How the Met survives James Levine

The seismic shock of James Levine’s exposure as a male molester has triggered further ripples of speculation as to the future of the Metropolitan Opera.

The wildest flight of fantasy has come from the critic Justin Davidson who argues:

For decades, the Met was essentially the Levine Company. Its identity was intertwined with his. His taste in composers, his relationships with singers, his hires, orchestra, conducting style, and even, for a while, his eye for productions all shaped what happened onstage in seven performances a week. Divas remained loyal to the Met because they felt safe onstage so long as he was in the pit. Audiences burst into applause as soon as his corona of springy curls bobbed into the spotlight. Critics — and I include myself — lauded his leadership as well as his musicality. His cheery, seemingly eternal presence thrilled the board and helped keep the spigot of donations open.

I’m not sure the Met can survive Levine’s disgrace.

This is hyperbole gone bonkers. Levine was shuffled off to emeritus status 20 months ago and has been a waning influence for several ears. Peter Gelb has long urged to board to order his retirement and, while the board must consider the consequences of years of playing three monkeys to Levine rumours, none of the possible outcomes is powerful enough to turn out the lights at America’s premier opera house. Levine was just one man in a vast machine. The machine will continue without him.

The allegations – which Levine has called ‘unfounded’ without specifically refuting any of the four accusations or taking action against his accusers – will rumble on. They will deflect attention from the Met’s real problems and actually buy time for Gelb and the board to bask in a kindlier light as the incoming music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, starts to work his magic.

The real problems, though, will not go away. The Met is selling barely two-thirds of its seats. Some nights it is more than half empty. Gelb’s credit is running out. No new money is coming in.

These are the crises at the Met.

As for the Levine scandal, a widely-circulated petition for him to be reinstated at the Met has attracted fewer than five dozen signatures. Levine is history, for better or worse.

The Met must face the future.

share this

  • Been Here Before says:

    “The graveyards are full of indispensable men.” – Charles de Gaulle

  • Alexander says:

    all goes by and this too shall pass …. and it wasn’t me who said it first ;)…. how the Met survives? – somehow

  • Sanity says:

    The biggest problem that the Met has is the singing. Now Levine is gone, they need to fix this before anything else.

    The Met needs to stop pandering to faddish teaching in the conservatoires, based on the most spurious of pseudo-science and get back to teaching healthy, enduring vocal technique.

    What was taught previously had worked quite well for more than 150 years. It should never have been meddled with.

    • Save the MET says:

      Huh? That’s the only thing that is going well for them. The problem there is the leadership at the GM and the Board level and the crappy productions which have killed the box office. Secondly, showing Metropolitan Opera broadcasts in the New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania/Delaware/Washington DC and New England markets have further eroded their take from the house. Inane business and production decisions are killing them, not the singing. Lose Gelb and repair the damage.

      • AMetFan says:

        Precisely and bears repetition. Now, who exactly has made new productions and the HD broadcasts the hallmarks of his reign, despite the long and increasing evidence that they are precisely the reasons for the Met’s earned income problems?

      • Yes Addison says:

        So, which productions caused the drop in attendance every year between 2001 and 2005? You know, Volpe announced in December 2005 (his last end-of-year as GM) that he was slashing the budget because box office had fallen to 76% when they were budgeted for 80%. But don’t take my word for it.

        https://www.backstage.com/news/met-opera-slashing-budget/

        • AMetFan says:

          Just wait for the comencement of the Met labor negotiations next year. The unions will trot out and leak all of these statistics. Trust me.

    • Mr. Schwa says:

      Great post!! And how long will patrons continue to pay overpriced tickets for ‘young American singers’ , euphemism for not-yet-ready talent that saves the Met money on fees?? Who cares about Lindemann artists?? The ones who have made it would have made careers without it. Ridiculous, unnecessary program, a big ego trip for Levine when he founded it. But the main problem?? Peter Gelb, he is an ignorant fraud. If one refers to an aria by name, he doesn’t even know what it is. He doesn’t know the tessitura or high/low notes in the aria when people discuss it regarding an auditioning singer. The Met has lost so much prestige. And, with all respects to Nezet-Seguin, they now have s music director who will essentially be conducting almost all of his repertoire for the first time. Stay home and listen to good CDs.

      • Yes Addison says:

        How much of Levine’s repertoire did he conduct at the Met for the first time? Not all of it, perhaps, but a great deal. He was 12 years younger in 1976 than YNS will be in 2020.

