The human cost of the James Levine climate

December 15, 2017 by norman lebrecht


Among many testimonies that have been sent to Slipped Disc since the breaking of the James Levine allegations is one from a well-established music administrator.

Our contact was on the music staff at the Met as a young man in the 1980s. He was approached one day by the music director, who ‘stuck his hand down my pants’. Our contact indicated that he was not interested, and that was it.

No big deal, you might say. Everyone was above the age of consent. What followed, however, is indicative of the corrosive atmosphere at the Met and how careers could be made or broken at one man’s whim.

From the moment he declined the sexual proposition, our contact became invisible in the building. No-one wanted to work with him. If he asked why, he would be told he ‘was not good enough’. A clique around the music director was there to enforce his wishes.

In music in particular and the arts in general, competence can be hard to prove if you are not given the opportunity. The Met was an impossible place to work if you did not play the music director’s way.

Our contact got out fast and made a successful career outside New York. He has no regrets. Others who stayed on saw their lives and their talents whittled away past the point of recovery.

That destructive element is part of the James Levine legacy. It will not go away until the Met decides to come clean about the past and put its house in order.

See also: Opera is a breeding ground for sexual misconduct

Comments (78)

  1. Kelvin Grout says:

    I have experienced the same. Female Conservatory director whose advances I rejected, saw me removed from my teaching position and made it virtually impossible for me to find an alternative in other conservatories.

  2. Thomas Silverbörg says:

    The arts business can be very vicious and petty. I cannot imagine that there is anyone on the inside who would privately dispute this. I myself have witnessed and experienced hair-raising situations. If you go against the grain, no matter on what level, you had better be prepared for a career change.

    1. Sue says:

      If you think that’s bad you wouldn’t believe what it’s like in politics!! And I don’t speak exclusively about any country; it’s the same the world over.

  3. Michael Roddy says:

    With rumours about Levine circulating in music circles for as long as they did (going back decades), this must be a time for soul-searching at the Met and elsewhere to determine how and why so many people turned a blind eye to unacceptable behaviour — and the consequences detailed in Norman’s post…

    1. pete says:

      I heard about this 20 years ago from a soprano friend of mine who actually wasn’t even in the inner circle of the new York classical music scene, but she knew all account this back then. that proves most people in that business know about this excerpt that they just remain silence for so long.

  4. Ungeheuer says:

    Indeed, Peter Gelb and his board need to come clean through their immediate resignation. It is the best recourse to help save the institution. Has anyone contacted Joseph Volpe or members of the board during his time? That’s because he and his board are just as complicit in this.

    1. Save the MET says:

      Peter Gelb needs to go. He’s part of the problem, not the solution.

      1. Edgar says:

        Fully agree. Not only Gelb, but the entire board. The trouble with that is that I suspect there is no one who wants to be on the MET board. Still: a new executive board, 5 people maximum, with executive powers everywhere in the entire organization. Not only is soul-searching and institutional cleansing required, this is now also the time to radically renew the MET physically. Gut the entire building, leave only essential structure standing, construct new auditorium with maximum of 2500-2800 seats, for starters. In short: update the entire building to 21st century standards. There is enough money in NYC, so there is no problem. With new outward construction, go at the existing internal one: Everything on the table for re-negotiation with all unions involved. Buy back the MET’s art collection. But fist, the sooner the better: fire Gelb, without severance package other than one month extra salary which is extremely generous. Then: start from scratch. The House as it is is rotten and must be dismantled. To be or not to be is indeed the question here.

        1. Ungeheuer says:

          Well stated. About gutting the auditorium, I couldn’t agree more. But it’s not just to bring it to 21C standards but to accept the reality of ever declining interest in the artform and thus attendance. And the other reality that there are barely any singers worth paying to hear, be it free, cheap or expensive admission, no matter.

  5. Alex Davies says:

    “No big deal, you might say. Everyone was above the age of consent.”

