Back

James Levine is wiped off Met Opera Radio

April 28, 2018 by norman lebrecht

106 comments.


We hear that the 24×7 “Met Opera Radio” channel on the North American Sirius XM satellite network has removed all recordings conducted by James Levine.

This means the 40 years of broadcasts while Levine was music director has been silenced.

The Levine operas have been replaced with full-length broadcast recordings from the 1930s, 1940s, and especially 1950s with often dubious technical quality despite great singers.

Now everyone knows that Levine and the Met are only speaking through lawyers these day, but this vindictive editing of institutional history is reminiscent of Stalin at his worst, when Trotsky and other undesirables were whited out of party pictures.

The radio channel is emasculated so Peter Gelb can sleep easy at night.

Ridiculous.

 

 


Comments (106)

  1. Caravaggio says:

    Yes, Gelb is a ridiculous person with an increasingly failing managerial acumen. Not only did he and his board -and not just they- cuddled and protected the Levine abuses until they could no longer but, more currently, Gelb blatantly indulged Anna Netrebko by pulling the carpet from under the live broadcast of her first night Tosca. Turns out she and hubby didn’t do better the second time around, as we all heard a couple of nights ago. As for the Levine blacklisting from Sirius, it is equally ridiculous. Support the man or not, it is up to any individual to decide whether to pay him a listen or not. Bottom up, not top down.

    1. Seb says:

      What is your problem with Netrebko? You seem to use every opportunity to slam her even when, as with this issue, she is entirely irrelevant to the matter in hand. I haven’t heard her Tosca but everyone I know seems to have enjoyed it

      1. Caravaggio says:

        Not at all irrelevant to the matter. I brought up Gelb’s indulgence of her as a present day example of managerial acumen in decline. (Or voice in decline – take your pick).

      2. Patrick C Byrne says:

        I didn’t enjoy the Russian’s Tosca, and certainly not her husband.

    2. Caravaggio says:

      Make that coddled

    3. Nick2 says:

      . . . increasingly failing acumen? I’d have thought it was perfectly clear he never had this in the first place.

  2. MacroV says:

    I have to agree with you here. The MET of the last 40 years IS Levine. I don’t have a problem with taking his name off – as the CBC did with Dutoit – but he was only the conductor; this is wiping away everyone else involved in those performances.

    1. ZZMike says:

      “Only the conductor”? True, there were some assorted singers, costumers, set directors, musicians &c, but the Conductor is the guy who pulls everything together, during rehearsals and at opening night.

    2. Frank Archer says:

      I agree completely. He conducted, yes, but the many singers and the chorus and world-class orchestra should be heard and their artistry preserved. All that is said, after all, is that the performance was conducted by Levine, which is true. Anthony Tommasini wrote well about discarding his Levine recordings. He won’t and I won’t either, because if we go down that road we’d all have a dumpster full of Wagner. Levine is through and that is as it should be, but he did good work when he wasn’t reprehensible.

    3. Dr F. Mark Carter says:

      I think it probably is Sirius that pulled the plug on Levine. Levine’s performances are still on Met Player. The quality is much better then Sirius which is awful. Also you can watch lots of opera in HD with good sound now. The sound of Met player has improved a lot, not as good as a BD but getting close.

      I hate to admit it, but I actually prefer opera in my AV room to the opera house. I find a get a much higher level of involvement than in the opera house.

      However I’m lucky as I know how to build a first class AV room with excellent HD picture and the sound as near to live as makes no difference, actually better then in most seats in the opera house.

  3. Ben says:

    Does every decision made have to come with a comparison to Hitler or Stalin? As far as I’m aware, Levine hasn’t been arrested, sent to a gulag, or been shot. Can we tone down the hyperbole?

    1. Bruce says:

      NO! There can never be enough hyperbole!

    2. Patrick Gillot says:

      he has not been arrested or shot because he did not commit any crime. To suppress the existence of a politician or an Artist is pure undiluted Stalisnism .

      1. V.Lind says:

        Maybe we should stick to Orwell — the unperson. Does Ben not know that when Nureyev and Baryshnikov, and no doubt others along the way, defected from the Soviet Union, the Mariinsky Theatre removed every photo of them or reference to them and everyone was forbidden to mention their names? It is this sort of thing that NL was alluding to — it is not, Levine who was being compared, any more than it was the dancers who ran.