        • Mr. Schwa says:

          You are spot on. But the difference is, Levine is an odd super-talent that almost never comes along, ever: he had the ability to conduct the rep with savvy that was beyond his years. Y N-S is talented, but not in Levine’s class. Levine asked for a Wozzeck full score for his 11th birthday. He still made mistakes (got lost several times in Salome, the orchestra always knows these things, the public can’t tell the difference).

          • Mark says:

            Thank you, Mr. Schwa, I agree with every word you said re: YNS v. Levine. Jim is phenomenal (even in his present health condition, I’ve spoken to a few Met musicians who told me that he still inspires them in a unique way). YNS is a very good conductor, but not a great one.

      • Ellivin says:

        WHat s scandal
        Levine number one
        Peter gèlb à liar not ignorant
        Since 1970 I new from my friend French Danielle coaching vous singers for their French singing (she is dead ) so I can speak up that Levine was molesting young boys
        But everybody close their eyes and ears in order to let the show goes on
        Of course we all will miss him but nobody was interested to télé him to a doctor
        Shame on everybody involved including his driver

        • Mr. Schwa says:

          Danielle Valin was wonderful. When did she pass away?? I remember observing her work with the cast of Faust in a the 70s under Georges Pretre (pardon, pas d’accent circonflexe ici!!). A quiet, kind and confident manner and great results.

    • Delilah says:

      Precisely.. well said. Bravo!!! Or Brava ☺

    • JT says:

      I could not agree MORE! The MET is a mess in terms of its quality of productions, singing, etc. The singing should come FIRST! The visual aspect, second. Mr. Gelb has ruined its reputation of being a world famous opera house offering the best. The stories of Mr. Levine’s abusive behavior is widely known throughout the classical singing world. When I came to NY as a young singer my voice teacher lamented her many woes of the decline of the Metropolitan Opera. Long gone are the days of great singers on its stage. Maybe now the board can finally come to the truth we all have known for many years.

  • Ungeheuer says:

    In some capacity but not in its entirety or as we know or knew it, the Metropolitan Opera will survive Levine, now a pariah there and everywhere else, and Gelb’s (and his board’s?) impending departure. What the institution may not survive is the size of the auditorium given the declining interest in the art form on USA shores. What it will decidedly not survive is the severe drought of important, charismatic and healthy voices and the artistic personalities as vessels of that tradition. In a sense it is really over, before the fat lady has sung.

    As for Gelb and the board, it could have been very different had they not waited for the NY Post and Times to publish the sexual abuse accusations against Levine before taking the necessary steps to protect their institution. After all, they sat on a police report for over a year’s time (!!!!!) and continued to engage Levine. No employer with minimum acumen would have acted (or rather, failed to act) so recklessly.

    • James Levister says:

      I agree that the first problem to solve is that of finding truly well trained charismatic vocal talent who have not suffered abusive trading which drains the individuality from the voice. As recently as the 60s and seventies voices were easily identifiable by timbre and manner of expression. And, the power behind the vocal expression was uncanny. We need the Met to fill the seats but real talent will go a long way to accomplish that.

      • Sanity says:

        You were able to identify individual singers then because they bladed the voice, and that means producing formants/partials. These both cut through the orchestra and give your brain a sonic map for the voice. In fact, the brain hears mainly the formants – and fills in much of the rest itself. Because your brain is doing this, you become involved in the singing – intellectually and emotionally. It’s why in the past most opera performances involved people suddenly crying out (to much susshing from others)!

      • JT says:

        Agree! The problem is that Bing knew great voices. He promoted great singing and the public identified opera singing with all the great singers of the past. Gelb has done the complete opposite. He has fed the American audiences the belief that his singers are great when he is actually more concerned with how they look. In truth, the audience mostly knows what is told to them in terms of REALLY great voices. Its the job of the General Director to deliver the best talent the world has to offer. There are still many GREAT voices and singers out there!!! Insisting on GREAT singing at the MET will only raise the accountability of voice teachers and coaches. Get back to teaching TRUE GREAT VOCAL TECHNIQUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Nik says:

      The size of the Met’s auditorium would be a problem in most European cities too.

  • anonanon says:

    “exposed as a male molester”

    Pray tell, what is a male molester? Aren’t all the molesters thus far named male molesters?

    Oh, I get it! He molested males instead of females.

    So are males greater victims of molestation than females?