    You seem to have completely failed to understand the meaning of “consent”. The age of consent is the age above which a person is deemed capable of giving consent (or, perhaps more appositely, the age below which a person is deemed incapable of giving consent). What you seem to be suggesting here is that the age of consent is the age above which consent does not need to be given! I don’t know what the specific charge would be in the State of New York, but what this gentleman describes would be charged as indecent assault in the jurisdiction of England and Wales. If it is true that James Levine “stuck his hand down” another man’s “pants” without consent (and I have no reason to believe that it is not true), that *is* a big deal: it is an assault upon a person who has not given his consent irrespective of the age of the complainant. The vast majority of allegations of sexual harassment (which is a crime if it involves unwanted sexual touching or indecent exposure, to mention just the two most commonly alleged activities) that have come to light in recent weeks and months have involved complainants who were above the age of consent at the time of the alleged assault. That is a big deal.

    1. anonanon says:


      “From the moment he declined the sexual proposition”

      Sticking one’s hands down another person’s pants is not a “sexual proposition”, it is an assault.

      My advice to victims of sexual assault:
      1) file a police report. Always file a police report immediately. Once you get the police involved, it is your best protection against retaliation. Management and the board can deny as much as they want, but they’d think twice before firing you, and their lawyers would make them think twice.

      Thinking twice is more than what they’d do if you didn’t file a police report.

      3) make a written complaint to the highest person in the hierarchy (the chairperson of the board if need be) and copy everyone in the hierarchy

      1. Alex Davies says:

        Thanks for highlighting that too. A proposition is just that: an invitation, a suggestion, even a request. Putting one’s hands down another person’s pants is not a proposition; it’s the thing that one would propose had one made a proposition. Should this be true, James Levine didn’t proposition anybody to do anything: he just approached a work colleague and sexually assaulted him completely out of the blue. The man didn’t decline a proposition; he asked James Levine to desist from an ongoing assault.

      2. Robert Holmén says:

        Calling the police was probably hopeless back then.

        When I call the police these days to report something like a ladder being stolen from my yard they act like I’m wasting their time.

        What are the chances that the NYC police in the 1980s were going to call all squad cars and alert them to the fact that someone got a hand down their pants at the opera?

        I recall back in the 70s or 80s a young man got kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a woman and the whole thing was treated as a joke on late night TV.

        1. Yes Addison says:

          In addition to that, filing a police report would have ensured that the young man never got “well established” with some other organization. Rebuffing Levine, according to this account, got him rendered a non-person within the Met. Going public would have ended any career in classical music, and he would have been lucky if that were the extent of the retribution. We know who was alive then, and isn’t anymore.

          1. JanetLee says:

            Dear Mr Lebrecht ,
            How can you keep publishing this nonsense ?
            Who is this person now, that you have dug up or who has dug you up to get their “15 minutes” who refuses to be honest by naming themselves ? Why the hell should we believe any of this drivel ?
            I know the Metropolitan Opera as a workplace intimately and have for almost 3 decades. The way you write and your followers write, describe some weird little backwoods conservatory without money or pupils !
            Readers , have you refreshed your memories ANY OF YOU , as to what the Met under James Levine and Joe Volpe was actually producing when all this ” inner circle ” ” he’s not good enough ” crap was supposed to be going on ?
            So far in todays tale, all we have is a disgruntled ” musician ” who had to find work in a less competitive arena than the extremely competative New York City ( and claims he is successful ? We have no way of verifying any of this ) and claims upon meeting a world class conductor that man stuck his hands in his pants ? Does that sound plausible to you ? The Met is a very busy crowded huge theater that is ALIVE with crew, chorus, orchestra, technical staff, support staff, security guards ushers front of house and management / administrators soloists etc .. do you REALLY believe a star like James Levine just walks up to someone and sticks his hands down their pants and when rebuffed ” kills” that persons career ? This ” musician ” gets shirty because the music has to be played the ” directors way”? What other way are you supposed to play it ? That’s what a conductor is for ! Sounds like he WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH ! I am certain those things happen and probably do at the Met but it certainly isn’t common and for you to post this as gossip is disappointing Mr Lebrecht . The Metropolitan Opera is a Great and Proud theater . She has been a world leader in the performing arts for decades in large part due to the brilliance and direction of James Levine, and now this is all you can talk about ? Prurient ignorant Bible Belt stuff .
            I expected much more from you. I’m sorry I was wrong

          2. Mark says:

            @Janetlee Thank you ! Finally, a comment from an intelligent person who knows something about the Met

          3. Robert Holmén says:

            JANETLEE say the Met is too crowded with busy people for misconduct to happen.

