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What James Levine wants

March 16, 2018 by norman lebrecht

82 comments.


The saying at the Met for the past 40 years has been ‘what Jimmy wants, Jimmy gets’.

Last night Levine filed a $5.8 million lawsuit against the Metropolitan Opera, claiming unfair dismissal.

Money aside, he also wants a reinstatement of his reputation.

The Met has told him it will resist both demands.

So what’s really going on?

Levine’s past protestations of loyalty to the Met are being undermined by a hefty lawsuit that the company can ill afford. He would have known that before launching his claim. The Met, for its part, cannot afford for the case to come to court in case any of its officers is shown to have been aware of the conductor’s alleged misdemeanours.

So there will be a financial settlement, some way short of $5.8 million, funded by one or two board members.

And something else. Levine made it clear last night in his deposition that he felt betrayed by Peter Gelb, whom he accused of ‘a longstanding personal campaign to force Levine out of the Met.’

Levine helped put Gelb in his job 12 years ago. Now he’s signalling to the board that he won’t go quietly if Gelb keeps his seat. Gelb has just become a bargaining chip. Somebody is going to blink first.

 


Comments (82)

  1. John D'armes says:

    The lawsuit and copies of JL’s contracts were posted on “another site.”

    No morals clause, it seems.

    1. Mark says:

      I read the complaint.
      There are both contractual and tort (defamation) claims.
      Very well drafted (I wouldn’t expect anything less from this particular attorney)
      The relief sought is financial, and includes punitive damages (which, depending on the jury, might run into millions).

  2. Marcus Clayton says:

    I can’t believe for a second that Levine or his attorney wants this lawsuit to go to court.
    If it did, then surely the results of the Met’s internal investigation into the sexual abuse claims against Levine would surely be revealed in court. Would Levine and his attorney really want his personal life exposed in court?
    I think that ultimately this lawsuit is about money. I would guess that Levine has gotten pressure from CAMI to try and eek out more money from the Met. After all, if Levine doesn’t get paid, then neither does CAMI.
    I would imagine though, that the Met’s own attorney’s advised them that they could legally fire Levine, based upon some wording or clause in his contract.
    If this is the case, then the lawsuit will likely be tossed out by a judge.
    As for the defamation part of it, Levine is seriously delusional to think that there is any way his reputation can be restored at this point. His massive ego is just mind-boggling.
    He just can’t let go of the Met. Why can’t he just retire and let the Met move on?
    If he really cared about the Met that is what he should do.
    The Levine era at the Met is over, and he should accept it.
    Levine is done, his career over.
    Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin is the new music director.
    Hopefully this stupid lawsuit will quickly go away.

    1. M2N2K says:

      No one can “just retire” after being fired.

      1. Una says:

        Exactly, and so many experts here who obviously know James Levine and Peter Gelb so well. Innocent until found guilty, and trial by social media not good.

        1. carson says:

          Except that Levine hasn’t been able to conduct decently for a decade or more and fiercely resisted stepping down no matter what! So finally Gelb can do something for the good of the company! People just don’t realize how demoralizing it has been for so many years. I say GOOD RIDDANCE!!

          1. Anon says:

            Exactement. JL should have resigned many years ago, for musical and operational reasons alone.

    2. Mark says:

      It is highly unlikely that Levine’s lawyers would asset a contractual claim if the contract expressly allowed his termination – that would have been a frivolous claim, that could damage the attorneys’ credibility (and even subject them to discipline).
      And a good lawyer can make mincemeat out of any accuser on the stand. If they refuse to take the stand, they’ll be forced to issue a retraction or face a personal defamation suit (which is very expensive to defend).
      At any case, Levine has more than decent chance here.
      P.S. To hell with the Tiny Canadian Hot Dog !

      1. martain smith says:

        The reputation of the legal profession in America is familiar. Whatever sh.. they can fabricate appears to blend with the structure and mentality of the nation, and fake news is so “en vogue”, after all!