    Are molesters of males worse than molesters of females?

    Oh, I get it! he was a gay molester.

    Are gay molesters worse than straight molesters?

    Are gay victims worse off than straight victims?

    Why label the molester? A molester is a molester.

    As the Jewish actor and comedian Larry David found out when he made a joke about the molesters (“Why do they have to be Jews”), labeling is a dangerous game to play.

    • Vivace23 says:

      Agreed — I noticed that odd descriptor too. He’s a molester, plain and simple. Any adjective required would be along the lines of “disgusting” or “horrifying,” not “male.”

    • harold braun says:

      Exposed?Not,yet.Accused,yes,but not proven.Let´s stick to the facts.

    • Jamesay says:

      PLease can we stop using the word “molester”. To molest is to bother someone. Sadly abuse survivors were more than bothered they were abused! In some cases their abuse wrecked their lives. Enough with the term “molester” ! It is incorrect and ameliorates the profundity of the act perpetrated by one person on another.

  • Save the MET says:

    Gelb’s credit ran out long ago, he’s now on fumes. It is high time to get a professional with a reputation in there to run the company and to split that job from artistic director. (The GM position should be a business function and fund raising function, only.
    The Artistic Director should run everything on the stage and in the pit and the job should be at the same level as the GM.) It was laughable at the time that they gave Gelb, a man with ZERO experience in opera other than as an usher the role and title “artistic director”. He’s completely bungled that function of his job, he doesn’t understand the audience a decade later. He’s a cement-head and doesn’t listen to anyone other than Wilford and Wilford is dead. The productions by and large have been from hunger, running long time subscribers from the roles. Face it, he’s only there because Wilford wished it so and Bev and Levine owed him a favor. Little loser Petey should be shown the door with all haste. Break that contract of this overpaid amateur if that’s what it takes, the business health of the Metropolitan Opera depends upon it.

  • Bruce says:

    “This is hyperbole gone bonkers.”

    That’s rich, coming from the guy who proclaimed the crumbling of the Met when both principal flutes accepted other jobs on the same day.

  • La Verita says:

    Oh yeah, and the Berlin Philharmonic will never survive Von Karajan, the New York Philharmonic won’t survive Bernstein, the Philadelphia Orchestra won’t survive Ormandy, the Chicago Symphony won’t survive Solti, etc.

  • Mark says:

    The article rehashes the same nonsense that was been bobbing in the news for the last week.

    1. The Lake Forest PD cleared Levine.
    2. The other accusations, unsuppprted by any evidence, describe no more than a young man’s folly during the wild 1960s.
    3. Levine sells more seats at the Met than any other conductor. It is doubtful whether Yannick [Devil-only-knows-how-to-pronounce-his-name-correctly] will have the same clout and the unique understanding of singers and singing that Levine does (even in his present health condition). On the basis of Yannick’s past work at the Met, I am not optimistic.
    4. Unless new (and credible) evidence of Levine misdeeds comes to light, the Met should let him continue his career for as long as he wishes.

    • Ungeheuer says:

      Worth repeating for the gazillion time:

      https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/09/opinion/sunday/congress-sexual-harassment-dowd.html

      Maureen Dowd succinctly describes the mindset that makes people like you defend the indefensible. Please understand once and for all that Levine has become a pariah and a liability, at the Metropolitan and elsewhere. All self-inflicted.

      • Mark says:

        Hey, Untermensch, thanks for the laugh. Maureen Dowd ? That perpetually irritated, lonely, sour-faced, long-nosed woman who hates men with a passion, for none take interest in her ? Do you really think I care what this NY Times cousin of Kathy Griffin has to say ?

    • norman lebrecht says:

      1 The police did not clear Levine. They decided not to prosecute.
      2 These are the 1960s, 70s and 80s. More cases have been detailed past 2000 in comments on Slipped Disc.
      3 No conductor sells more tickets than any other at the Met. It’s singers and shows that sell.

      • Mark says:

        The police announced, that even if the facts as alleged by the Indian fellow were correct, they are not actionable as no law in effect at the time was violated. This wasn’t even a situation when DA had any discretion whether to prosecute or not. Yes, he was cleared.

        The other charges against Levine pertain to the 60s (and perhaps early 70s) and represent consensual sexual relationships with students above the age of consent. Objectionable by modern standards, yes. But a very common occurrence in those days and not illegal in any way.

