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Met musicians issue statement on James Levine

December 13, 2017 by norman lebrecht

73 comments.


The shock has been such that it has taken the musicians more than a week to respond. Here’s what they say:

The allegations against former and long-time Music Director James Levine have left the musicians of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra deeply affected. Amidst the anguish felt in the wake of these events, we extend our admiration for the courage shown by those who have come forward. We stand against abuse, be it in the workplace or in society at large, and these painful circumstances have shed light on the need for transformative change in the way these issues are confronted and the ways in which abuse can be prevented from happening in the first place.

Together with our union, Local 802, we have called upon the management of the Metropolitan Opera to ensure a safer workplace by committing to sharing the results of their investigation fully and transparently. Only in this way can we improve the manner in which these issues are addressed in the future.

In difficult moments, we, as artists, find solace and strength in the power of our voices and in opera itself. Each night this week, as we have readied for performances, we have collectively redoubled our commitment to creating the finest and most artistically vibrant opera in the world. As we find ourselves joining a critical national conversation, we feel fortunate to be able to share the power of musical expression with our audience and work to make our society stronger.

 


Comments (73)

  1. Ozan says:

    Future talk only. How about those involved? Those who have overlooked or tolerated it and still work there? Any need for taking action against them? (As 20+ people already noted on these columns, A police report to the Met board has been overlooked for 1.5 years…)

    1. David Hilton says:

      The police report was not “overlooked” as you claim. Just the opposite. It was fully investigated by the Lake County police who reported the results of their investigation to the Met. The result was there was no evidence of an offense. This has all been reported.

      You are merely slandering the Met to imply something nefarious went on when there is no evidence.

      It is also not helpful to refer to an alleged victim’s complaint to the police as a ‘report’. That implies the end of an investigation, not the beginning, which is all that happened in this instance.

      1. Robert Holmén says:

        “It is also not helpful to refer to an alleged victim’s complaint to the police as a ‘report’. That implies the end of an investigation…”

        If it were a “final report”

        There are many different “reports” and “police report” is the language used by the NY Times for what as delivered to the Met.

  2. Larry says:

    Under the circumstances, I think this is a very, very respectable statement. They express compassion for those victimized, ask for full disclosure about the investigation and re-affirm their artistic ideals and principles. What more can the orchestra do?

    1. Olassus says:

      The voice of the statement is confused in the first sentence, 1st v. 3rd, and “left affected” is poor usage. Then there is affected v. anguished.

      1. Larry says:

        Forgive me for not commenting on the grammar.

        1. Mike_T says:

          I assume because there was no need to?

      2. Bruce says:

        I don’t see any voice confusion in the first sentence. The allegations have affected the musicians (or rather, left them affected). Very simple.

        Poor usage? Perhaps. They’re not submitting it to a professor for grading.

        And what is the problem with “affected” (in one sentence) vs “anguished” (in another)? I’m not saying there is no problem, I just don’t see it. Would you mind explaining? Thanks.

        1. Olassus says:

          The musicians are the undersigned: 1st person.

          1. Bruce says:

            Ah. I understood the implied object as 1st person plural: “the allegations have left [us] the musicians deeply affected.”

          2. Olassus says:

            … have caused us anguish. We admire the courage shown by …

    2. David Hilton says:

      Yes, the express compassion for the victims, as well as for all the complainants some of whom may not be victims at all.

      What is missing is any expression of compassion for the man they have worked with for 44 years.

      1. Bruce says:

        Should there be any?

        1. Hilary says:

          Of course!
          Mixed with horror at the alleged offences. It’s possible to have such conflicting feelings. Why does everything have to be so binary?

        2. Una says:

          Yes, most certainly so. Otherwise we are not decent human beings ourselves but just judgemental which serves no purpose when most of us only know him as a conductor in the pit and it’s all becomes trial by social media. Either way there are no winners in this situation as all lives are destroyed if not tainted.

      2. Nick says:

        A totally DISGUSTING letter, right up there with the sick Politically correct left libtards mentality. Neither interest in nor sympathy for a man who is NOT PROVEN GUILTY AT ALL, but gave life and fame to the Met Opera and world recognition. And gave all his life and health to this opera house.
        Ungrateful bunch of bastards whoever authored this piece of verbal garbage.

        1. Saxon Broken says:

          Perhaps they have reason not to believe he is innocent of morally reprehensible behaviour, or at least behaviour they disapprove of.

    3. Guest says:

      Probably not even written by a musician. Probably some slimy lawyer who argues for a living that the pot is blacker than the kettle.

  3. Levine is going down, down, down….

    1. Catalina Fernandez says:

      Fire the pedophile. Enough is enough !!!

    2. Duane says:

      Very sad! By the way, where is the proof for all this condemnation of one man, and did he do anything inappropriate to any of the MET orchestra musicians to merit this rebuke?

      1. Mark says:

        Didn’t you get the memo – evidence doesn’t matter these days, it’s all about the sacred veracity of the accuser and the blessed light of victimhood.