    3. Scotty says:

      People who try to suppress comparisons to Stalin are like Hitler!

      1. Emil Chudnovsky says:

        I think Godwin’s Law just imploded.

  4. Joel stein says:

    This is a crazy decision by the MET-Levine conducted many, if not most of the new productions over the past 40 years- equally as important they are wiping out the performances by many singers-does anyone know if the MET video service will still be showing Levine videos?

  5. collin says:

    No history of the Met could be told without Levine.

    Any history of the Met could be told without Gelb.

    Gelb is vindictive and petty in a way only an insecure bureaucrat could be. He may have the upper hand so long he is in his post at the Met. History will be the ultimate arbiter.

    History, in the long term when the current fog has dissipated, will accord Levine his rightful place in it.

    1. Henning says:

      Can’t agree more. Under Levine the Met was really a great opera house more than at present time were one mediocre performance follows the other!!

    2. Henning says:

      Under Levine the Met was really a great opera house more than at present time were one mediocre performance follows the other!! To sanction all the great singers of that period would be a disgrace.

  6. Marcus says:

    This is development is not new, Sirius XM Radio has not played hardly any Levine led broadcasts since December 2017. They did air a Siegfried broadcast and one other opera led by Levine that I can’t recall but these seemed to be overlooked by Sirius it seems.
    At any rate I think the blame for all of this mess lays squarely at Levine’s feet.
    He was a sexual predator and harasser for decades. His repugnant behavior has landed him where he is now, even if it took decades to do so. Gelb inherited the Levine mess and he did the best he could given the situation.
    The Met doesn’t need Levine at all. He was a mediocre, routine conductor with no particular artistic insight or vision.
    He was there for far, far too long.
    As for Sirius XM Radio, there are many broadcasts they can play that don’t have Levine as conductor.
    I would gladly take conductors such as Leinsdorf, Karajan, Schippers, Stiedry, Mackerras, Cleva, Rudel,etc. over Levine
    Yes, history will be the ultimate arbiter, and it is already being written.
    Levine is out of the Met once and for all.
    I am doing my happy dance…….

    1. anon says:

      I do my happy dance everyday that the Nazi card-carrying party member Karajan is out of the Berlin Philharmonic once and for all.

      What? My doing my happy dance has no effect on Karajan’s place in history? Damn it!

    2. Seb says:

      At last. Someone talking some sense.

      1. Seb says:

        Not re the Karajan happy dance, obv

    3. Mark says:

      I guess Bernstein (who, when asked what younger conductors he admired the most, said “Carlos and Jimmy”) and Karajan (who wanted Levine to succeed him at the BPO) didn’t have your unique ear and understanding of music. We are so happy to have a Marcus here, they are exceedingly rare and precious …

    4. PJG Shaw says:

      Well said!

    5. Yes Addison says:

      I never thought I’d see the dominant demographic of Slipped Disc complaining about getting to hear more of the great singing of the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s than that of the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and ’00s.

      Anyway, they have broadcasts going back 80 years; so what if they work around him? He hardly conducted every broadcast in his time, so it’s not as if it rules out everything from 1971 to the present.

    6. alm says:

      So what did Norman Lebrecht know and when did he know it? In his book on conductors he appears to be describing James Levine. Or is there someone else we should know about?

    7. Robert Lombardo says:

      yes Levine is out of the Met and now look at what we have!

  7. Bogda says:

    In the age of streaming services does anyone really care about radio broadcast?

    1. Sixtus says:

      The MET satellite feed is streamed online via Sirius. I thank Gelb for making all those recordings I made off the web when I was a paying Sirius subscriber all the more valuable. Likewise with the CD copies i made of the 40 year commemorative box set of Levine performances. I hope the DVDs remain available at least until they are sold out. The Ring and other Wagner performances are very important documents of traditional staging.

      1. Sixtus says:

        PS: Other important Levine-MET DVDs include both Berg operas, both the Nilsson and Behrens performances of Elektra and the Rosenkavalier with Troyanos in the title role. There might be some Italian repertory he did that comes up to these levels as well.

        1. Yes Addison says:

          I have all of those, but I wouldn’t rank any of them very high with regard to what is available for those operas. The Lulu might have been a contender if Stratas hadn’t had to withdraw from the telecast.