            But military bases, major corporations, network TV news, the White House… those are all very crowded and very busy and yet it’s all happened there too.

      3. Joe person says:

        What you say sounds sensible. But unworkable. In that climate – I was there, it was the Jimmy show. 100%. It was x factor and he was all of the judges at once. It was Cuba and he was Castro. He could bring in anyone he wanted and put them onstage the next day in any role they could manage even slightly competently. And he could block anyone from doing anything he wanted. So your police report would save you from getting fired immediately. MAYBE. But maybe not. And now you would linger there until you gave up. You’d learn nothing. You’d demonstrate nothing. You’d stagnate until you left. And when you did, forget about getting a fair shake anywhere. In the world. I suppose if you were among the best ten in the world at what you did you would survive. But he was very smart about it. He never touched those people. And that left almost everyone else. And the met administration and board knew the way you know when someone is a massive pothead and smoking every chance they get: the smell. The eyes. He was surrounded by little boys. It was absurd. It was over the top incongruous. You could see him in restaurants with them. Constantly. Very young guys. VERY young. Everyone discussed it. Everyone knew. EVERYONE KNEW. I was once at a small party with Pinchas Zucherman, Perelman, Stern, and several others of that group and the subject turned to Jimmy and his little boys. How can it just go on, they all asked. Everyone discussed it openly. It was obvious. The met and the board were complicit. In every way. People who were moved by his performances think something makes the two things in one person impossible. That’s their issue. He’s a monster. And he’s an amazing musician. So what? What makes the two things incompatible? Work inside the classical music field for long enough and you’ll meet at least a few such contradictions. They sit down at a casual gathering and play something you’ve worked at for years to try to get just right, and they reduce you to tears. To sobs. You can’t believe how sublime. Your whole lifetime of world-class skill and world-class training and this person just rang every bell after five drinks. And you go up with tears in your eyes to say something and you overhear the ugliest things you’ve ever heard about some ethnicity or religion or you come to know how they treated a close friend of yours and you eventually adjust to the idea that horrible qualities can coexist with profound artistic sensibility in the same person. I hate to say it, because it would be a deep disappointment to many who feel redeemed by particular musical or artistic experiences but musical “skill”in its extreme forms is like sexual skill. It doesn’t require love. But it can engender intense love. James Levine is an absolute monster. I know this with absolute certainty. Absolute, total certainty. And I don’t expect you to believe an anonymous commenter. But I know this: in the last few years of his life he will no longer be able to conduct or look any decent person in the eyes. It probably won’t last long. But he deserves every miserable moment of what is coming. He deserves much, much worse. And the met is forty years late with this baloney they’re playing at now. If it comes back on them they deserve it. And any orchestra member who pretends they didn’t know is a ridiculous clown. I understand there was nothing any of them could do. But their statement? What garbage. EVERYONE KNEW.

    2. Olassus says:

      Absolutely, and not just in the U.K.

      I would slug any guy — LB or JL included — for that, or for sticking an unwanted tongue anywhere near my mouth, as LB often reportedly did. Arrogant fucking assholes. I hate to imagine what some people go through.

      I was once propositioned by a famous American opera composer. Fortunately his efforts went no further than words!

      1. Sara Gold says:

        “sticking an unwanted tongue anywhere near my mouth”
        The first time anyone has the presence of mind, and the strength, to bite off said tongue — presumably following the act with industrial-strength mouthwash — will be the moment that predators realize the risks in what they attempt. I’m sorry it probably has to come to that, but an awful lot of people seem to “think” with the wrong parts of their anatomy.

    3. 5566hh says:

      Exactly. Quite astonishing that someone could think this alleged behaviour could just be ‘no big deal’.

      1. Stephen says:

        It is easy to say “file a police complaint” but what happens when one does, even when the accused is known to the police? He simply keeps quiet, doesn’t say a word, and the police can do nothing except release him.

  6. anonanon says:

    Mr. L,

    You wouldn’t report on Ashok Pai’s accusations, on the grounds of presumption of innocence, even though by the time the NY Post picked up on it, Mr. Pai had already filed a police report over a year ago.