        However, Jimmy; “reinstatement of reputation”?
        Dream on!

        If even it were worth saving! After all… is he Carlos Kleiber? NOOOOOO!

        The World isn’t quite as stupid as one might think, and the name is tarnished forever.

        1. Mark says:

          The world isn’t stupid ? Given its propensity to rush to judgment and develop collective hysteria at the drop of a hat ?
          You could have fooled me …

          1. Hrbmus says:

            And your propensity for Trumpish name-calling eloquently adumbrates your own world-class stupidity…

          2. Anon says:

            spot on!

        2. Mark says:

          Feeling better, pumpkin?
          Nice word “adumbrates” – studying for our SATs, are we ?
          BTW, I love it how Trump drives self-righteous pantywaists like you crazy – that alone is a reason to support him 😀

          1. V.Lind says:

            Sounds about the level of thinking of most of those who did support him. Prejudiced, envious, and utterly uneducated, even in the school of life.

          2. Mark says:

            V. Lind – congratulations, this is just the attitude that got Trump into the White House. Keep doing this, and the Presidency will became the hereditary office of the Trump family 😀 Prejudice is calling anyone who disagrees with you racist, sexist, classist etc. (or, for that matter, convicting a great man on the Internet without any evidence and subjecting him to a Twitter lynching). As for the “uneducated” part – I am an Ivy-league educated attorney.
            Now, put on your pu…y hat and run along

          3. HRBmus says:

            Ivy League … how self-impressed you are! Paid all that tuition and apparently didn’t learn a thing about how to be a decent human being. Just like your hero, Trumputin. Ivy league grade-school playground bully.

  3. boringfileclerk says:

    Jimmy brought in Gelb to cover up for him, and Gelb didn’t do his job in the end and tried to save his own arse in the process. I say this should go to court so that everyone can hear the ugly truth of the matter. In this way, maybe both Levine and Gelb can go to jail, and the board will be forced to resign in shame. New leadership top down will be needed in order to resurrect the MET’s reputation. No one cares about Levine’s.

    1. John Borstlap says:

      Agreed. The only way in which this utterly distasteful episode can get rid of, is to dig it out entirely and publicly, so that transparancy is restored and thus the possibility of renewal, and change all the protagonists. This story is not only damaging the theatre and JL, but also opera as an art form, in a time when classical music is under unprecedented pressures.

      1. Raouf Zaidan says:

        Agreed . How sad this all is .
        The idealism and beauty , dedication and sacrifice
        that belong at the center of the great opera tradition ,
        are diminished by such scandalous news .

        Soliman the Wise advised two mother’s who claimed ownership of a child , that they
        split the child in half and each take her share . One of the mother’s immediately
        gave up her claim . She was the real mother , of course .

        Lets see who may act with true love , sacrifice and dedication to protect the sanctity and
        authenticity of the great opera tradition that we all love .

    2. Olassus says:

      Agree, except for the first phrase: Sills made the Gelb appointment happen, not Levine, who merely went along.

      1. boringfileclerk says:

        Perhaps Sills was bringing him in on JL’s behest. I cannot believe anyone would be brought into the fold without the implicit understanding that JL be protected regardless of his actions.

        1. erich says:

          Let us not forget that the ‘Godfather’ Ronald Wilford was still practicing his Machiavellian machinations at that time and that Gelb was his creature. Things might well look different today were he still pulling the strings!