        1. Judy Katz says:

          Lord help us! Couldn’t agree with you more, Duane! World gone mad! Should he not be proven guilty before we condemn the man!?

      2. Gwen Norton says:

        Very valid inquiry!

  4. Sharon Beth Long says:

    I agree with Larry. The statement was well written and compassionate while not condoning or excusing any potential abuses.

  5. Ungeheuer says:

    Well, to be sure, they are going to have to triple down on their commitment to creating the finest and most artistically vibrant opera in the world. And what is that? They are going to have to triple down on securing highly distinctive, better than well trained, important and charismatic voices that belong to much better than good musicians and actors. Tough call but a good orchestra alone will only go so far in carrying the night if no interesting singers worth their salt, and ours, exist. Good luck.

  6. boringfileclerk says:

    Better late than never. What’s most telling is that they believe the accusers.
    #TheyAllKnew

    1. Roger says:

      They clearly believe the accusers as they did not defend Levine in any way at all. They mentioned his name only once re the allegations.Very very telling.

  7. Dr. John Wightman says:

    Why must our heroes delete decency from their behaviour as a perk for their genius and popularity. Would they expect less from their now broken hearted admirers. When will it end, and why not now.

  8. Dave says:

    How about this statement, which is probably more to the truth: “Management and the musicians have known for years, if not decades, about Levine’s behavior. This knowledge was totally ignored because Mr. Levine filled the seats. We wish to apologize for our callousness and hope you can forgive our actions in this matter.” I would have a ounce of respect for these people if they released something to this effect.

    1. boringfileclerk says:

      +1000

    2. andy lim says:

      better: “our non-actions”

    3. Gregg in Boston says:

      You are spot on. The MET Opera orchestra, artists, crew, staff, board and volunteers all knew what was happening and stayed silent. Perhaps, they were in fear being fired for speaking up. Either way, those in power must be held responsible for the decisions they made. I suspect that the motivation for writing this statement was 1) to cover their asses; and 2) to protect their economic livelihoods which are now in jeopardy.

      1. Mark P. Kessinger says:

        It is simply not accurate that all of the folks you mention “knew” what was going on. Yes, there were rumors, and yes, most if them probably heard those rumors. But who, in any organization, runs to authorities in the basis of rumors and innuendo?

    4. Bruce says:

      Well then it looks like they will have to manage without it… if they can.

    5. Eaglearts says:

      Other than rumor and gossip what precisely did they know? Based on Edda Moser’s disturbing account?

      So far none of the allegations of abuse have occurred at the Met. The incidents at Meadowbrook occurred before he was appointed music director. If abuse, pedophilia, molestation or harassment occurred at the Met I sincerely hope the victims have the courage and support to come forward.

    6. Petbull says:

      I agree completely. The musician’s statement is a bunch of blather. Every classical musician working in NYC (if not worldwide) have heard the rumors for decades. The word on the street was that the Met board paid off the parents of the victimized children.
      It is disingenuous for the musicians not to acknowledge their long time knowledge of this most unfortunate legend.

      1. Eaglearts says:

        Rumors and gossip, that’s all you’ve got?

    7. Gwen Norton says:

      Sincere contrition must precede the issue of individuals and/or groups claiming genuine accountability for even the least of these offenses. Enough parties chose to turn their heads to behaviors which would be considered heinous and abhorrent, not even considering how illegal they were, to every single person who allowed such practices to be sustained for so long!! Not making a choice is STILL A CHOICE! WHERE ON EARTH WERE THE PARENTS!! The trauma these people inflicted by simply ignoring these atrocious violations will outlive any punishment our legal system could possibly inflict!!

    8. Saxon Broken says:

      As employees, under the supervision of Levine, I am not sure what the musicians could really have done if the management didn’t want to do anything.

  9. herrera says:

    If Levine were to sue the Met (and the Ravinia Festival) to enforce his contract, he would win!

    It’s a simple matter of law.

    Nothin has been proven, no police is currently investigating, no prosecutor has said charges are even remotely in the works.

    The Met and Ravinia should be prepared to spend millions of dollars to settle with Levine.

    1. roger says:

      no – never happen.

    2. Ozan says:

      If you read the negative comments carefully, you can see that we also mean the same thing: Here the man and the institution are inseparable.
      If one party (say Levine) takes action, the other party will not be able to come clear out of it.

    3. Bruce says:

      There are probably clauses in both contracts that allow either party to cancel for whatever reason they wish, as long as they dress it up in the proper language.

      Then again, if Levine doesn’t choose to sue, what message would that send?

    4. Dave says:

      Your comments are laughable. Do you really believe Levine wants more lawyers dredging up details of his sordid life? Dream on.

      1. David A McKellar says:

        Agree 100%!

    5. Ungeheuer says:

      Fanboy/girl Herrera still refuses to get it. Incredible.