    But now you’re willing to report on another anonymous accuser’s accusations.

    What has changed? You can’t say just because others came forward, now you’re free to report on all anonymous accusations.

    From an evidentiary point of view, nothing has changed. The anonymous accuser offers no more evidence than Mr. Pai did. Has the anonymous accuser at least filed a police report in Manhattan?

    Be consistent.

    1. Ungeheuer says:

      This is not about style or nuance, is it? What it is is Levine’s unconsensual sexual misconduct as crass abuse of power and much worse. And the complicity of silence and protection from the sycophants who knew. Just stating the obvious so you and others don’t lose sight about what this is all about.

      1. anonanon says:

        So you’re accusing Lebrecht of “complicity of silence and protection from the sycophants who knew”

        Just wanted to be clear.

    2. norman lebrecht says:

      It was I who first advised Mr Pai to go to the police. I did not publish, pending documentary corroboration. In this case, the report does not come from an anonymous source: the person is known to me. No crime was committed and no great offence taken. It is the follow-up to the incident that is problematic rather than the incident itself. But perhaps you should abandon your own anonanonymity before casting stones at others.

      1. Joe Singer says:

        Sexual assault isn’t a crime?

        1. Bruce says:

          I think he meant the victim had no particular problem with the “proposition” itself, but only with the professional repercussions, not that the law wasn’t broken.

          …which it was. A copy/paste from my comment on the “music professor is suspended” thread:

          From the US Dept. of Justice (

          Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.

          Sticking your hand down someone’s pants uninvited would definitely qualify as assault.

      2. anonanon says:

        As the owner of this site, you’re free to delete my posts if my anonymity bothers you, it’d not bother me one bit, I’m just trying to understand the consistency of your position.

        1) An “anonymous source” is one not willing to divulge his name to the public even if known to the reporter. Journalists report on the accusations of anonymous sources at their own risk.

        2) “No crime was committed” That is an astounding assertion. If sticking one’s hand down another’s pants is not a crime, I don’t know what is.

      3. Alex Davies says:

        Irrespective of what the victim himself thinks, putting one’s hands down another man’s pants without his consent is a crime.

    3. qx says:

      what has changed is that a man is down and kicking someone famous when he is down is unfortunately a common human failing. As is 20/20 hindsight. We all heard the rumors and treated it as “one of those things that happen with celebrities” without thinking of the victim’s point of view

    4. JanetLee says:

      Absolutely correct Anonanon.. what a ghastly mistake that was . His Facebook page gives me all the clues I need to solve that case. No
      Wonder it was buried .

    5. Was There says:

      The first accuser still leaves a presumption of innocence. But after enough people come forward, trashing their own anonymity and become permanently associated with something so ugly it can’t possibly be doing anything positive for them the situation switches to one pedophile predator vs. several people willing to shame themselves in a way that is obviously quite horrifying for them. This isn’t a trial. There is no legal risk. So no legal protections. If you knew the reality of this situation you would almost certainly be on the other side of it. James Levine did these things. He did it to dozens and dozens more. The rest of us have been through enough the first time. We spent our lives trying to forget. We aren’t coming forward. But he got away with it for all these years. And now he is going to have a few limitations in his last years. He did these things and much, much more. And it’s amazing these guys are willing to go through this kind of publicity because no one else I know is. He did all of this and much worse. But it was done to him as well and he doesn’t understand any of it any more than we do. But now he can deal with it too.

  7. Mark says:

    So every loser is now free to come up with their unverifiable sob story. All aboard the victimhood train !! We have triscuits for every sad complaining puppy …

  8. Robert Holmén says:

    I’m curious about what the place of women employees (other than singers) was in all this.

    Were men getting hired for non-job reasons and therefore edging out otherwise-qualified female candidates who didn’t present the same potential groping opportunities for the chief?

    1. Robert Holmén says:

      Or perhaps there were other, conventional heterosexual, gropers who wanted females on staff?

    2. Aria da capo says:

      Powerful homosexual men in the business, teachers, casting, music, stage directors, agents, colleagues, etc., are huge bullies of heterosexual women, especially when they are beautiful and talented.