          1. Novagerio says:

            Erich: Precisely. Wilford was the machiavellian Godfather, but Gelb was the PR film-maker of the CAMI promotion films. You can see a corner of a young Gelb in various documentaries about Karajan in Salzburg, Horowitz in Russia, Jessie Norman recording Carmen etc. Nobody is going to fool anyone about Gelb’s then lack of knowledge about the Levine rumours! And Wilford is dead (and CAMI with him!), so he doesn’t have to give a sh*t anyway…

    3. Dalibor says:

      I would like to correct the perception of many of the posters here about the Met’s board of directors. Unlike in Europe, the board members of an American not-for-profit group such as the Metropolitan Opera Association are not appointed by a governmental or any other agency. They are a self-renewing group made up principally of large donors. People are recruited for the board in most cases due to their ability to make major financial contributions. The Met board cannot resign en masse without the opera company ceasing to exist. While the Met has widespread support via donations from subscribers, foundations, corporations, and individual donors, a very big part of the Met’s financial support comes from the board. The Met has gone through many crises in the past, but the board has never resigned en masse, and never will. The board, who are unpaid, generally know only whatever the management tells them. Levine has been at the Met far longer than most of the current board member, maybe longer than any of them. Whatever his misdeeds, it’s highly likely that few of the current board were in office during the time when those events occurred. There is of course the issue of the board’s actions or lack thereof when they were informed of the charges against Levine in October 2016. But you can be certain that they received competent legal advice that informed the decision to wait and see what the Illinois police investigation produced.

    4. Dalibor says:

      Levine did not hire Gelb. He was probably told about his candidacy and perhaps was questioned as to what he thought of the idea. But he would not have been asked to approve or disapprove. Levine knew Gelb from the time the latter worked at the Met as the head of the telecast series, I believe it was in the late 1980s. It is true that both had their careers promoted by Ronald Wilford. It is also true that Beverly Sills was chiefly responsible for Gelb’s getting the job at the Met. But Levine’s position as music director in 2004-05 would not have included responsibilities for hiring a new general manager or even veto power over the board’s choice.

      1. Saxon Broken says:

        However, a powerful Music Director is likely to be asked about the candidates for general manager and have considerable informal influence over the choice. An especially powerful Music Director might, informally, make the choice.

    5. Robert W says:

      Where on earth do you people get this kind of absolute rubbish ? Go back to this site a decade ago and RESEARCH how Gelb got his job. Petty gossip resulting from your own imagination people ? Unless you work at the Metropolitan Opera, are a close confidante of any of the main parties involved here, you don’t have an opinion worth reading because you don’t actually know anything factual. For you, this is all guess work and most of you are wrong and some of you are gratuitously nasty. ( get a therapist = don’t use this venue to purge your rage about something unrelated ).
      As for the employee who has complained about Mo. Levine’s conducting over the past decade …, maybe you had problems . That’s your perspective. I certainly was not the opinion of the entire company or, for that matter, the hundreds of soloists who stood on that stage and seemed to manage. Yes, there were changes. We have all aged and changed including you. Adjustments are made technically. The Metropolitan Opera is blessed to have among the most brilliant concertmasters in the world : DAVID CHEN is such a one. Where there is confusion, he will lead ; he will guide. The world class orchestra ( that Jimmy crafted until about 8 years ago) are completely brilliant at covering for all types of conductor.

      1. carson says:

        Excuse me, how do you know how much I have *changed*? Maybe I’m as good or better than ever, unlike Levine. The point is, I don’t have Parkinson’s. 40 years is quite enough for any music director and I can hardly think of anyone in orchestral history who has lasted as long with one organization with the exception of Ormandy; and the Philly musicians were complaining constantly about his moribund performances. I’m sure that the singers did just fine during JL’s many mediocre performances but that has more to do with the music staff than anyone else. Come on, admit it, the magic hasn’t been there for many years and we are all paying the price for management’s cowardice in confronting the 2000 elephant in the room. And to think how much money they spent on all that ridiculous crap to get him in and out of the pit–I heard it cost many thousands of dollars. And for what? Now that YNS is here we can finally look forward to greatness again. Not only is he a great musician but he is a real gentleman, unlike the sociopathic Mr. L.

        1. Sharon says:

          As far as the elevator is concerned, any work organization is required by law to make “reasonable accommodations”. The Met will have that elevator forever and can use it for other conductors and many others who need a way to get a wheelchair in and out of the pit for years to come.

          1. carson says:

            It won’t be needed for anyone else. What conductor has ever conducted from a damn wheelchair? Give me a break.