  8. Patrick says:

    Just because you know something terrible about a conductor, doesn’t mean you should ban the performances of everyone who worked with him. I am a SirriusXM subscriber. The ancient broadcasts are historically interesting but not what I like to hear during my commute. Bring back the Levine recordings.

    Shall we ban Richard Strauss next? Oh, god, no….

    1. Galtier Made says:

      And Furtwangler, and Bernstein who was far worse than Levine but was lucky to kick the bucket before our time.

  9. Patrick Gillot says:

    we are in complete Stalinism . I am going to cut the Met completely from any buying and any visit.

  10. Pol says:

    Yes, they’ve shifted to playing mostly very old recording last December. I prefer to listen to my operas with better technical quality. So, I dropped the SiriusXM three months ago in response. Getting my opera fix in other ways.
    (The only other channel I was listening to was Symphony Hall. One channel was not enough to justify the subscription price. Have had the subscription since 2011)

  11. Robert Holmén says:

    Unfair for all the other artists who were involved in those recordings. They should just announce the conductor as “Alan Smithee” and leave everyone else in place

  12. Kyle R, Esq. says:

    Levine has been accused, but not charged, tried, found guilty or sentenced. It’s all hearsay, innuendo, speculation and gossip. And even if he is guilty it in no way effects his astonishing legacy. This is wrong. His recordings should be played and his name announced. If he’s no angel, he’s not alone. There have been many, many male conductors with questionable behavior whose recordings and work we still value and cherish. And if Levine is someday brought to court, found guilty as charged then yes, he should be punished in accordance with the law. But it still won’t erase his enormous contributions to music.

    1. Galtier Made says:

      Very well said. Bernstein was a great abuser but escaped accusation and being dragged through the mud. But of course anyone familiar with the musical world would just cringe. What about Toscanini and Nerva Nelli, his lover who he had put above many, Furtwangler, Strauss, Karajan, all the Nazis. This is just destroying American musical legacy, but didn’t we just destroyed politically incorrect monuments? Appalling.

  13. John Stassi says:

    I just noticed I no longer get the name of the singer when they play individual tracks when I am on Sirius met opera in the car. Is that something new?

  14. hustlefan says:

    Levine’s performances are available in the Met opera shop and on their streaming platform Met Opera on Demand. This sounds like a decision by SiriusXM only and not a decision by Peter Gelb or the Met.

    1. Tristan says:

      Doubtful. Staffing of the SiriusXM channel is entirely by people on the Met payroll: https://www.metopera.org/About/Who-We-Are/Administration/

      And “MetOpera Radio” on SiriusXM is a co-production with artistic decisions firmly in the hands of the Met.

  15. Hilary says:

    “The Levine Operas”
    Unwittingly, this is the nub of the problem.
    Putting conductors on this kind of pedestal is ridiculous and potentially gives them a ridiculous sense of entitlement., and being above the law.

  16. Stuart says:

    As others have commented, this is not new news. Sirius/XM has broadcast few Levine recordings for the better part of a year. The station was never a Levine-only resource anyway. The Levine recordings are not being “replaced”, just not played. There has always been plenty of material for the station to play from the 80 years of back catalogue. I have found little “dubious technical quality” from this source, with recordings all the way back to the 1930’s. Levine conducted a lot of Verdi and Wagner during his tenure, but he was not alone in that at the Met. And as to those older years, it would be hard to find Verdi and Wagner performances during the Levine years that equal the following:

    1937 Siegfried Bodanzky
    1939 Boccanegra Panizza
    1940 Walkure Leinsdorf
    1940 Ballo Panizza
    1940 Otello Panizza
    1941 Tannhauser Leinsdorf
    1945 Rigoletto Sodero
    1950 Dutchman Reiner
    1956 Ernani Mitropolous

    Most available on Pristine or Immortal Performances in excellent sound.

    1. Hilary says:

      but there’s no Moses und Aaron on that list. A Levine favourite.
      It’s not only about the questionable Levine, it’s also about John Tomlinson and Philip Langridge.