      1. Ungeheuer says:

        This is very true. In real life as well.

      2. Sue says:

        Misogyny is never far away in the homosexual community. In Australia it is routinely represented in the Sydney Gay Mardi Gras with men dressing as nuns and caricaturing women in the worst way – powerful women, that is.

        1. Alex Davies says:

          What is the homosexual community? I don’t know any LGB people who would accept the concept of a gay community.

          1. Ungeheuer says:

            Are you kidding?

          2. DM says:

            That’s funny. What is this LGBT community I hear so much about?

            When I google the phrase “LGBT community” in closed quotes, I get 402K results.

            There is an LGBT Community Center in pretty much every major city in the Western world.

            Parades, flags, you name it, the non-existent LGBT community has it.

            Hillary Clinton said that LGBT people are not a creation of Western colonialism, they are everywhere, and as President, she would fight for their rights everywhere.

            This community doesn’t exist? Yes, when it’s convenient, it doesn’t exist, when it suits your agenda, it exists.

          3. Alex Davies says:

            You are quite right that one does often hear “the gay community”, “the LGBT community”, etc., just as one hears “the black community”, “the Chinese community”, etc. My point is that many/most members of such “communities” will tell you that the idea of a “community” is erroneous. Many people in fact tell me that they find the idea of a “community” to be offensive, as it suggests that there is a “community” based solely on sexual orientation. There are individual LGBT people, and those people belong to groups of friends who may or may not also be LGBT, and there are larger social groups which may or may not comprise a majority of LGBT people.

            I am sure that I am not alone in knowing some gay men who feel that they have little or nothing in common with lesbians, bisexuals, or trans people. Even among gay men there are subgroups which are frequently mutually exclusive and sometimes antipathetic based on ethnicity, social class, age, or adoption of a specific identity, e.g. bears, straight-acting, etc. I have gay friends who tell me that there are certain gay venues that they will not visit because they are frequented by the wrong kind of gay people. That does not sound to me like much of a “community”. Incidentally, some of the “gay” venues that some friends of mine choose to avoid are in fact popular with straight people (e.g. hen parties) who simply enjoy socialising with gay men, further casting doubt upon the existence of a “community” based on sexual orientation.

            The term, as I said above, is problematic in much the same way as terms defining ethnic “communities” are problematic. One does not have to spend a lot of time living in majority black neighbourhoods before one learns about the antipathies that exist between Africans and Caribbeans, or between people from different African countries or different Caribbean islands, or, indeed, between different tribes within African countries and between Christians and Muslims (among Nigerians in particular). And further to those distinctions there are important distinctions between black people of different educational, professional, and social backgrounds. University-educated, politically engaged, middle-class professionals (often socially conservative church-goers) typically show an aversion to the rap and hiphop culture that glorifies gangs, violence, misogyny, and racism among the poor and the uneducated.

            We should be careful about seeing specific groups as “communities”. Those of us who are in the majority would be surprised to find ourselves described as “the straight community”, “the white community”, “the sighted/hearing/able-bodied community”, etc. We should not assume that LGBT people, ethnic minorities, disabled people, etc. are happy to have their diversity and identities eroded by being made to belong to artificial “communities” defined for them by the majority.

        2. DM says:


          Don’t hold your breath that anything will change in that regard. The velvet mafia will emerge from this stronger than ever, and their obvious misogyny will continue to be excused and covered up by their deluded female allies.

          I wish it weren’t so, but it is. If it weren’t for the society dames, none of this would happen. Well, a lot of it.


          (PS, I first heard the rumors about Levine in 1978. 1978.)

  9. harold braun says:

    Anonymous sources….oh boy!Where we gone,anything resembling decent journalism has be gone here.Horrible.Maybe you should form a posse of vigilants and go on hunt…

    1. Bruce says:

      So Harold — please tell us what you would deem an acceptable level of evidence to back up a claim (i.e. for you not to dismiss it as “loser with unverifiable sob story”).

