Has the Met quietly resumed James Levine broadcasts?

Has the Met quietly resumed James Levine broadcasts?


norman lebrecht

June 19, 2018

We hear they are presently playing the 1996 Verdi Otello on Met Opera Radio.

Is this a climbdown?

Or a concession before the two sides meet next week before a judge?



  • Patrick Gillot says:

    Enough of the Levine witch hunt!

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Here it’s package bashing: Levine and the MET, and more indirectly Peter Gelb.

      Levine can only blame himself for his current pariah status, but I at Slipped Disc this is now becoming ritual bashing.

      • Sue says:

        I can hear those jack-boots tramping in the distance. This is where we are now; fall foul of the bien pensant and it’s all about total reputational destruction. Just like in the old soviet days. That doesn’t excuse sexual abuse – naturally – but we have the law for that.

        • Barry Guerrero says:

          I’m fine with them playing Levine recordings on the radio. I’m fine with anyone liking Levine’s work. All I ask of anybody is to not be self-delusional – or become an enabler – by saying dumb stuff like, “well, you know, those boys would have been gay anyway”. That’s not an argument. That’s not a defense.

          Unfortunately, three contradictory things COULD be truths, all at the same time: Levine is good musician; Levine is a nice person; Levine is a sexual predator. It happens, especially where there’s rank and privilege involved.

          • Mark says:

            What in devil’s name is a sexual predator ? If one is convicted in a court of law, then they can be guilty of rape (actual or statutory) or assault or harassment. But in any other case, if Levine (or some other fellow) likes young men and they were willing to oblige him, that’s just a social transaction. If he is a predator, so is every finance bro at a NYC bar flashing his expensive watch and loudly talking about his car, boat and house in the Hamptons. All of us use any advantage we have to get what we want (in this case, sex). Enough with this silly prudery !

          • william osborne says:

            There are professional standards that teachers, and the public figures of arts institutions, are to uphold. When they don’t they damage those institutions. In many cases, the institutions then have the right to sanction or dismiss them.

            And this is to say nothing of the moral issues of exploiting students when they are barely of legal age.

            Levine has already caused so much harm with his actions, and his legal proceedings are only compounding the problems.

          • Mark says:

            @WilliamOsborne Professional standards exist only to the extent they are documented somewhere. Did the Met have an employee handbook or any set of written rules of that sort in those days ? As far as the “moral issues” are concerned, morality is a a fickle and subjective beast.

          • Barry Guerrero says:

            Mark, truly, there’s a huge difference between your “finance bro” at a NYC bar, and an adult male who takes advantage of boys. I know some of the details of the story that the principal player from orchestra told me (and a friend). I won’t repeat that story because you’re right – guilt hasn’t been proven in a court of law. But this particular story involved an arrest, in addition to what can now be called a cover up. That’s as much as I’ll say. Rumor has it that there have been several arrests – meaning several different times. If true, that means that the Met organization has colluded in a cover up. But again, you’re right. If they can not go back and accurately piece together what transpired, then there is no guilt in the legal sense.

            None of this has anything to do with prudery. Most likely, there are registered sex offenders in your very neighborhood. Many of them are probably ‘nice guys’ on the surface. In California, at least, a female teacher can land herself in jail or prison for having sex with underage male students. It happens. Let’s not confuse your ‘pickup artist’ with predatory behavior towards non-adults.

          • Mark says:

            Barry, the crux of the matter if anyone was in fact underage. If Levine actually had any sort of sexual contact with a minor, that indeed is extremely serious. However, I sincerely doubt it – he is simply too smart for that.

            I’ve heard so many different versions of the arrest story to which you allude, that I sincerely doubt there is any truth to it. Suffice it to say that it is virtually impossible to make the arrest record fully disappear. There are too many people working in any precinct, and the arrest of a famous person would have become a sensational news item. Several prominent NYC crime reporters looked into these stories and concluded there was no “there” there.

            Any sane individual above the age of consent is presumed to be able to make an informed decision about their sexual behavior. The asymmetry in wealth/position/social status is simply immaterial – as I mentioned before, we all work with what we have.

            The laws criminalizing any sexual relationship between teachers/professors and students, as well as internal corporate rules mandating dsciplinary proceedings in such cases, are a relatively new development, and, as such, aren’t retroactive.

          • Barry Guerrero says:

            “the crux of the matter if anyone was in fact underage. If Levine actually had any sort of sexual contact with a minor, that indeed is extremely serious. However, I sincerely doubt it – he is simply too smart for that”

            As a matter of opinion, that’s a view I simply don’t share with you. I don’t think smart or dumb plays into this very much at all. I don’t think you understand the very nature and seriousness of pedophilia. It’s a disease, like alcoholism. Regardless, I’ll agree with you on this much: let’s wait and see what transpires.

            Just as you’re asking people not to roast Levine until all the facts are in (as much as they can be ascertained at this point), I’m asking people to not behave as enablers, simply because they like Levine as a musician and think he’s a nice person.

          • Mark says:

            One point – the psychiatric/legal definition of paedophilia is “sexual attraction to prepubescent children”. I don’t believe this has been alleged here.

          • anon says:

            Stop talking generalities and amorphous notions of morality, be specific, name names and state facts. Everytime an accuser comes forward, and not hide behind anonymity, and everytime that accuser states specific facts, the accusations fall apart.

