Metropolitan Opera suspends Levine as two more victims come forward

Sun Dec 03, 2017 at 8:09 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Conductor James Levine has been accused of molesting three underage teens.
Conductor James Levine has been accused of molesting three underage teens.


The Metropolitan Opera announced Sunday night that it is suspending all ties with the company’s conductor emeritus James Levine pending the results of an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by the 74-year-old conductor.

A New York Times story posted Sunday night named two more men who said they were molested by Levine as underaged students at musical youth camps. It was after the Times contacted Peter Gelb, Met general manager, for  a statement on the latest allegations that the Met decided to sever ties with Levine.

“Based on these new reports, the Met has made the decision to act now, while we await the results of the investigation,” said Gelb in the released statement, noting his actions “are fully supported by the leadership of the Met Board and its Executive Committee.” Gelb further stated that “This is a tragedy for anyone whose life has been affected.”

The statement said that the Met has taken these measures “following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct committed by Mr. Levine that took place from the 60’s to the 80’s, including the earlier part of his conducting career at the Met.”

The company has retained Robert J. Cleary, a former U.S. Attorney and current head of investigations at the Proskauer Rose law firm based in Manhattan “to lead a full and complete investigation into the relevant facts.”

The fast-moving story broke late Saturday when the New York Post reported that an Illinois man, identified in the Sunday Times story as Ashok Pai, was molested by Levine in Lake Forest in the 1980s during Levine’s tenure as music director of the Ravinia Festival. The story quickly spread on social media, news websites and music blogs.

Earlier Sunday night the Ravinia Festival released a statement saying the summer festival had first learned of the allegations when it received a media inquiry Friday afternoon.

“We understand from these articles that investigations are ongoing,” said the statement. “Ravinia finds these allegations very disturbing and contrary to its zero-tolerance policies and culture. Ravinia will take any actions that it deems appropriate following the results of these investigations.”

Levine was scheduled to conduct the Met’s new production of Puccini’s Tosca, set to debut New Year’s Eve but will now be replaced.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association released a statement late Monday afternoon, saying it finds these allegations “deeply troubling” and pointing out that the Ravinia Festival “engages the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for several weeks of concerts each summer.”

“We understand that the Ravinia Festival is awaiting the findings of the current investigations and will take action as appropriate. At this time, Mr. Levine is not scheduled to conduct future concerts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Center.”

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