New York's Metropolitan Opera said on Monday that it had fired its longtime conductor and musical director James Levine after an inquiry found "credible evidence" to support accusations against him of sexual misconduct. The company says "it would be inappropriate and impossible for Mr. Levine to continue to work at the Met".
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. In his absence, Dallas Opera music director Emmanuel Villaume directed seven Met performances of Puccini's Tosca.
"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, adding that it has "terminated its relationship" with the conductor. The investigation found that Levine exerted vast control over this group, dictating all aspects of its members' lives and coercing them into unwanted sex acts.
The Met says claims its management or board had covered up information of Levine's conduct were unsubstantiated. 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.
Chris Brown said that 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 MI and Levine led the school's orchestral institute. Levine was to begin a five-year term as Conductor Laureate in the summer of 2018. He was, for a time, musical director for the Cincinnati May Festival and has occasionally returned to Cincinnati to conduct.
"I thought it was sex for my improvement, sex to make things better", violinist Albin Ifsich, who was a 20-year-old student when he said the abuse took place in 1968, told the newspaper.
Levine, 74, was said by younger musicians to have sexually abused them when they were vulnerable students and he was the charismatic visiting instructor, with most cases dating decades ago.