    2. Tristan says:

      Sure, there are memorable historic recordings. But in the U.S., “MetOpera Radio” was, until recently, a lively, contemporary 24×7 opera channel. It now is anything but: a cabinet of historical curiosities. And the list of great singers from the last 40 years who are now caught in the pogrom is very long.

      1. Bill says:

        Great singers, but heard only at the Met?

  17. Mark says:

    This is pure Bolshevism – the Russians routinely banned the broadcast of (and frequently also destroyed) the recordings of the artists who were suspected of being disloyal to the Commie-land. Gennady Rozhdestvesky tells how the Soviet Ministry of Culture ordered that the faces of the Jewish musicians who applied to emigrate be cut from the filmed performances of his orchestra. That couldn’t be accomplished without cutting a portion of the soundtrack as well, so the films were destroyed.

    Also, I wish people understood that “sexual predator” or “harsser” are legal terms defined in criminal laws, and as such, only have meaning in the case of a finding of fact having been made by impartial adjudicator (i.e. a jury and/or a judge).
    Throwing such words around at the drop of a hat only renders them meaningless.

    1. Greg Hlatky says:

      Levine should receive the same presumption of innocence given to a male undergraduate hauled before a sexual-asault Star Chamber at an American University.

      1. Mark says:

        Thankfully, this idiotic Department of Education “Dear Colleague” letter has been withdrawn

    2. Bill says:

      That a term has a specific meaning in a legal context does not establish an exclusive claim on its use any more than saying a crescendo can only refer to music.

      1. Mark says:

        Terms of art unmoored from their proper meaning are usually only used as metaphors.
        Otherwise, such words would be rendered meaningless.

        You can describe your ever-increasing success in business as a crescendo, but you if ask for a sandwich with a crescendo on the side at your local deli, you’ll be referred to the nearest psychiatrist.

        If one describes somebody’s actual behavior using terms from criminal statutes, such as murder, embezzlement or rape, one would be liable for defamation.

  18. Saul Davis says:

    This is suspiciously like “pinkwashing,” removing all evidence of Levine because he is gay, as much as his being merely accused of improper conduct. It is frankly outrageous. Have they also removed all recordings of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss for being anti-Semitic and Nazi collaborators?

  19. laurie says:

    Did they also take Levine conducted performances off MetPlayer subscription service? I don’t have it so I don’t know.

    I would assume that wholesale removal of this content would be grounds to invalidate any subscription but I don’t know. Mark?

    1. Mark says:

      Just checked the Met on Demand – the Levine videos are still there. They’ll have very little to show without them, and this service will loose most of its customers …

  20. La Verita says:

    One need look no further than the upcoming Met Orchestra concerts at Carnegie Hall to note the Met’s hypocrisy — as one of those concerts will be conducted by a predator just as notorious as Levine (if not more so).

    1. Lucy says:

      What the hell are you talking about? If you can’t tell which one of the three it is then shut up.

  21. Rgiarola says:

    When the issue is about a matter that hit directly in the skin, everyone chase the pivot person. Like it’s happens with Levine and Dutoit.

    In the case of Dudamel, a matter that takes the blood of other cultures. The botton line is that the same ones here in this forum asking for Levine/Dutoit head, i can identify that most of then are same ones defending strongly The messiah.

    Please good help me of hypocrisy…

  22. Franz Fischer says:

    Now, do you have to state on your bio and resume that you never performed when Levine conducted?

  23. Andrea Penna says:

    I guess that dozens of chorus and orchestra professionals and people as NORMAN SCOTTO DOMINGO PAVAROTTI NILSSON VERRETT VICKERS RYSANEK RESNIK PRICE MILNES RAMEY HEPPNER FLEMING HORNE TERFEL LUDWIG STUDER MORRIS MILLO BUMBRY and many more have to be punished as well for Levine’s supposed faults, together with Verdi, Wagner, Donizetti, Mozart etc. This is simply appallingly stupid. So stupid.

  24. June says:

    I have been quietly lamenting this development on Sirius for months. For a while it was a nonstop Zinka Milanov festival (just gag me). All the best performances from recent decades have disappeared. I hope this chorus of protest will convince MetOperaRadio on Sirius that they should go back to broadcasting all those wonderful performances of recent decades. If they have to edit out the conducting credits from the Margaret Juntwait intros, we will all be fine with that.