    2. JanetLee says:

      Thank you Harold this is like a High school bathroom

  10. JMW says:

    “In music in particular and the arts in general, competence can be hard to prove if you are not given the opportunity.” Well said and while this thread is dealing with sexual harassment, the words above ring sadly and loudly to black orchestral conductors. There needs to be an ongoing thread about this veritable elephant in the classical music room. Nothing like a lack of opportunity to passively negate a presence.

    1. Bruce says:

      The Spokane (WA) Symphony is currently searching for a music director. I have not viewed the materials of every applicant, but am unaware of any black applicants so far. I would LOVE to see a qualified black applicant in our candidate pool. Details at The application window closes soon, though (less than a week — 12/20).

      1. JMW says:

        Bruce, thank you for that information.

      2. Old Man in the Midwest says:

        Roderick Cox, assistant in MN, would be an excellent candidate and worthy of an interview and audition.

    2. Doug says:

      Are you against rap artists making millions? Are you not only a cultural snob but a racist to boot?

    3. JanetLee says:

      That’s His story . Who is he that he couldn’t cut it in New York ? All we have is a ” grim” tale without verification : meaningless

  11. Charles Fischbein says:

    Harold having left a highly published position twenty five years ago at a nationally published newspaper I can tell you that unnamed sources are used and approved by veteran journalists and editors every day.
    The Watergate incident was first reported to the Washington Post by anonymous sources.
    Law enforcement also uses anonymous sources every day.
    Wake up and get out of the men’s room.

    1. JanetLee says:

      This entire thread reads like Mean Girls IN
      The Girls Room

  12. Amos says:

    It appears that JL’s personal flaws were limitless. I recall reading an account of his interactions with the baritone Sherrill Milnes in which after years of enormously successful collaborations, the last of which was with Milnes participating in a gala salute to the Met and/or JL, the music director suddenly decided the baritone was no longer of use to him and ended all communications. As for his musical gifts, sorry to sound snide, but I always found him to be Szell-lite. Supposedly in private it was Uncle George wants every 1/16th note in place whereas publicly 64-70 were an invaluable experience and well worth leaving Julliard for. Good riddance!!

    1. Mark says:

      That’s because Milnes’ voice was in decline and he was getting very bad reviews.

      1. Yes Addison says:

        True. But equally true of Levine’s own work (with “conducting” rather than “voice”) this decade.

        1. Mark says:

          Have to disagree – even in the last 2-3 years, most Levine-lead performances have been great. Just to mention a few, his Nabucco, Italiana in Algeri, Zauberflote, Tannhauser. And the two concerts at Carnegie Hall with the Met orchestra in 2015 were simply stupendous.

  13. Steve P says:

    Thank goodness the arts community is about to undergo a major purging: talent is going to be the predominate factor in getting a job, not who performs the best sexual favor.
    And then pigs will fly.

    1. M2N2K says:

      Not necessarily in that order.

  14. Has-been says:

    Certainly Milnes was the most important American baritone after Merrill and gave priority to the Met/Levine for probably a quarter of a century. But, there is no good way to say it is over, especially at the Met who had so many long term stars, Tucker. Peters, Hines, Stevens etc. They can not all have gala farewells. Levine never liked personal confrontations and it would have been very awkward for him to confront Mlnes. Sometimes there is simply no way to say ‘Goodby’.

    1. Bruce says:

      In a biography I read of Karajan (the author followed HvK around for a period of time and interviewed people he was working with, as well as others he had worked with), there was a similar story with Sena Jurinac — she sang for him for ~20 years, and then the phone stopped ringing and she never heard from him again. The end.

      1. Yes Addison says:

        Janowitz says something similar, without rancor, in a documentary about Karajan from about ten years ago. She had just performed something with him (Brahms Requiem, I think?) and he came to her after the performance, took her hands in his and thanked her in a way she interpreted to mean for all their years of performing together, rather than just for that performance. She knew it was over. He never asked for her again.

    2. Amos says:

      It goes without saying that it’s a pity JL couldn’t extend his aversion to professional confrontations to his personal life. Also condoning anti-social behavior because HvK acted similarly is a truly stunning argument for the defense. As for overlooking the abuse given his artistic talents, which is a nauseating rationalization, for someone who recorded extensively with the CSO, PO, VPO & BPO I can’t think of a single performance that I’ve ever opted to listen to twice or read a review that regarded it as essential listening. Please spare me the argument that his art doesn’t translate to recordings.

