last Met appearance at 51, but Licia Albanese sang with them until she was 57; Bing then offered her only one performance in the following season, she turned it down, and there was no proper farewell. Kirsten Flagstad too left the Met at age 57. Even the long-lived Thelma Votipka retired from the Met at 57. Birgit Nilsson's last Met performance was at age 63, but she was a later generation and, of course, a law unto herself.
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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by maestrob » Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:28 pm

So age 50 or so was the cutoff date, eh? Not surprising, but what about Renata Scotto, who sang well past her "sell by" date? After she did Nabucco with Muti, her Prophete and Francesca da Rimini at the MET were quite awful to my ears.....(she retired from the MET in 1987 at 52/3).
She was a great singer/actress who took her inspiration from Maria Callas (her telecast of Desdemona was earth-shattering to me), as was a live Lucia I have on CD, among others.

I guess that's why Renee Fleming retired from the MET recently, although her voice is working just fine!

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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by Lance » Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:55 pm

Brian, good to read your post here. My friend, Steven Nanni, a tenor (whom some of you met at our last meet-up in NYC) studied with Scotto, Caballé and other great singers. While he speaks so highly of Scotto, I was listening to a live recital of song repertoire done live in NYC in 1970 (no opera was included) that raised my brows. While her intonation was excellent and vocal production superb, I could not help feeling how strident her voice was at this point in her career. (She took amazing vocal risks and usually wins!) There were times it even hurt the ears! Yet, a consummate artist who had natural acting abilities as well, her other recordings for RCA, Decca, DGG, and particularly EMI (whom she recorded with the most) do not display this strident characteristic to any great degree. So, these artists that leave a place like the Met at a certain point (I think Rosa Ponselle left at age 40), I wonder who makes the decision: management, artist, or both.
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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by maestrob » Thu Mar 22, 2018 1:44 pm

Lance wrote:
Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:55 pm
Brian, good to read your post here. My friend, Steven Nanni, a tenor (whom some of you met at our last meet-up in NYC) studied with Scotto, Caballé and other great singers. While he speaks so highly of Scotto, I was listening to a live recital of song repertoire done live in NYC in 1970 (no opera was included) that raised my brows. While her intonation was excellent and vocal production superb, I could not help feeling how strident her voice was at this point in her career. (She took amazing vocal risks and usually wins!) There were times it even hurt the ears! Yet, a consummate artist who had natural acting abilities as well, her other recordings for RCA, Decca, DGG, and particularly EMI (whom she recorded with the most) do not display this strident characteristic to any great degree. So, these artists that leave a place like the Met at a certain point (I think Rosa Ponselle left at age 40), I wonder who makes the decision: management, artist, or both.
The usual procedure is unknowable, as this happens in private conversations to which I'm not privy. I would, at a guess, say that it's up to whomever is in charge to simply not offer a contract, or to perhaps offer a contract of limited repertoire that the artist can then politely refuse. As for Ponselle leaving at age 40, that was a far different time, and perhaps Ponselle was fed up with the uncertainty. In those years at the Old MET, singers were kept on tenterhooks by being forced to wait until September 1 for contracts (I have this from Mimi Benzell's daughter, whom I taught voice for about 10 years.).

As for Scotto's stridency, I agree with your assessment: her tonal quality always had an edge to it, which worsened through the years, and was hard on my ears from the beginning of my awareness of her as an artist. BUT, she could convey meaning and depth to her character in ways that few other great singers could match, which is what made her a star in my book.

John F
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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by John F » Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:44 pm

"Strident" is the right word for Renata Scotto's sound in her later years. I suppose she brought it on herself by taking heavier roles such as the "Trovatore" Leonora, Norma, and Lady Macbeth.

Rosa Ponselle chose to retire, and by all accounts was happy about it. She had always been afflicted with terrible stage fright and was losing her top notes and singing roles like Carmen and Santuzza which didn't really suit her. And yet the voice remained otherwise in good shape and she continued to sing - privately and for an RCA Victor LP of art songs.
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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by Lance » Thu Mar 22, 2018 6:18 pm

Indeed, two of my most favourite sopranos from an era gone by was Rosa Ponselle and Claudia Muzio (who paid to have that wonderful recital put on discs by HMV/EMI). Ponselle's stage fright was legion, but even so, 40 seems a bit young to retire from such a golden career. She probably made a lot of $$$ and could enjoy it and sing privately when she wanted to, plus take on the Baltimore Opera as an executive director for a time. Fortunately, I have all her recordings, public and private. She did a superb job singing Italian songs often accompanying herself at the piano. Some of her recordings were made at her home, Villa Pace.
John F wrote:
Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:44 pm
"Strident" is the right word for Renata Scotto's sound in her later years. I suppose she brought it on herself by taking heavier roles such as the "Trovatore" Leonora, Norma, and Lady Macbeth.