    6. Mark says:

      As an attorney, I doubt Levine’s contract allows his termination at will. Even if there is a morality clause, as is common in entertainment contracts, it probably has a very high triggering threshold, such as a criminal conviction and/or an indictment.
      And in a civil law suit for a breach of contract, no judge in their right mind would allow the introduction of any evidence or witnesses unrelated to the contractual claim.

  10. Steve P says:

    I kind of like the “mortal” element being introduced: everyone has to behave properly to their fellow man, status be damned.
    Curious that it is the arts entertainment side going down first and the sports side – more than notoriously full of womanizing louts – stands idly by. Baylor, then….pfft. How in the world is Miami’s 7th Floor Crew exempt?
    Sorry to go so local.

    1. Barry Michael Okun says:

      Sports — unlike classical music — never claimed to be morally superior to other forms of entertainment.

      (As if Hitler’s Germany shouldn’t have permanently foreclosed that claim for classical music — with the murderers of my great-aunts and -uncles going home to listen to Schubert after spending their days murdering Jews, Catholics, and homosexuals [sorry to make you read that word again, Sue].)

      1. Anon says:

        Classical music, its professionals, never claimed anything.
        It’s the masses in mediocre boring professions, who project their unlived aspirations onto artists, who make them into demi-gods, and are then disappointed, to the degree of spitting on the ones lying beaten on the floor, if they fail to live up to the projected human greatness, on top of the artistic one.

      2. C Porumbescu says:

        “Sports — unlike classical music — never claimed to be morally superior to other forms of entertainment.”

        You’ve not read much about the history of the Olympic movement, then? Or the 1936 Berlin games…

  11. Feudi A Pandola says:

    Sad what has happened within so many facets of our culture. Sad, but not at all surprising given how nihilistic we have become.

  12. Feudi A Pandola says:

    Religion at least provided some sense of direction toward a humane morality. As atheism and agnosticism spread situational secularistic ethics sptead with them
    How is that working out.

    1. Andreas B. says:

      yes, I’m sure the special kind of “humane Catholic morality” was very much appreciated and will never be forgotten by the multitude of abuse victims in so many cases over so many decades in Ireland, Germany, Australia and the US.

    2. Dave says:

      The humane morality of religion that you are referring to must be related to the Inquisition and the Crusader wars. You might include the modern Middle East strife towards your religious morality play.

    3. QUODLIBET says:

      What leads you to think that religious belief, or religious practice, ensures moral behavior?

      Example: Roy Moore, and others ad nauseum.

      I am an atheist, and I live by “do good, treat others with compassion and generosity, help those who need help, and do no harm.”

      I don’t need a religion to tell me how to be a good human being. I can make that valuation on my own.

      Nonreligious people are not more likely to engage in criminal behaviour; in fact, the trend is just the opposite.
      https://visual.ly/community/infographic/lifestyle/religion-and-crime-there-correlation

  13. Wayne Johnson Ph.D says:

    Where is the presumption of innocence for Maestro Levine?

    1. andy lim says:

      The fact your dear Maestro is not in jail yet, but still at home.

    2. Martolina says:

      A person is innocent until proven guilty.

      1. John Borstlap says:

        A person is innocent until unshopped photos of his misconduct have been presented.

  14. Anon says:

    The total absence of due process and rule of law is frightening. Welcome back to the dark ages. The age of enlightening has been rolled back, if it ever was more than just a superficial laquer, in the US. The pleibeans are outraged.

  15. Mister New York says:

    The Met created their own monster by giving one conductor so much power as if he were Mahler. He is a fine conductor, but there were many great ones who were closed out of the Met because of his grip on all things artistic. And he’s the one who denied Joan Sutherland a new production of The Merry Widow. And what did we finally get instead, Renee Fleming.

    1. Marcus says:

      Not to nitpick here, but when the Met finally did put on the Merry Widow, it was with Frederica von Stade in 2000. Renee Fleming did a later revival. Also, I doubt that Maestro Levine single handedly had the power to veto the Bonynge’s desire for Sutherland to sing in a production of the Merry Widow. I remember reading at the time that Joe Volpe, the Met’s general manager, said the reason they would not do a Merry Widow for Sutherland was because “we don’t do operetta here”.

  16. Ben says:

    Every day Gelb delays Levine’s firing digs his grave just that little bit deeper…

  17. Mike says:

    Boys will be girls

  18. Steven says:

    Levine’s pedophile activities have been going on for decades, and every male gay person in the classical music community knows it. I am straight, but I know several gay men who openly discuss Levine’s proclivities with dismissing excuses, including a (late) music critic who lived next door to me long ago.

    The era of permissive sexual predatory behavior is over, and all men, gay or hetero, need to be held accountable and called out. Oh, and I know some Lesbian women who should be held to the same standards. We live in a sad, sad time of sexual misconduct. Thank God I’m a happily married man with a loving wife. What is wrong with this country?

    1. Dave says:

      This period is called the Kali Yuga. The Iron Age or the Age of Darkness.


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