        2. Mark says:

          If you think Tiny Yannick (Something -Something) is a great musician, you must be smoking something that even Cheech and Chong would refuse …

          1. carson says:

            I know what a musician would and does see. You, however…

          2. carson says:

            And is his physical stature a problem for you? Or what is your problem, really? He is a fantastic conductor. Take it from me. Otherwise, how could you possibly have an opinion?

          3. Mark says:

            Oh, I need your sanction for my opinion ? Do tell me who appointed you the Supreme Arbiter ? Excuse me, oh the Swollen Head, I don’t give a fig about your approval.
            A number of the Met musicians I know, while saying he is a very nice guy, aren’t that impressed so far. And I’ve spoken to several singers (including a very famous soprano) who told me that he doesn’t listen to them and they don’t feel secure on stage. That soprano said (an exact quote) “I wish Jimmy could teach him a few things!”
            He looks funny (and behaves like a sitcom homo). But as far as his conducting is concerned – he is a capable musician with a penchant for superficial brilliance. So far, nothing special. If he grows into the role, I’d be happy to change my view.

      2. Antonia says:

        Just wanted to say David’s surname is CHAN, rather than Chen. I know him.

        1. Robert W says:

          Thank you Antonia
          I do apologize for my typo there ! The correct spelling of the Metropolitan Operas concert master to whom I was referring ( there are two) is indeed. DAVID CHAN !
          Further, Peter Gelb is the only person who chooses his Board. As was explained earlier, all they have to be in this country is rich, and on this board blinded by Gelbs spin. He does not allow them to meet and greet the employees ( the “ unions “ whom he charges with destroying the Met ) probably fearful they will get an earful of the TRUTH.
          The rank and file at the Metropolitan Opera Company are FAMILY.
          In truth, we have not been happy with PG. Morale is very low. His business model, his idea of what the Met needs for success in terms of new productions has simply not been right.
          It was a noble experiment but we are overdue for a new General Manager who really knows this business,( not just want to make films) is conversant with all details of this Great Opera House and is willing to listen to
          The Seasoned Pros who know exactly what does and does not work for our Theater, our employees, and our treasured audience members … so many of whom we have lost over the past decade.

  4. Riichatd says:

    I’ve said this before: Responsibilty resides with the Board. Jimmy’s non-musical “conduct” has been an open secret for a long time. . One might well question whether payments/settlements have been payed out over the years, with board approval. At this point, more debt will only accumulate for the Met. Jimmy is concerned only about Jimmy. Gelb has yet again proved his incompetence. And, the Board sleeps on. Get rid of the whole lot.

  5. Caravaggio says:

    Here is the lawsuit
    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/03/16/arts/music/document-James-Levine-Met-Opera-Complaint.html

    Let’s just say that nothing makes any living creature cower more than a strongly worded lawsuit. Looks like the tactic is to bring Gelb down on his knees which may or may not happen but will likely happen. The other thing this makes obvious is Levine’s own denial, overblown sense of importance, and arrogance. But wait, there’s more. It also lets on another obvious: Gelb and Board’s failure to act at the time they were notified of the Illinois police report in October 2016. Well, the stage has been set. And it is an alligator tank, a shark infested sea or a snake pit. Your choice.

  6. Scott says:

    Levine has about the same chance to win his lawsuit against the Met as Alberich has of being selected on the Bachelorette.

  7. Barry Michael Okun says:

    Just to be clear about the law, that’s a complaint, not a deposition.

    It’s a pleading prepared by Levine’s lawyers, not a sworn statement by Levine.

  8. Jeanne says:

    Wow — just read all the docts. This is really between Levine & Gelb and Levine is going for Gelb’s jugular. Levine might actually be in a strong position strictly with respect to the contractual terms of service and monies to be paid, given that there is no “morals” clause for termination. Defamation of character might be harder to prove, if the accusers testify under oath as to the sordid details. In retrospect, I wish Levine had retired for good after the Met Guild luncheon where he was the guest of honor, surrounded by all the singers he had coached, even Millo was there. Perhaps the two sides could have been left with some semblance of dignity.