        Levine’s presence on the podium virtually guarantees a good box office. Sure, singers are the primary stars of opera. But NYC audiences love Levine, and know that, most of the time, the performances he leads are extraordinary. Most other conductors at the Met are non-entities.

        • Robert Holmén says:

          The police never said “cleared” and that’s not even a real legal term anyway.

          It is rhetorical sleight-of-hand to replace a police statement that they can’t pursue it with “cleared.”

          Logically, something like “cleared” would mean they obtained evidence to contradict the accuser’s claim, which they haven’t, other than Levine’s denial.

          • Mark says:

            Thank you for teaching me the law. I’ve been practicing law for years, so I don’t really need any lessons from you, old chap. The Lake Forest, IL authorities expressly said that nothing in the accuser’s statement, even if it were corroborated by evidence (it wasn’t), constituted a violation of the law in the State of Illinois. No crime has been committed, there is no evidence or witnesses, and therefore no probable cause. Only a bitter ex-lover’s sob story.

        • roger says:

          You don’t seem to get it and I think you never will – no matter how many times it’s pointed out to you. There is a different between what is legal and what is morally appropriate. Just because the requirements of the law are not met does not mean that the behavior – known to the entire world – is acceptable. It is not. Prosecutors always exercise discretion. They are not basing their decisions on the morality of the conduct in question.

          • Mark Henriksen says:

            But morality is not as universal as you paint it. So, it is a little tricky to base employment practices on it (like hiring and firing people). But breaking the law is something virtually everyone recognizes is a bad thing and every is subject to its consequences. That is one reason why many job applications ask if you have been convicted of a felony. At least half of the posters at this site are saying that the “molested” guys were old enough to “just say no”. Even if you don’t agree at all with that, you should at least recognize that there is a diversity of opinion regarding morality.

          • Mark says:

            Who cares about your moral notions ? Objective morality in codified in criminal statues. The rest is purely subjective.

      • Save the MET says:

        Norman, your point is well taken. Levine for many years blocked important conductors from conducting at the MET whilst he was Artistic Director, save Carlos Kleiber. It was only after he took the Boston job, that he was forced to let some of the great of the day, ie: the three M’s, Masur, Maazel and Muti conduct there. Greats like Busch, Karajan, Beecham, Mitropoulos, Monteux, Szell etc. all conducted there back in the day, some quite regularly.

        He’s not irreplaceable and frankly in his current condition, the orchestra has regularly talked about his problems keeping a beat. The MET will be fine without him, but it does need a senior management overhaul.

        • Observer says:

          Are there specific conductors whom Levine “blocked” from the Met? During his tenure as Music Director, we had Thielemann, Tennstedt, Muti, Maazel, Jurowski, Barenboim, Nelsons, Bychkov, Ozawa, Bicket, Robertson, Pappano, Auguin, Chung, Haitink, Runnicles, and of course Gergiev and Luisi.

          • Save the MET says:

            Look at when most of them made their debuts. It was after he took the Boston job and was removed as “Artistic Director” and left with the “Music Director” Title.

            Levine went to Boston in 2004:

            Baenboim – 2008
            Gergiev – 1994 (Like Ozawa, rare exception and was initially accomplished to get the Mariinsky tour as a Summer attraction.)
            Haitink – (one run of a few performances of Fidelio, never returned.)
            Jurowski – 1999 (Just starting his career, not well known at the time.)
            Maazel – 2008
            Muti -2010
            Ozawa – 1992
            Tennstedt – 1982-83, one performance 1986 (Like Haitink, Fidelio only, a few performances never returned.)
            Thielemann – 1993 (Just made his American debut, hardly well known at the time.)

            The rest of your list, the conductors are primarily opera conductors and or were just starting their careers at the time. They were not world beater conductors. My point is still well made, very few major international conductors with huge reputations at the time conducted at the MET until Levine went to Boston. The only exception seems to be for Haitink/Tennstedt Fidelio performances in the 1980’s, Kleiber who was not competition for Levine for symphony orchestra posts (He conducted when he felt like it and did not want to be attached.) , Ozawa for a run of Onegin’s and Gergiev, which was a trade for a tour. None of the big names with the exception of Kleiber and Gergiev ever returned. Case and point made. In other words, conductors who would sell seats were rarely allowed to conduct at the MET.

    • Stuart W Rogers says:

      Mark – I’m not sure you have contemplated how much the national mood has changed in the past year. Regardless of any of these points you have made, it is hard to imagine anyone is going to engage Levine to conduct for a major orchestra or in a major opera house. It is just not going to happen. He was fading away anyway (though I liked his recent Flute), so he should just disappear.

