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James Levine death: Former Metropolitan Opera conductor accused of sexual abuse dies aged 77

Met fired Levine in 2018 saying it had found ‘credible evidence that Mr Levine had engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct’

Clémence Michallon
Wednesday 17 March 2021 15:36
James Levine and the Boston Symphony Orchestra perform Hector Berlioz’s ‘Damnation of Faust’ on 4 September 2007 at the Salle Pleyel in Paris, France
James Levine and the Boston Symphony Orchestra perform Hector Berlioz’s ‘Damnation of Faust’ on 4 September 2007 at the Salle Pleyel in Paris, France

Former Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine has died aged 77.

Dr Len Horovitz, his personal physician, told The Associated Press on Wednesday (17 March) that Levine died on 9 March in Palm Springs, California, of natural causes.

Levine was fired by the Met in March 2018. The organisation said in a statement at the time it had found “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 Met also said that its investigation, conducted by outside counsel over more than three months, had uncovered “credible evidence that Mr Levine engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct towards vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers, over whom Mr Levine had authority”.

The institution thus ended Levine’s position as Music Director Emeritus and Artistic Director of its young artist programme.

Prior to his firing, Levine was one of the most respected figures in his field. His relationship with the Met lasted more than 40 years, and his career also included leading positions at the Boston Symphony Orchestra and at the the Munich Philharmonic.

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Allegations of misconduct against Levine were first reported by The New York Times in December 2017.

After the Metropolitan Opera fired him, Levine sued the organisation for alleged defamation and breach of contract. The Met stood by its investigation in a statement to The New York Times, with its lawyer telling the paper: “It is shocking that Mr Levine has refused to accept responsibility for his actions.”

The lawsuit was settled in 2019 after a judge dismissed all except one of the defamation claims.

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