  25. John Centenaro says:

    This is idiotic beyond belief. Levine was surely a predator, but everyone who has had even the slightest connection with the music business in New York has known about this for many years. As far back as the 1970s, when I was just an ordinary music student in NYC, I heard many stories about Levine from friends who worked at the Met, so it is impossible for me to believe me that nobody in any position of power had any idea of his history. Of course, this is just hypocrisy of the the most opportunistic and nauseating type. The real fact is that the Met conveniently ignored and swept under the carpet the unseemly details of Levine’s private life while he was making money – and great music – for them and for New York music lovers. But once it became public knowledge, the Met management suddenly was suddenly shocked! SHOCKED!! to learn that that their star conductor and music director of the past 40 years was a pedophile predator. Whatever his private failings, and they certainly were many, the fact remains that he was a pivotal force at the Met over the past 40 years and contributed immensely to the artistic growth of the company. His performances brought immense joy to countless thousands of music lovers and should continue to do so. Furtwanger and Karajan were Nazis, but do we ban their recordings? NO. Wagner was a notorious anti-Semite and a scumbag of the first order, but do we ban his music? NO? Mascagni was a fascist, Strauss was at least superficially involved with the Nazis, etc. etc. etc. Examples of great musicians whose personal lives were not what we would have liked them to have been could be multiplied indefinitely, but those inconvenient facts do not change the enormity of their accomplishments. I believe that Levine deserves to be treated in the same way as his many illustrious, though personally flawed, predecessors . BRING BACK THE LEVINE BROADCASTS!

    1. TMPARIS says:

      +1. I too was a music student in NY in the late 70s, heard the same stories from people at or close to the Met, and worked with a tenor years after who told me stories from first-hand experiences. And so what! So he was gay, a predator, etc. He will be tried and if convicted will pay his debt to society. Music history – and all history – are full of flawed people who also made large contributions to the world. And if we start whitewashing these lives, where do we draw the line, and who gets to draw it? Should we include philanderers? Composers who committed violent crimes with deadly weapons? Musicians who exploited sex workers? If so… Somebody had better start destroying the scores and recordings of Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven!

    2. Mark Bajkowski says:

      +1. BTW those inconsistent “instant solutions” which look good but which also create an unnecessary collateral damage while solving nothing seem to illustrate well how the world works today.

  26. Susan Hudek says:

    This is ridiculous..first a coverup then extreme gesture to coverup their coverup. Talk about cutting one’s nose off…can’t change what happened. The Met at their most ignorant

  27. Jonathan Dzik says:

    What next? Are they going to remove all Levine-conducted performances (both CDs and DVDs) from the Met Opera Shop?

  28. Sharon says:

    I believe that we are forgetting the elephant in the room here. What is the financial connection between the broadcasts and Levine?

    If he or his company Phramus are receiving any sort of residuals from the broadcasts and Sirius MetOpera radio is being staffed by people paid by the MET it may mean that the Met would be paying Levine something for each broadcast or some sort of a fee for playing on the radio the performances that he conducted.

    They probably do not have such a deal with most other conductors, living or dead. Levine’s contracts used to say that he had to be paid more than any other Met conductor; perhaps there was something about residuals as well that were not in the contracts of other conductors.

    If the Met board voted to fire Levine wouldn’t this apply to not paying residuals as well? Legally, could they “fire” Levine, not pay him the residuals, and still broadcast is performances? Mark?

    1. Mark says:

      That would depend on the contractual arrangement pertaining to the broadcasts. If the archives are the sole property of the Met, then there are no residuals. However, if the residuals are due, then, even if the Met’s termination of Levine’s contract is legally defensible (and I doubt it), they still have to pay him (and the singers) for each broadcast, as this matter would be the subject of a different contract.
      There might also be a musicians’ union rule(s) regulating this.

      1. Sharon says:

        Thanks. See below. Could there be some legal reason given that Levine is suing the Met, not to broadcast his performances?