      • DAVID A MCKELLAR says:

        Reports of the death of The Met are greatly exaggerated.

        PS First opera seen at the Met: Samson in 1954 with Ramon Vinay and the incomparable R Stevens.

      • Yes Addison says:

        I can imagine the snickering if Levine conducted the upcoming Tosca, when the words appeared on the surtitles: “I pursue the thing I crave, sate myself and cast it aside, and seek new bait. God made diverse beauties as he made diverse wines, and of these
        God-like works I mean to taste my fill!” Well, he certainly would have matchless understanding of that.

        I’m completely in agreement with your points. I always thought he was overhyped, but he was a technically first-class conductor in his best years. Those ended more than a decade ago, long before the chorus director, the prompter, the concertmaster, and the orchestra’s collective intuition were having to work together to keep his performances from going off the rails, and adequacy was being passed off as triumph. Too much baggage (medical and now other). He’s done.

      • Mark says:

        Stuey, why don’t you disappear instead ?

    • The View from America says:

      1. The Lake Forest PD cleared Levine.

      (snigger)

  • Hilary says:

    “Fewer than five dozen signatories”
    112 I notice….not one of Beethoven’s better known opus numbers as it happens but a rather beautiful piece: “Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage” for chorus and orchestra.

  • Daniel NYC says:

    I have lived in NYC and have worked at the Met in the 1980s and remember the glory days of great singing which no longer exists. The departure of Levine is highly unfortunate given his years of service to the Met Opera and most importantly his expertise in opera. Despite this, the Met has been spiraling down since Peter Gelb has taken over as he has placed little interest in the musical aspect of opera and is more interested in productions and theatrical direction. Why is he wasting so much money on new productions that are costly only to replace those that are much better (i.e. Tales of Hoffman, Manon Lescaut, Don Carlo, etc). If we want to go to theatre we have Broadway down the road. Most people go to opera for the singing and music, not theater. As soon as Gelb is replaced and music takes its rightful place of primary importance at the Met, I hope the Met Opera will be restored to its past glory as musical institution not a theatrical wasteland. Get rid of Gelb ASAP before he does further destruction.

    • kaa12840 says:

      I think you summarized the problem of the MET perfectly. It is what all of us regular met goers think. When can we get rid of that incompetent guy brought in as a marketer and destroyed the marketing.

  • Cynical Bystander. says:

    I have asked before but will ask again. Which singers are not singing at the MET that are keeping the audience away? When I read blogs I am amazed at the long memories, and by definition, corresponding ages of those who look back to the golden age of singing which if it confirms anything only demonstrates that the advancing age of the audience is as much to do with the fall off, literally, of audiences as anything else.

    Hands up those who look back longingly to singers who have not graced a stage for decades, if indeed they have not already literally given up the ghost.

    I am far from young and have loved Opera for over 40 years but even when I was discovering it the cry was even then that the singers were not what they were. As I never heard anyone elses Golden Age singer I approach every performance with an open pair of ears. I pay my money and hope for the best.

    If audiences are not large enough to fill the number of seats at the MET it has as much to do with the fact that the place is an enormous barn as to who is on the stage or in the pit. If the MET is rarely full then which parts of the auditorium are less well populated? At the prices they charge I suspect it is not the cheaper seats but those that rival and in most cases exceed the premier houses in Europe where exactly the roster of singers and conductors are by and large the same. The difference is there are far less seats to fill at high prices in the Orchestra, Parterre, and Grand Tier of European houses than at the MET. 60% of the MET capacity equals full houses in Europe. The greatest singers in the world can do little about that, particularly when the audience is old enough and frail enough to look back to the days when it was not the case. “Ah, that performance in the old house when I first heard X and all the productions looked as if they had existed since the work’s first performance,how well I remember it. Pass me my earpiece and put the shellac on my gramaphone”

  • Jeffrey says:

    The Met will survive. The Met needed to get to a new task anyway. That task is to find the next generation of world class conductors and to properly vet them. Levine slipped under the radar. Lots of talent in the world.