            Innuendoes and finger wagging may get you far on this site, but in a court of law, even a civil court where the standard of proof is lower, and never mind in criminal court, there is nothing that can withstand the slightest scrutiny.

          • william osborne says:

            Yes, Mark, contracts for professors and artists in big performing organizations fairly often have clauses that stipulate that they cannot behave in a manner the brings the employer into disrepute — that they must behave with due regard for public conventions, and not behave in a manner that damages the image of the institution. These days, such clauses make sense.

            (Private universities often have regulations that forbid sexual relationships with students, but state schools usually don’t due to the First Ammendment’s stipulations regarding freedom of association.)

            If the Met and Levine had such a clause(s,) it would be for a jury to decide if they were broken. But it will not come to that. The Met will settle.

            It would be interesting to see what sort of contract Levine had with the house and what sort of clauses it included. There could also be clauses that require him to behave in a manner that does not break the trust the Met put in him, which I think the Met is asserting. A jury would decide what reasonable trust would be and what broke it.

            I find it interesting that Levine has regularly worked with the Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Bayreuth Festival, Salzburg Festival, Munich Philharmonic, and Boston Symphony, but that he was never asked back to Cleveland after his close relationship with them back in the early 70s when most of the alleged abuses took place. Why such a sudden break and permanent break? Did they know something? And if so, why didn’t they say anything? Would their silence be a form of complicity?

        • Anson says:

          Ah, yes, how unfair of me — how “jack booted” — to have developed a distaste of Levine following the revelations of his sexual abuse. Surely, Sue, it’s not merely “bien pensant” to think ill of a sexual predator? And surely, even if you think I’m wrong, I’m entitled to think and say what I like about Levine’s decades of misconduct?

          • M2N2K says:

            That’s an idea: let’s call him The Great Misconductor. Too bad there is no Salvador Dali around to make a portrait.

  • Zouzou says:

    Enough of the Levine witch hunt!

  • Caravaggio says:

    Smells of out of court settlement

  • Ms.Melody says:

    Not only have they played a glorious Levine, Domingo, Milo, Morris 1996 broadcast of Otello today,
    but there were praises heaped upon Levine by the late M.Jaintwait. I believe his control of the orchestra and musicality were referred to as “sublime” .Nobody thinks to edit these broadcasts, so you get Met memories by the late John del Carlo and an announcement that he is singing in the next season. For the angels in heaven, I am sure. I am very pleased that we will get to hear Levine’s performances and the great singers who worked with him. I loved the phrase: ” In Levine singers knew they had a friend”. Let the music speak for itself.

  • Marcus Clayton says:

    If this is about the Met Opera Radio channel on Sirius XM radio, the Otello they are currently running is from 1958, with Fausto Cleva conducting.
    I subscribe to Sirius XM radio, and I do not see any operas conducted by Levine on the schedule.
    Can anyone confirm a Levine led Otello was played earlier today?
    It was not on the schedule.

    • Ms.Melody says:

      I was in the car and saw and heard it. Definitely listed as Levine’s 1996 Otello with all the glowing commentary and praises. Deserved, I must add, but still about him who shall not be named.

  • Hanna Nahan says:

    Who gives a shit?

    • The View from America says:


    • Ms.Melody says:

      Those of us who love and want to hear great music and singing that has not been heard for months do

      • Yes Addison says:

        Ms. Melody, you really haven’t heard great singing and music on Sirius in months? It makes me wonder when you were tuning in.

        • Ms.Melody says:

          I tune in at all times. And yes, of course, I heard great singing and orchestra playing, BUT 40 years of broadcasts somehow went missing. The man may well be a predator and a contemptible human being,(allegations, not proven in court) but one should not press a delete button and erase a 40 year-old musical legacy. Otherwise, we should ban movies produced by Weinstein, most of the Renaissance paintings and sculpture, a number of classic books, etc.

          • Mike Schachter says:

            No-one seems to propose that von Karajan’s recordings should be removed merely because he was an enthusiastic Nazi, at least while that was good for his career. Schwarzkopf likewise. But hey, so unfashionable to dwell on these details.

          • Anson says:

            Of course the Met’s choice not to play Levine recordings is not in any sense a “ban,” but don’t let that stop you.

          • Saxon Broken says:

            Karajan was not an enthusiastic Nazi. It really is silly to claim he was.

    • Sue says:

      Eloquently expressed.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    Is it really very likely that James Levine’s most recent contract included a clause requiring Met Opera radio to contain some percentage of Levine-conducted operas?

  • Sharon says:

    The other possibility is that the person who actually sets up and plays the discs just made an error. This could especially be possible if the person was a Sirius, not a Met employee.

    There are no other Levine performances so far listed on the weekly schedule. We’ll see if other Levine performances are substituted for the in the operas for the performances in the schedule

  • Jack says:

    Welcome back, Jimmy!

  • Saxon Broken says:

    Mark writes: “Professional standards exist only to the extent they are documented somewhere. Did the Met have an employee handbook or any set of written rules of that sort in those days?”

    This is, of course, legal nonsense. As is the assertion that the Met has to show that there was a term in the contract which Levine has specifically violated (e.g. if the contract didn’t prohibit Levine from “buggering boys” then he is allowed to do so).

    As an employee, Levine can’t act in a way which “embarrasses or discredits the Met”; the question arises as to what this actually amounts to. But it is certainly more than the minimum specifically stated in the contract. [On the other hand, Mark is right that the Met can’t fire an employee just because they personally do not approve of the employee’s behaviour.]