        1. Mark says:

          It may also be that Levine’s production company supspended the licensing agreement and the radio channel is legally barred from broadcasting these performances. On the other hand, the Levine videos are still there on the Met on Demand (although these might be subject to a different legal arrangement)

          1. Sharon says:

            Thanks

  29. Daniel Shapiro says:

    Levine or no, I wish Sirilus XM would update and expand their catalogue of operas they play on Sirius XM. I don’t think there’s been a single addition in at least 3 years, as evidenced by the fact that every opera is announced by Margaret Juntwait, who died 3 years ago. The same opera performances, wonderful as they are, cycle through over and over every several months. I still wish, hope and pray that they find other performances to add, because there are so many treasures to be heard: eg the Carlos Kleiber performances, any opera by Mussorgsky, Bruno Walter’s Mozart, etc. I have tried to contact the Met through Sirius about this is, but no reply

    1. Stuart says:

      I’m not sure what the listenership of MetOpera Radio is on Sirius/XM, but it can’t be large. A resource like this is special to those of us committed to opera, but in the grand scheme of things, it is a very small niche of a niche. We can rant and rave but our voices don’t add up to a lot of marketing pull.

  30. Mark Tetreault says:

    I have no problem with this decision. There are plenty of MET recordings to play without Levine. People who still want to hear his recordings can find them on-line easily enough.

    1. Tristan says:

      Fine, if you’re a fan searching online for recordings. But would you pay $400 a year for a round-the-clock satellite radio service–until recently a showcase for the best operatic art of your lifetime (vs that of your grandfather)–when it turns into a cabinet of historical curiosities? Didn’t think so. So another experiment in growing modern opera audiences –using new distribution channels–fails.

      1. Mark Tetreault says:

        Yes, I will remain subscribed.

      2. Sharon says:

        I pay less than $200 a year for Sirius radio

        1. Tristan says:

          Yeah, they charge extra if you sign up to be able to stream the service online.

      3. Yes Addison says:

        Programs scheduled to air in the next seven days include (along with broadcasts from the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s), Frau ohne Schatten from 1989, Billy Budd from 1992, Zauberflöte from 1973, Cenerentola from 2000, and Tristan und Isolde from 2008. None conducted by Levine. Every one with distinguished singers.

        Which of these is from someone’s grandparents’ time, now?

        1. Tristan says:

          Lessee, 5 performances from 1973 up over 7 days, in a 24×7 service. The reality is that most of the broadcasts in the last 40 years were helmed by Levine, and are now expunged. The median age (listening to a 1966 recording now) of the remaining inventory therefore must be over 40 years, and the true median 60 plus. So mathematically definitely grandparent age, sorry.

  31. MomeRath says:

    I totally agree with all those who have condemned the Sirius XM deletions of Levine’s performances if they are based on the Met’s notions of “ethical” grounds, as opposed to financial, contractual or other legal grounds. I don’t put Furtwangler in the same category with von Karajan and Wagner but I agree that prohibiting the broadcasts of performers or composers based upon non-artistic reasons establishes a very dangerous precedent. In Levine’s case, it also penalizes all those artists during all those years who participated in his performances from being heard, and it penalizes us for not having the pleasure of hearing them. I don’t need Sirus FM to hear for the hundredth time the great archival recordings that Stuart referred to which are easily available on CD and I will likely cancel my Sirus XM subscriptions if the Met is surpressing these performances based upon their notions of political correctness, and I will do the same should the Met delete the Levine performances in their Met Opera on Demand offerings. The Met needs to officially state its position on this matter.

  32. Joel stein says:

    I believe this has more to do with Levine suing the MET than his alleged behavior.

    1. Sharon says:

      Bloggers here are saying that Levine’s recordings stopped in December while he did not sue the Met until March. However, his petition did state that he demanded through a lawyer to be reinstated while the investigation was ongoing so perhaps the Met was anticipating a lawsuit.
      Joel Stein makes a good point. Perhaps the reason is not ethical or financial but instead legal.

    2. Anson says:

      Bingo. This is all about the lawsuit.

      I’m not saying anyone has to agree with it, but at least acknowledge the Met’s perspective here: you fire a sexual predator, but still play some of his recordings on your radio station (likely providing him a royalty of some kind with each one), and then he has the gall to sue you for his termination, and you’re supposed to keep playing his music and paying him for it? No thanks.

      And those — including NL — comparing this to Stalin or other statists need a real reality (and history) check. A private institution deciding what it will and will not play on its radio station is in no way akin to the censoring, blacklisting, whitewashing, etc. of a repressive government. Anyone else is free to start the James Levine Radio Network. The Met isn’t required to play Levine any more than they are required to play any other recording in their catalog.

