The case details that are spilling out on both sides by way of press releases are intentionally degrading.
The Met justifies sacking James Levine on the grounds that its former music director ‘used his reputation and position of power to prey upon and abuse artists’. It cites instances of shared masturbatory fantasies, forced kissing and other unwanted advances on young men.
Levine’s lawyers say in their filing that ‘Levine did not commit any acts of sexual misconduct against any individuals, much less the unnamed individuals referred to.’
The Met says it has suffered ‘significant reputational and economic harm as a result of the publicity associated with Levine’s misconduct’ and will continue to do so.
Of all the claims and counter-claims from either side, this statement rings truest.
The longer the wrangle over Levine’s dismissal drags on, the more the Met sheds in status and grandeur. This may be Levine’s legal strategy, calculating that he has not much left to lose.
But the big loser in this case is dignity – both the Met’s and Levine’s. Neither will be left with a mitigating figleaf.