Rosa Ponselle chose to retire, and by all accounts was happy about it. She had always been afflicted with terrible stage fright and was losing her top notes and singing roles like Carmen and Santuzza which didn't really suit her. And yet the voice remained otherwise in good shape and she continued to sing - privately and for an RCA Victor LP of art songs.
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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barney
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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by barney » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:35 am

I am working my way through the 12-CD Christa Ludwig Edition with enormous pleasure. What an incredible breadth she had, Pergolesi to Berg, Wagner and huge operatic roles, and wonderfully intimate lieder.
The reason I am posting this here is that CD11 is a Winterreise she did with Levine. What a superb accompanist he was, in fact I'd venture to say he is the star in this performance. Sigh. Such a tragedy.

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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by Lance » Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:12 am

You and I must have received some of the same recordings at the same time. I just wrote an article on the new Warner 11-CD set [mostly lieder/song], which I assume you have as well. It's very special! And yes, indeed, James Levine was a super-sensitive pianist when accompanying singers. It, no doubt, assisted him dealing with voices in the world of opera. A tragedy is putting it mildly for someone with that much talent in so many ways.
barney wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:35 am
I am working my way through the 12-CD Christa Ludwig Edition with enormous pleasure. What an incredible breadth she had, Pergolesi to Berg, Wagner and huge operatic roles, and wonderfully intimate lieder.
The reason I am posting this here is that CD11 is a Winterreise she did with Levine. What a superb accompanist he was, in fact I'd venture to say he is the star in this performance. Sigh. Such a tragedy.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

barney
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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by barney » Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:27 am

Lance wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:12 am
You and I must have received some of the same recordings at the same time. I just wrote an article on the new Warner 11-CD set [mostly lieder/song], which I assume you have as well. It's very special! And yes, indeed, James Levine was a super-sensitive pianist when accompanying singers. It, no doubt, assisted him dealing with voices in the world of opera. A tragedy is putting it mildly for someone with that much talent in so many ways.
barney wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:35 am
I am working my way through the 12-CD Christa Ludwig Edition with enormous pleasure. What an incredible breadth she had, Pergolesi to Berg, Wagner and huge operatic roles, and wonderfully intimate lieder.
The reason I am posting this here is that CD11 is a Winterreise she did with Levine. What a superb accompanist he was, in fact I'd venture to say he is the star in this performance. Sigh. Such a tragedy.
No, yours is Warner and mine is DG. I think they must both have put out 90th birthday tributes.

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Re: Met Fires Levine Met Sues

Post by lennygoran » Sat May 19, 2018 6:25 am

Met Opera Accuses James Levine of Decades of Sexual Misconduct

By Michael Cooper
May 18, 2018

Two months ago, the conductor James Levine, having been fired by the Metropolitan Opera for sexual misconduct, sued the company for breach of contract and defamation. Now the Met is suing him back, arguing in court papers filed on Friday that Mr. Levine harmed the company, and detailing previously unreported accusations of sexual harassment and abuse against him.

The filing paints the clearest picture yet of the investigation that led the Met to dismiss Mr. Levine, its longtime music director and its artistic backbone for more than four decades. The company says it found credible evidence that Mr. Levine had “used his reputation and position of power to prey upon and abuse artists,” citing examples of sexual misconduct that it says occurred from the 1970s through 1999, but does not name the victims.

When a 16-year-old artist auditioned for Mr. Levine in 1979, the suit says, Mr. Levine questioned him about his sex life. Two years later, it says, Mr. Levine entered the young man’s dressing room in a bathrobe to discuss an upcoming performance. Mr. Levine made sexual remarks or inappropriately touched the man at least seven times over a period of 12 years, the suit says.

After Mr. Levine offered to drive another singer home from an audition at the Met in 1985, the lawsuit says, he locked the car doors and groped and kissed the man against his will. After the encounter, it says, Mr. Levine placed him in “in a prestigious program” at the Met.

The lawsuit also describes inappropriate conversations that Mr. Levine initiated with another artist in 1989 about masturbation, pornography and penis size, and a failed attempt by Mr. Levine in 1994 to get a man to accompany him to a restroom at the opera house to watch him masturbate.

In addition to serving as the Met’s music director and later music director emeritus, Mr. Levine oversaw the company’s prestigious young artist development program, which can serve as a career springboard. In 1999, the lawsuit says, Mr. Levine inappropriately touched one of its members on his knees, legs and hands. About a year later, it says, he invited the young artist into his dressing room “to engage in sexual activity.”