  33. FordBryan says:

    Please bring back the vine conducted recordings they were superb and sound and every other way and the artist were fantastic please please bring back those recordings

  34. William Taylor says:

    While we’re at it, hearing the late Margaret Juntwait announce the operas is getting to be ghoulish. She had a lovely voice, to be sure, but a reminder of mortality is not the best way to start Elixir of Love.

    1. Anson says:

      Agreed! Loved Margaret but at this point it’s getting bizarre.

  35. David Dunn says:

    Is it possible that Levine himself has withdrawn his performances from MET use? There were a few performances that were withheld for years because certain singers did not give their permission for rebroadcast or republishing.

  36. Maury D says:

    Comparing this to Stalinism and tossing around the word “pogrom” is just…so embarrassing, or should be.

  37. Mark Bajkowski says:

    Shockingly, lynchings were also done with a communal approval willingly overwriting the due process. Conductor, however fundamental is his involvement in creating music, cannot, shall not and may not overwrite contribution of hundreds of other people involved in creating a symphonic music recording. The level of pretention related to doing “justice” here is comparable to Levine’s own abuse of authority even if the impact of those acts may not be compared at all. Stripping his related honorariums only and suing him for of a bridge of contract and restitution (if included in the contract) would be a more just and sufficient alternative here.

  38. David Dunn says:

    The more I think about it, the less convinced I am that this is coming from the MET. Many have mentioned the lawsuit. I’m sure the question of who gets the royalties for replaying those broadcasts is an issue. It is one thing not to feature Levine’s work, but the performances are the work of so many important singers and instrumentalists, I doubt the MET wants to erase the work of Scotto, Ramey, Price, Domingo, Pavarotti, Sutherland, Morris, the MET Orchestra and Chorus…and the list goes on.

    I would likelier imagine that these performances are major points of negotiation between Levine and the MET, and *that* is what’s keeping them off the air for now. Also, 90% of them probably have (the late) Margaret Juntwait’s voice saying “a performance from 1980-something led by the MET’s beloved and longtime music director Maestro James Levine” and need to be re-edited before they can be re-broadcast.

  39. MomeRath says:

    I am coming around to believing that David Dunn’s comments make the most sense. Marcus above states that the Levine performances have been withheld from broadcast since December, 2017. On March 15, 2018, Mr Levine’s 2 very distinguished law firms filed their suit against the Met in New York State Supreme Court. Reviewing the complaint, which can be accessed online, the attorneys threw in every conceivable, and even every inconceivable, argument in support of their plea that the Court award Mr. Levine both compensatory and punitive damages. It is not conceivable that Mr. Levine was unaware of the fact that none of his performances were aired on Sirius XM for 2 and 1/2 months after the Met terminated their relationship with him. Given that he, and therefore his attorneys, must have known of this withholding, it is extraordinarily unlikely that Mr. Levine’s attorneys would have intentionally or unintentionally omitted claims of royalty losses and reputational damages arising from the withholding of such broadcasts, unless there was good cause. Reasonable inferences may include ongoing discussions over some provision in Mr. Levine’s contract pertaining to his royalty rights arising from not only the Sirius XM transmissions but also the HD live broadcasts to theaters and DVD’s made from them, CD recording royalties, the Saturday broadcast rights, documentaries and interviews that include him, PBS broadcasts etc, etc. The driving force could also be Mr. Levine’s withholding of consent as a bargaining tool or as a pay-back. Both the Met and Mr. Levine’s attorneys know what’s driving this. We can only continue to speculate until we hear from one of them.

  40. Steve Bowbrick says:

    This is a pretty shabby story, Norman. The NY Times investigation uncovered over 30 years of “sexually abusive and harassing conduct.” The Met’s own investigation “uncovered credible evidence that Mr. Levine engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct toward vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers, over whom Mr. Levine had authority” and was based on interviews with over 70 people. Presumably those people should just get over it – and maybe avoid the Met on SiriusXM? Leaving Levine’s ‘legacy’ intact, especially on a channel that’s actually owned by the institution in the shelter of which he’s said to have conducted the abuse, and where some of his victims may still find work – now that would be ridiculous (as well as hurtful, dismissive and disrespectful to the survivors). The fact that practically everyone in this comment thread seems to be happy to prioritise the integrity of the Met’s recorded repertoire over the well-being of an abuser’s victims is jaw-dropping.