  • Sharon says:

    It is interesting to note that Levine said that his accusers’ charges were “unfounded” not false or lies. Doesn’t unfounded just mean unprovable.? Considering the seriousness of the consequences for Levine why is he not threatening to sue anybody for libel or slander?
    Having said this I know that it would be relatively easy for Levine to reinvent himself as a composer, pianist or producer (since he has the money) or as a conductor in another country or maybe even back at the Met now that he is in a wheelchair if the Met can convince the donors and the grants makers that young people will be safe. After all, President Clinton was promptly reelected after the Monica Lewinsky scandal which had some of the same elements.
    I have been looking up Levine on the internet since this story broke and have discovered something interesting. In an early 1970s interview when he was in England he said he saw the production of Noel Coward’s “At Twilight” (there may be more to the title) three times. What was this play about? A woman confronting and threatening to expose a man about a gay affair that happened more than 30 years before!
    His profile on Sixty Minutes said that one of Levine’s favorite operas is Falstaff. What is this opera about? A man who is exposed and confronted for messing around sexually!
    I suspect that Levine on some semi conscious level knew that eventually he would be caught and punished in some way although he probably did not expect it to happen as it did.
    My big concern, as a psychiatric nurse, considering his statement about how he is devoting his life to the Met and teaching young people, is that he may become suicidal if he believes that his purpose in life has ended. Chronic pain can lead physiologically and psychologically to clinical depression and the specter of professional marginalization and stagnation may finish the job. Yes, Levine can reinvent himself as I said above, but people with clinical depression do not think rationally.
    Biographers now believe something similar happened to Maria Callas. She was facing chronic serious physical health problems, was marginalized as an opera singer, and had serious personal/relationship problems, such as being rejected by Onassis for whom she sacrificed her marriage and his as well as her superstar career. Her estranged husband wrote in his biography that she left what amounted to a suicide note for him.
    Prilojac, a theater director before he became a general in the Croatian Army, was very recently re convicted of crimes against humanity at the International Court in the Hague after he appealed. In front of everyone in the courtroom, after shouting that he rejected the verdict, he drank a lot of cyanide and died. (You can google this).
    For many people heavily involved in the arts life begins to imitate art. If the Met refuses to take Levine back (and I am ambivalent about this) he must be put on a suicide prevention watch.
    With regard to the Met itself, one way to deal with the too large a house problem is just to close certain sections of the auditorium. This is done at the Koch theater, City Center, and Broadway productions.
    I also agree that too much money is spent on set and production. :People who go to the opera want to listen to the singers and the orchestra, not see a large mechanical bird flying through the air
    Also the opera in HD series, while a way to show grantors that the Met is responsive to the general public and to provide arts education, probably discourages people in the New York City area from going to the Met. I know that it discourages me. When I can see a live broadcast with a view as good as a $300 seat for $25 in a cinema close to my home in the Bronx, what is the point of shlepping to the Met and sitting in family circle?
    Maybe someday someone will write an opera about this– a modern tragedy.

    • M2N2K says:

      You are wrong about President Clinton being “promptly reelected after the Monica Lewinsky scandal”. He was reelected in 1996 and the “scandal” happened in 1998 (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewinsky_scandal). He was not eligible for reelection after that.

    • Mark Henriksen says:

      Yeah, if you don’t have the bucks, a $25 movie seat is good alternative. If you have the bucks and are making such a statement then definitely, the wide screen and a bag of popcorn is for you.

    • Hilary says:

      I’d picked up on Falstaff but not the Noel Coward play before. Thanks for this insight!

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Are you saying he should be allowed to conduct at the Met and continue to “abuse boys” (allegedly) because otherwise he will feel “a bit upset”?

      • Sharon says:

        I believe that because of his age, physical limitations, emeritus status, and especially this scandal, he will no longer abuse boys or be involved in sexual harassment.
        I am not saying that Levine should be allowed continue conducting at the Met, I am ambivalent. First there is the donor and grant approval issue. In addition,the business as usual atmosphere of sexual harassment by the powerful in classical music will continue unless there are consequences and politically Levine might be the most appropriate person of whom to make an example.
        Nevertheless, he is a senior citizen in a wheelchair with numerous health problems and probably a lot of back pain. His physical problems will make him physiologically and psychologically prone to depression.
        Clinical depression is not just being “a little upset”. It is a physiological as well as emotional condition which is extremely uncomfortable and distorts ones’ thinking and outlook on life. Furthermore,Levine has rehearsed and conducted hundreds of performances where suicide was presented as the solution, indeed frequently the heroic solution, to deal with a current or anticipated punishment, scandal or bereavement. Levine is facing all three (the bereavement being the end of his career). As I mentioned earlier, for many heavily involved in the arts life begins to imitate art.
        I truly fear a suicide attempt by Levine and possibly Pai. Justice must be tempered with mercy

  • fred says:

    Get Thieleman as the main conductor with some talented assistants who could take over later or substitute for him.
    Get Netrebko and co, Kaufmann to sing more regularly at the Met.
    And bring some repertoire change though I guess a boheme on christmas or new year’s even will always sell..