  9. Doug says:

    Anyone have any recommendations for gourmet popcorn?

  10. Scotsman says:

    The one-day story. A few decades ago, Congressman Barney Frank, a powerful Washongton figure, had a major scandal. His live-in boy-toy was discovered running a gay prostitution racket from Frank’s house. His press conference the next day admitted all. He apologized, tossed the boy and promised personal reform. It was a One Day Story. Frank was re-elected and continued his much-honored career until retirement. What benefits no one is an Endless Story. Just ask Clinton and Nixon.

    1. Sharon says:

      I agree. I am thinking also of NYC mayor David Dinkins who made a big comeback and became mayor after tax evasion or New York State governor Cuomo who made a comeback a few years after being cuckolded by his then wife (in those days men were blamed and thought of as wussies when a wife cheated). Had Levine admitted his conduct, including any favoritism to Met musicians whom he may have used as toyboys after came to the Met, laid low for about two years which could have coincided with the time he needed for health recovery, and stopped the conduct, which it appears he did by his fifties anyway, we would not be blogging about this today.
      If the person involved in the scandal does not treat it as a secretive scandal others will not either. Sometimes, honesty is indeed the best policy

  11. Posy Ryan says:

    Stockholm Syndrome.

  12. Let the punishment fit the crime.

    In Hell, Levine and Gelb will share a cell, forever.

  13. Nick says:

    Shame on the Met Opera, shame on P. Gelb. Unforgivable! A witch hunt continues!

    1. V.Lind says:

      Well, the continuation here does seem to have originated with Levine.

      He was all but gone anyway, and all but useless in his un-gone bits (eternal cancellations, etc.). To have accepted that might have been graceful, but with the accusations swirling and the Met’s public dissociation with him, to sit quietly in disabled retirement might have looked, despite his statements of “innocence,” to be a bit feeble. This legal action is meant to reinforce his claims. Money demands are probably incidental, and a settlement seems likely to be his desired outcome. Pity; it would have been the best trial since OJ.

    2. Anon says:

      Not all witch hunts are unjustified. Particularly if the witches like to eat children.
      BTW, do we know of JL conducting Hansel&Gretel at the Met?

  14. Sharon Beth Long says:

    From the letters it sounds like Lestock wanted to ingratiate himself with Levine or at least not have Levine forget him because he wanted some favors, like a job at the Met or perhaps elsewhere through Levine’s recommendation. When Levine did not come through Lestock (considering the sexual relationship and the promises Levine made to the Levinites) felt used and betrayed.

  15. Sharon Beth Long says:

    I read the deposition–Wow.!!! I have some questions for the lawyer bloggers or those who know more about this stuff.

    1. The deposition strongly implies that Gelb made the decision to turn Levine into Maestro Emeritus unilaterally. I used to be on the board of directors of a small social service non profit. It would be unheard of for an executive director to change the job description of senior administrative staff without approval of the board. Could this really have been permitted at the Met?

    2. The deposition says that Gelb turned Levine into maestro emeritus used the excuse that Levine was too old and too sick but since there was no evidence to prove that this was true Gelb’s real motive was envy.
    Can one just impute a motive to somebody with no real evidence in a legal document of this type?

    3. If what is stated on the deposition is true, why didn’t Levine complain of age or disability rights discrimination, perhaps even threaten or initiate a lawsuit, when he was first made emeritus? Why don’t his lawyers focus on the age and disability rights angle now? From what the deposition says they could make a very strong case.

    4. The deposition claims there was never a moral turpitude clause,or any clause that permitted firing, in any contract. If this were the case how could the board and its lawyers even possibly consider firing Levine? Could there have been another, previous contract, some of whose clauses the Met may believe are ongoing, concerning moral turpitude or permitting firing? If not, was there any offer of a settlement that was just not discussed in the deposition? Is there more to the contract story, or might it be a case of me underestimating the Met’s lawyers’ capacity for error?