      1. Bruce says:

        Since I’m the one who mentioned Karajan, I guess I’m the one you’re accusing of using his example to condone what Levine is accused of.

        I was only trying to use that story to say “conductors can be very strange.”

  15. Sharon says:

    From everything I have read it appears that Pai was suffering from clinical depression which he blamed on Levine. He may also blame him for his lack of professional success as well.
    I did not realize that Pai was advised by someone in the classical music world to go to the police; I had mistakenly assumed that since he knew that criminal charges would not stick that he was just trying to symbolically empower himself by pressing charges. In other words I had assumed that Pai had pressed charges as a therapeutic exercise.
    He certainly did not expect the Lake Forest police to announce this to the press and is probably devastated as how this has snowballed, especially as he did, and may still, have some feelings for Mr. Levine.
    Incidentally, does anyone know what Pai is doing now? I know that he was profiled on “Boys Night Out” the men’s fashion section of the online edition of New York Magazine. Is he working as a model?
    I myself once made the mistake, in a very different context, of advising someone to take legal action that I thought would mainly be a therapeutic exercise but instead it backfired in terrible ways.
    I am sure that Mr. Lebrecht meant well and that he was hoping to do something about the abuse in the classical music world. However, I fear, as a psychiatric nurse, that if the Met’s report condemns Levine, which would result in Mr Levine permanently maintaining his pariah status, that both Mr Levine AND Mr. Pai would have to be put on a suicide prevention watch.

    1. Robert Holmén says:

      I suspect that this result has given Pai some long-needed validation. That other people have come out to corroborate his experience with their own tells him that it wasn’t just him, it wasn’t just his imagination and that he’s not some strange freak.

      Note that the Lake Forest police did not “announce this to the press” and that “Boys Night Out” is just a feature where a photographer stops club-goers and asks them what they are wearing. It’s unlikely Pai is pursuing a modeling career at 48.

    2. Saxon Broken says:

      Are you saying that Levine’s alleged transgressions should be ignored since he might end up feeling bad about it?

      1. Sharon says:

        As I said in another blog post, it is not a question of just “feeling bad”. Clinical depression is a serious disease with a physiological base that has people feeling bad physically as well as distorting thinking.
        Strong personalities in the arts tend to feel more intensely and so many in the arts are manic depressives (although I am NOT saying that Levine necessarily is) with dramatic mood swings and are prone to addictions, including food and sex.
        Levine’s back is against the wall and he is being rejected from the world and work that he uses to define himself. Levine himself said in his statement that he considers his purpose in life to be to teach and work at the Met. Look at how hard he worked on physical therapy to get himself back to the point where he could continue conducting and how frequently he worked as a conductor and teacher when he was in much pain–he refused to retire and said in a Sixty Minutes interview that when he returned to the Met after his accident that he “got his life back”.
        In addition Levine probably still has serious and chronic physical pain, in spite of medication, which can also lead physiologically to depression
        In this case these factors are compounded by working in an environment of stories where suicide is seen as the solution, frequently the heroic solution, for characters facing current or anticipated punishments, scandals, or bereavements. Levine is facing all three (the bereavement being the anticipated loss of jobs, status, and titles). As I have stated several times before, for someone so intensely involved in the arts life begins to imitate art.
        Very recently the conviction of the general of the Croatian forces in the Yugoslav civil war in the early nineties, I believe that his name was Prilojac, for crimes against humanity was upheld on appeal in the international court in the Hague. In civilian life he used to be a theater director. Upon hearing the verdict in the courtroom he shouted that he rejected the verdict and then drank some cyanide that he had snuck into the courtroom and died. Although he had already served most of what his sentence he must have feared that living a life as a pariah branded as a human rights abuser would be intolerable. In his distorted thinking, probably induced by depression (which can present as anger or anxiety), he probably believed that his suicide would be ending his life with honor as a brave protest.
        Historians now believe something similar may have happened to Maria Callas. She was facing serious physical health problems. She was unable to make a comeback and was isolated in the opera world and she was condemned, and probably condemned herself, for personal scandals (namely her affair with Onassis), which according to her husband in his book, was very much against her own moral code. Her husband stated that she left what amounted to a suicide note.
        I truly hope that I am wrong and that Levine will have enough resilience to reinvent himself or live in retirement content and satisfied because of all his previous accomplishments. However, I fear that this is a disaster waiting to happen

  16. Kathy says:

    Sour grapes. Getting groped is no fun, as most women can tell you, and there is certainly plenty of nasty and petty revenge taking in the arts in general and the Met in particular, but if you got to the Met you got a fair shot at making it. To describe the place as corrupt is very exaggerated and leads to the kind of witch hunting and name calling that I personally find regrettable at best.

