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.