    • Stuart W Rogers says:

      Oh please, not Thielemann

    • Saxon Broken says:

      No amount of money will get Kaufmann, he wants to be near his children.

    • Mr. Schwa says:

      Thielemann’s Naziism and his horrific personality, both professional and personal, will probably keep him out. It is no secret that many Jewish donors and board members are offended by this poor excuse for a human being. When he led Meistersinger at Lyric Opera of Chicago years ago, he joked that he was a ‘card-carrying’ member of the Nazi party, amusing himself by flashing a hand-made card proving his membership, and trashing the Allies for having bombed Dresden. Good conductor for sure, but a rude fat pig who gets turned on by upsetting singers, directors and musicians in the pit. Appoint him GMD at Buchenwald instead.

  • Edgar says:

    The future begins with teh departure of Mr. Gelb and the entire board. Otherwise, the Metdämmerung will continue unabated.

    • Eaglearts says:

      Why the board? They have given millions of $$$ to support the Met. What have you done for the arts?

      • Ungeheuer says:

        Because they are complicit, along with the GM, in protecting and covering up Levine. Recall they fired (oh sorry, merely suspended) him only once the accusations became public. Not just that but then Gelb announced the start of an “investigation”. Again, only after the story broke. But now we know they all sat on the Illinois police report for over a year, hush hush, and still engaged Levine. That is the definition of covering up dirty tracks. No reasonable employer would retain such an employee after receiving notice of a police filing on sexual misconduct by said employee. Get it?

      • AMetFan says:

        Believe it or not, a nonprofit board of directors has responsibilities other than doling out money. Depending on the level of board membership at the Met (which nowadays is tantamount to merely Patron membership; just the dollars are higher), there are governing and fiscal responsibilities. This is particularly true for the Met’s Managing Directors and Executive Commitee. If they refuse to exercise their responsibilities, they are culpable. This isn’t voluntary; there are laws governing the boards of nonprofits. The attorney state general does look at suspicous activity.

  • Nick says:

    “Gelb’s credit is running out.” Sorry! His credit ran out soon after he was hired! As he almost imperceptibly brought the Artistic Director role into his slippery hands, so the paying audiences began to disappear. And the Board remains 100% complicit in not only having backed a totally unqualified candidate at the outset but then continuing to back him after his manifest inadequacies in running any company became obvious.

    • jamesay says:

      AGreed! He’s a micro manager even getting into the production truck on day of HD transmissions and over ruling directors choices and changing shots and lighting. He knows very little about a lot

    • Dave T says:

      It’s amazing how many times, over how many years, one can read essentially the same comments from the same people.

  • Anon says:

    The problem with Peter Gelb is, that he is a visual man. He doesn’t understand how opera works, which is primarily a sonic artform. The emotions people want and make them come back as paying audience are mainly transferred through the sound of singing and playing. Gelb thinks the visual show matters most. Which is why he is not successful. He doesn’t understand opera for its most important emotional part.

    • Daniel NYC says:

      I completely agree as I’ve noted in my comment above. He doesn’t understand that the music emits the emotion of the opera not the staging. Let’s hope Gelb disappears soon. Wake up Metropolitan Opera Board of Directors !!! He’s destroying this great institution and you are all complicit.

  • William Osborne says:

    It’s true that Davidson’s conclusions are overdrawn in this case, but he writes a lot of good work. In many respects, its unfortunate that the Met will soon continue with business as usual instead of instigating major reforms. What should be an occasion for a major reevaluation of the classical music world, will simply become another part of the corruption it accepts.

  • Louis says:

    Why is the Metropolitan Opera filling up only 2/3 of its seats? One reason is that the old standards of the opera repertoire have been recycled to exhaustion and are mainly of interest to an aging and dwindling audience. The Levine era is over, in more ways than the one on the front page. In order to attract a new audience, the Met’s repertoire needs to be modernized, expanded, infused with more new works. Levine’s departure is a step in this much needed direction.

  • >