    1. Tristan says:

      Cultural cleansing, which you’re advocating, is a slippery slope. If, as you suggest, we should accept the removal of artworks–recordings, or paintings (“Degenerate art” of 1938), or sculptures, or buildings or ancient temples (Palmyra in 2013)–from public view because “we” are offended by their creators (either individual or collective), then we’re assigning some breathtaking values to our opinions. Sure, “we” are appalled with what Levine did. But does that mean “we” should decide that no-one can hear the artworks of 40 years created by a company of artists called the Metropolitan Opera? Wow, that would be a terrible thing. Yet it has happened.

      So, Steve, before labeling a dialogue “shabby”, and declaring that OMG this subject is beyond discussion because it involves our taboos OMG, get beyond name-calling and think deeply about what is at stake here. Cultural cleansing is a terrible terrible idea, and yet it is happening in New York in 2018. At the Met. (And you think it’s a good idea, apparently. I gòt some degenerate art for you to burn btw, it’s at a place called MOMA. Look for “Picasso” or “Klee” on the nameplate). Serious issue, worthy of reflection. That’s why all these people are posting thoughtfully (mostly thoughtfully, thanks, gang) about this subject.

      1. ZZMike says:

        “Cultural cleansing” is both a bad idea and a horrible euphemism. With Wagner – and a host of Hollywood types – there should be a distinction between the man and his art (though I do make an exception for Woody Allen). Or maybe it’s the case that only time can erase the connection.

        But still, he was one fine heck of an opera conductor. We’ll just have to buy the CDs (if they’re still there (they are, some CD, some DVD, including the complete Ring cycle, Brahms symphonies &c)

      2. Steve Bowbrick says:

        No question of ‘cultural cleansing’, Tristan (why use that language? What about my comment suggested such a loaded, derogatory term?). You’ll still be able to buy Levine recordings everywhere, I’m quite sure. I don’t know enough about the Met or their likely deal with SiriusXM to answer your more specific points, but the idea that the Met itself, having disciplined a staff member for abusing dozens of people (including other staff members) should be required for reasons of completeness to continue to provide access to his work on their own radio/streaming services is definitely shabby and hurtful, not to say a perfectly dreadful message to employees, performers and partners…

        1. Steve Bowbrick says:

          (the ‘more specific points’ I mention in my reply are actually from Sharon’s post and not Tristan’s. Sorry)

  41. Sharon says:

    Would witholding the Levine conducted broadcasts now help those who were victimized so many years before? I don’t know.

    What it WILL do is hurt anyone else involved in those performances who are receiving royalties or depend upon the publicity generated by the broadcasts which include all current Met employees. One of the main purposes of the broadcasts is to encourage audience attendance at the opera house itself, as well as donations, which will both decrease if people are exposed to mainly older broadcasts of poorer technical quality.

    It IS surprising that Levine’s petition did not mention the cancellation of the broadcasts, especially if he were receiving royalties from them, when in his petition he held the Met responsible even for the monetary loss for the cancellation of his book deal at Knopf (a famous book publisher).

    It may well be that Levine or his lawyers themselves cancelled the licensing agreement. Or, if the Met cancelled the broadcasts unilaterally, that Levine’s lawyers decided to turn a lemon into lemonade and use the cancellation and the licensing of the broadcasts as part of the private negotiations, as opposed to the public posturing in the court petition.

  42. M Bykofsky says:

    The Met in the early seventies was becoming stodgy and fuddy- fuddy. Levine re-made it. At least he should be given that credit. Many of his endeavors were very good-at least, or better. I have heard some of the older productions(not on Sirrius) and the sound and some of these lauded productions are only fair.I have not been a great fan ofGelb and his often Euro-trash productions where the director may only know what he or she is thinking of-and it is often not creativity. The only thing Gelb has accomplished has been the HD theater performances.
    He may indulge Netrebko, but ask where the Caballesque Kaufmann is.
    Levine did what many others have-we think.
    But so far all that has happened w as s theMet fired him. Does anyone remember Fatty Arbuckle.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.