American conductor James Levine died at age 77 three years after a sexual abuse scandal that led to his suspension from the musical direction of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, a post he held for forty years .
James Levine died of “Natural causes” on March 9, in Palm Springs (California), announced Wednesday, March 17 to Agence France-Presse (AFP), without further details, his long-time doctor, Len Horovitz, confirming information from the New York Times.
Appointed musical director of the Metropolitan Opera in 1976, the native of Cincinnati, Ohio, transformed the institution, to the point of registering it among the great Operas of the world when it was discredited. While honoring the classics of the repertoire, it has included in its program contemporary works, which had no right of citizenship, as well as neglected composers. In all, he has conducted the Met Orchestra over 2,550 times.
He also made the Met a live performance monster in the United States, with an annual budget of over $ 300 million in 2019. Recognized worldwide, he was also the musical director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the start of the 1980s. 2000s, as well as the Munich Philharmonic from 1999 to 2004.
Accused by four men
He will have experienced a series of health problems starting in 2006, from a shoulder injury to kidney failure to a herniated disc. In 2016, he had agreed to give up the musical direction of the Met, suffering from Parkinson’s disease, which had handicapped him for many years.
He nevertheless remained honorary musical director, until his suspension in December 2017, after the publication of testimonies accusing him of sexual abuse in the New York Times and the New York Post. The two dailies mentioned the case of a man accusing the conductor of touching from 1985, when he was only 15, until 1993. Three other men also publicly claimed to have been assaulted sexually by James Levine, although he has not been criminally prosecuted. All described a man older than them who had played on his status and influence to get them to let it go.
In March 2018, the Met published the findings of its investigation, which confirmed the existence of “Credible evidence” that the musician had delivered “To harassment and sexually abusive behavior”. The Opera had then put an end to all the functions that James Levine still held within the institution. Quebec conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin took over as musical director of the Met at the start of the 2018 school year.
After his departure, the conductor sued the Metropolitan Opera, claiming $ 5.8 million on the basis of his ten-year honorary music director contract. The Met then responded by seizing in turn civil justice. The two sides eventually reached an amicable settlement, with James Levine’s historic employer paying him $ 3.5 million, according to the report. New York Times.