Lawyers for Mr. Levine denied the Met’s allegations in their own court filing on Friday. “The truth is that Levine did not commit any acts of sexual misconduct against any individuals, much less the unnamed individuals referred to,” his lawyers wrote. “The Met’s so-called ‘investigation’ of Levine’s conduct,” they added, “was nothing more than a pretext for the Met to suspend, fire and defame him.”

The Met’s new filing cites seven accusations of misconduct by Mr. Levine, five of which have not been previously reported. The other two men have already shared their accounts publicly and Mr. Levine has denied their accusations: James Lestock, a cellist who said he was abused for years beginning when he was a student of Mr. Levine’s; and Ashok Pai, who said that he was abused by Mr. Levine beginning when he was 16. Nine men in total have come forward with accusations of harassment or abuse.

The lawyers dispute the Met’s description of Mr. Levine’s relationship with a third person he believes he can identify, the young man who was visited by Mr. Levine in a bathrobe. Their filing describes him as a close personal friend of Mr. Levine’s and says that he did not work at the Met at the time of the incident and that Mr. Levine had more than 140 letters from him. The filing adds that “bathrobes are commonly worn by musical performers backstage in the theater, and there was nothing inappropriate or improper about Levine wearing one.”


Mr. Levine’s suit against the Met says that he “categorically denied having ever been engaged in an abusive sexual relationship.” He has sought at least $5.8 million in damages — his contract included a $400,000 annual salary and a $27,000 fee for each performance — and his suit paints his firing as part of a longstanding effort by Peter Gelb, who became the Met’s general manager in 2006, to oust him from the company.

The Met is now suing Mr. Levine — also for at least $5.8 million — arguing that his misconduct violated his duties to the Met and caused the institution harm. “By engaging in repeated acts of sexual misconduct during his association with the Met,” it says, “including during the period that Levine was responsible for the Young Artist Program, Levine unquestionably violated his duty of loyalty.”

The company suspended Mr. Levine in December, and commissioned an outside investigation into his behavior, after reports appeared in The New York Times and The New York Post detailing accusations by several men who said they had been sexually abused by him decades ago, when they were teenagers or students of his. The Met fired Mr. Levine in March after the investigation found what it called “credible and corroborated evidence of sexual misconduct during his time at the Met, as well as earlier.” A few days later, Mr. Levine sued, accusing the company of defamation and breach of contract.

The Met’s suit says that the company “has and will continue to incur significant reputational and economic harm as a result of the publicity associated with Levine’s misconduct.” The company was already in a difficult financial position before the scandal broke, battling the high costs of putting on grand opera amid a box office slump.

On Friday, Moody’s Investors Service Inc., the credit rating agency, downgraded the Met’s bonds to Baa2 from Baa1, citing its “thin liquidity and the fact that it has not yet been able to reach its endowment fund-raising targets combined with ongoing labor costs pressures and capital needs.” One of the Met’s strengths, it noted, was its strong donor support, which the company relies on.


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/18/arts ... collection

maestrob
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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by maestrob » Sat May 19, 2018 9:32 am

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I won't say anything more here, but Levine is not the only guilty party, according to what I've heard. Let's just say that the culture of an organization starts at the top.

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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by John F » Sat May 19, 2018 9:40 am

No surprise there. But the Met will have a hard time proving that "the company has and will continue to incur significant reputational and economic harm as a result of the publicity associated with Levine’s misconduct.” To the contrary, it was largely Levine's leadership from the depths of the post-Bing times to its peak of artistic achievement and prestige in the 2000s on which the company's success, not just with critics but with the public at the box office and in fundraising, largely depended. At that time, of course, the public knew nothing of these charges, and by the time they became public, Levine's conducting career was all but over anyway. If the Met has declined since 2100 or so, then, Levine's lawyers may make the case that it's not Levine's private life but Peter Gelb's management that is at fault.
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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by jserraglio » Sat May 19, 2018 9:46 am

[Levine's] lawyers dispute the Met’s description of Mr. Levine’s relationship with a third person he believes he can identify, the young man who was visited by Mr. Levine in a bathrobe. Their filing . . . adds that “bathrobes are commonly worn by musical performers backstage in the theater, and there was nothing inappropriate or improper about Levine wearing one.”
Q.E.D.

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Re: Met Fires Levine

Post by Belle » Sat May 19, 2018 6:09 pm

As somebody suggested earlier in this thread, the problem belongs to management. Absolutely. No amount of gyration and contortion can alter that fact. Management is paid to accept acclaim but also blame. That's what the big bucks are for.

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