    5. The language of the entire deposition seems pretty strong for a legal document. If I
    wrote that way describing anybody or anything as a nurse it would be called “highly unprofessional”. Is this the modus operandi in depositions or petitions used as a way of legal posturing, as Mr. Lebrecht believes, or is something else going on?

    In the unlikely event that this does go to court, which may be in a couple of years from now considering the court calendar, I’d love to be a fly on the wall. It would be worth it to me to find out the calendar date which I know has not yet been set and be on the “rush line” at 7 am to be sure to get a seat in the courtroom since New York State Supreme Court trials are public (For those not from New York State the New York State Supreme Court is actually a lower civil court; it has nothing to do with the United States Supreme Court).
    As V.Lind says, with its elements of sex, rejection, breakups, betrayal, jealousy, deception, big money, problems of youth, cult leadership, problems of old age and disability, flamboyant prominent characters etc. this would be the best trial since O.J, In fact, it would be more interesting and more symbolic of what is going on in our economy, society, and culture.
    Although the prurient side of me says this, the nursey side of me does hope that this can be resolved relatively easily. In high school I learned that the difference between melodrama and tragedy is that in tragedy the heroes are at least partially responsible for their own problems. In that sense, apart from the truth or falsity of the sex charges, this is indeed a tragedy for all concerned. May everyone involved find a way to put this mess behind them and find peace.
    Also, although my experience in the past has shown that legal actions done out of anger tend to backfire, if fighting this keeps Levine feisty and active, instead of sliding into depression and despair, it may be worth it.

    1. Sharon says:

      Excuse me, when I said deposition I meant complaint.

    2. Mark says:

      This is a court of law – a strongly worded complaint presenting your client in the best possible light is necessary to commence litigation (there will be an equally strong reply, and, possibly, counter-claims from the Met)

      An earlier contract doesn’t matter, unless it is incorporated by reference into the new one (I didn’t see a clause of that sort in the exhibits to the complaint).
      Presumably, the Met might try to convince the court to read some general union rules about safety in the workplace )or even a statutory provision). But that is not easy to do – the courts generally defer to a written understanding between the parties and don’t particularly like amending contacts.

      Finally, for Levine to claim disability and/or age discrimination would prejudice his own case – that would imply that he is unable to perform his contractual duties.

      1. Mark says:

        *read into the contract

        1. Sharon B Long says:

          Thank you Mark. I believe that from what you are saying that Levine has a very strong case. Do you believe that if Gelb leaves he would want to be reinstated or just expects compensation?

          1. Mark says:

            He does have a very good contract case. Defamation is very difficult to prove in the US. Of course, if some really sordid details come out in court, he might settle, but something tells me that he (and his lawyers) are prepared & have many tricks up their sleeves.
            I believe that music is his life, so he’d fight for his reinstatement for as long as possible (and I hope he wins – Levine is probably the most talented conductor of his generation, his health problems notwithstanding. When Leonard Bernstein was asked who were the most talented among the younger conductors he said, Carlos (Kleiber) and Jimmy)

          2. Been Here Before says:

            Mark – Do you sincerely believe that after all the damage has been done, Levine would be able to go back to conducting as if nothing happened even if he won the case at court?

          3. Mark says:

            @Been Here Before – as far as I am concerned, in the absence of a criminal conviction, he can and should do whether he wants. He is a great musician – to me, nothing else matters.

          4. Been Here Before says:

            To rephrase my question – have you ever thought about the reactions of the audience, many of whom may not share the same view of Levine as you?

      2. Mark says:

        @Been There – I’ve been asking people I know who attend performances at the Met regularly. Admittedly, it’s an unscientific poll – but out of about 30 people I’ve asked, almost everyone said that they’d be happy if he came back, if he isn’t indicted. I believe the Met audiences are more mature than the pop culture crowds.
        Besides, Levine has many loyal admirers (myself included), who’ve always looked forward to his appearances.