  17. Sheila says:

    According to a “well-established music administrator”, “A clique around the music director was there to enforce his wishes.”
    Any names at all, besides Levine?
    An anonymous claim against an anonymous “clique”: Very informative.

  18. Rufus says:

    Hang on a minute everybody – what about some compassion for the victims on both sides in this? You can’t convince me that the man who gave us, the most uplifting Meistersinger I have ever heard (December 2001) and so much else besides can find any meaningful fulfilment in this sexual molesting. It’s about time we started treating paedophillia (and let’s not forget that he hasn’t been charged with anything, anonymous accusers notwithstanding) for what it really is – an illness and a compulsion and not a simple abuse of power. It’s only through this that we’re going to improve the situation.

    1. Robert Holmén says:

      He had a long run with everything going his way.

      Now, for a few weeks, things aren’t and it’s unfair?

      1. Sharon says:

        It seems that what Levine did was not paedophilia. He did not seduce people who were underage according to the letter of the law.
        However sex addiction may be a disease. And in any addiction people become so fixed on satisfying the craving that they do not see the effect of their actions on others. Addicts are by definition self centered and tend to objectify others, at least in relation to satisfying the addiction. Power and acceptance games are SOMETIMES part of sex addiction. That is, winning the seduction or having power over somebody sexually may be more satisfying than the physical sex act itself. It is easier to seduce a younger person or person who needs you for important favors, such as career advancement.
        Nevertheless, and this is why I am so ambivalent about this, the reason is not the excuse. If someone who has attention deficit disorder is driving and is focused on thinking about something other than the driving and then hits a pedestrian, can the fact that he did not really “see” the pedestrian be used as an excuse? Of course not. It is his responsibility to be mindful of his potential effect on others even if recognizing that effect might be more difficult for him than it would be for the average person in that situation. For the same reason addiction cannot be used as an excuse for a hit and run accident or mugging someone to get money for a fix.
        More than any “disease” of paedophilia or sex addiction that Levine might have had I blame the the times in which Levine came of age. Consent and harrassment laws geared to a society which did not have large hierarchial bureaucracies had not yet been changed. Pseudo Freudian ideas that sexual repression blocked creativity were common. It would have been very easy for Levine to rationalize his behavior and convince others to go along.
        As for myself if I objectified Levine as a political object or symbol of the abuse of power it would be easy for me to say that sexual harassment by the powerful will continue unless there are consequences and perhaps we could get a lot of mileage politically over making an example of Levine.
        If, however, I looked at Levine as a human being, I see an older man, in chronic pain, in a wheelchair, facing losing what is most important to him in life.
        A real dilemma

        1. Kathy says:

          Well said, I particularly like the analogy of the ADD driver. Furthermore, I thought that what Rufus was saying was that someone like Levine needs help and treatment. There’s a lot to be said for that point of view. Pedophilia cannot be condoned or ignored on any level, and there has to be prompt and adequate redress for victims – of which Levine is not one, but he is a sick man. Clearly, he is driven by something that is harmful and that he cannot control. ‘Not a simple abuse of power’ is certainly correct. This is one of the things that has bothered me the most about this issue – what is the solution??? Calling the police may sometimes be necessary, but even if they do something, it is not an answer to the problem. Pedophilia cannot be tolerated, especially by powerful institutions, but there has to be understanding (not necessarily forgiveness) and treatment, and the abuser has to be kept from doing further harm, which is problematic, because I don’t think we really have the proper facilities for all of that. Let’s talk about that, rather than casting blame and endlessly discussing how guilty this or that one really is.

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