        1. Stuart says:

          I don’t subscribe to the me-too hysteria, but realistically it is hard to imagine that we’ll see another film with Kevin Spacey nor another concert or opera conducted by Levine. I date back to Levine’s Ravinia days, but I wouldn’t attend a Levine performance in future. Polling aside, that’s just me.

      3. Saxon Broken says:

        Mark: Genuinely curious. Is the contract just the words written into the contract or are there requirements on both sides over-and-above what is written. For example, can the Met fire an employee for bringing the organisation into disrepute even without a specific clause in the contract?

        Additionally, to be reinstated, Levine will have to show he can perform his duties. Part of that is a musical judgement, about which people will have different opinions.

  16. Dalibor says:

    I posted a comment last evening — totally uncontroversial and merely informational — but it has not been published. As it’s my first time posting, I don’t know what the criteria are. Is there some sort of process to be accepted as a poster?

    1. Sharon Beth Long says:

      I don’t think so. Perhaps your email address was not correct?

  17. collin says:

    I tend to agree with NL’s assessment, no way the Board is going to let this suit devolve into a spectacle of a trial, it damages and sullies the Met way too much even if it were to prevail against Levine.

    The Met board can collect $5.8 million at a board meeting just going around the table once.

    1. V.Lind says:

      But by paying up, don’t they tacitly admit they were wrong (legally) while morally it appears they are endorsing Levine? If they can pony up all that dosh for a settlement, they could pony it up for a trial. The Met comes out of this better than Levine if it goes to trial — if they threaten to go that route, he may drop the suit.

      I suspect this gets dragged out till mortality makes it moot.

    2. Saxon Broken says:

      If Levine insists on being reinstated, rather than being paid-off, then the Met will have to go to trial. And it seems that continuing to conduct at the Met is what Levine wants.

  18. rg says:

    Defeat Levine’s lawsuit first, then fire Gelb.

    1. laurie says:

      On the basis of the statements in his complaint, Levine seems to have a very good contract case and it’s clear that he wants his job back. He does not need the money. It’s hard to see how this can work out without serious damage to the Met since they can’t reinstate him given what their investigative findings state. They seem to be boxed in.

      1. Bill says:

        of course it looks like a strong case reading the original complaint written by a skilled lawyer – that’s the goal. But until we see the Met’s answer, we have a rather one-sided view, and I expect this isn’t the first time at the rodeo for the Met’s lawyers, either. Plenty of time to make popcorn yet!

        1. laurie says:

          if the contract has no morals clause, that would make his a strong case. Producing an old contract with such a clause would require language that they are incorporated by reference in order to make it relevant to his firing. I am sure you will have plenty of time to eat your popcorn.

          1. Bill says:

            Strikes me as highly unlikely that the Met management failed to consult their legal counsel about whether or not they could fire Levine, or that a wrongful termination suit comes as a surprise to them. JL may have what appears to be a strong case. Premature to pick the winner before seeing the Met’s case. I doubt there is an outcome where the audience wins.

          2. Mark says:

            @Bill – hypothetically, the Met might have a (legal) leg to stand on (we’ll wait for the reply and the counter-claims, if any), but Levine has great lawyers and what appears to be a good case.
            The courts really don’t like to read extra provisions into non-vague contracts (although it is theoretically possible).
            Besides, I suspect the Met was hoping that he wouldn’t fight back in this ridiculously surreal atmosphere we have now.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Why all the bias and hatred against Levine? Whose toes did he step on? He was the Met. Are there any commenters here venting their envy and bitterness due to the fact that it was Levine who became the conductor at the Met, and not them?

    1. V.Lind says:

      If he sexually abused people, or used his power to affect careers based upon sexual submission, or did any of the things of which he has been accused and that the Met’s investigation appears to have found substantiated sufficiently to sever ties with him, he did rather more than step on toes.

      The life of a young boy is rather more important than ANY opera, however well conducted. For God’s sake, have some humanity and get your priorities straight. Like Mark above saying that if the music is good nothing else matters… what a warped view of life. PEOPLE matter.

    2. Stuart says:

      You have not been paying attention. I have loved countless Levine performances and recordings over the years, but the fact is that he abused his position and damaged the reputation of his employer and for that he was dismissed. No amount of good conducting can offset his bad conduct in these matters. Whatever Levine seeks from his lawsuit, his reputation is in tatters and it was self inflicted. The Board and Gelb have their own issues with who knew what when, but Levine is at the heart of his own downfall. It is sad, but no amount of legal smoke and mirrors and finger pointing can undo his unprofessional behaviour in the past.

  20. Sixtus says:

    If only Levine had diddled Stormy Daniels (or vice versa). We’d have the greatest trial since Aeschylus’ Oresteia. I’d even subscribe to cable tv to watch that.

  21. carson says:

    To Mark: Your appalling slur “sitcom homo” has no place here. It’s disgusting and nauseating. I only see a man who is comfortable in his own skin. You think he is acting a part just because he is out and proud? Thank God for him! We have had enough of being led by a sick individual who is clearly ashamed of his true nature and therefore had to resort to young boys!

    1. Yes Addison says:

      Agreed. I think sometimes Mark just says whatever he expects will rile people up, and the internet has never had a shortage of those types. But “sitcom homo” is excessively nasty, and “looks funny” coming from a Levine fan is rather strange. However people feel about his conducting, I think most would credit Nézet-Séguin with being in good shape and having a handsome face.

      I’m not sure Levine is ashamed of his true nature, though. I don’t think he’s ever come to grips with it enough to be ashamed or not. He’s the Michael Jackson of classical music. The body has aged and deteriorated, but the mind is still that of the gifted adolescent. That includes the level of emotional maturity.

      1. Sharon says:

        Seems to me that giving up the Levinite acolytes in his early to mid thirties and the young men, which appears to have been in his fifties, may indicate a gain in maturity.
        Furthermore, in early interviews he pridefully said things like he was responsible for saving opera in America. In later interviews he was more humble, consistently stating that he would not be where he was without various teachers, mentors, and some lucky breaks.
        Admittedly, there may have been some coaching by public relations people but even so; they were not present at the interviews. He even seemed grateful and felt fortunate that he was allowed to return, in spite of scheduling inconveniences, after a two year hiatus, not stating that it was his right. Seems like an increase in maturity to me.

  22. Save the MET says:

    This situation has been exacerbated by Gelb, who as a manager is a complete idiot. Always has been, at CAMI, at Sony he was thought of as Wilford’s lackey. He made bad choices there as well in subverting the Berlin Philharmonic and enriching Karajan and Wilford in doing so, turning down the Titanic soundtrack and when forced issuing it and taking credit, screwing up the Metropolitan Opera Guild, running a gift shop that does not produce anywhere near the income of the old gift shop, the Ring fiasco which nearly bankrupted the MET, one can continue on. Levine’s proclivities and actions have been well known for years. He even had a long used nickname behind his back, the “kindershtupper”. The Metropolitan Opera Board has known about this for years and allowed him to continue. Gelb works at the pleasure of Anne Ziff who is the Metropolitan Operas largest donor at the moment and also the chair of the Board. The New York Times labelled him the most powerful man in opera, no, like a groundhog, he’s afraid of his own shadow. He only keeps that job as long as he can continue to sucker Ziff. At this point, as there is no morals clause and an existing contract, the opera will be forced to pay Levine something. Once that is done, the General Manager/Artistic Director job should be vacated and a search begun for two individuals, one to run the business end and a seasoned professional to run the artistic side of the house and I would make them parity jobs, both reporting to the Board. Ann Ziff should also be asked to step down as chairperson and a new one elected. This drama needs to end quickly, or the company will be tanked for years.


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