James Levine loses major claims against the Met

James Levine loses major claims against the Met


norman lebrecht

March 27, 2019

The disgraced conductor yesterday suffered a severe setback in court as New York Supreme Court Justice Andrea Masley dismissed all but one of his defamation claims.

The Met’s lawyer Bettina B. Plevan expressed delight. Levine’s lawyer, Edward J.M. Little, said he was encouraged by the judge’s decision to uphold one defamation claim. ‘The Met didn’t just fire him,’ said Little. ‘It defamed him on the way out after his 50 years of brilliant artistic genius that contributed greatly to what the Met became.’

The parties continue to contest a $5.8 million breach of contract suit.




  • Caravaggio says:

    Poor Levine. All of it of his own making. No public remorse, no public apology from him for what he has committed over a long time. But the Met management which includes its board and the GM are also at fault. All of them ought to be sacked for negligence, cover-up and looking the other way because it convenienced them.

    • Brettermeier says:

      “All of them ought to be sacked for negligence, cover-up and looking the other way because it convenienced them.”

      At least, an independent investigation would be in order.

    • Karl says:

      My understanding is that everyone involved was over the age of consent and there was no rule against conductors having sex with students at that time. The management also knew about it. So it’s understandable that Levine does not believe he has anything to apologize for.

  • Alexander says:

    in this case time is on the Met’s side. A good name is sooner lost than won, so who will care about his future performances (sic!) when his good name is lost. Money is really nothing here.Nobody likes people who cheat others.
    PS there were too many talks on Michael Jackson. Have never liked his music since the time of my childhood. Yes, it was exotic, unusual ( creative?) and original yet too much desperate hysteria to my ears – the time gave the answer to his inner motive. Sic transit gloria mundi ….

  • Eric Garland says:

    Well it looks like this lawsuit will soon come to an end in the Met’s favor, as it should. I am quite certain that we, the general public, will never know most of the details of this scandal, such as what the Met knew and when did they know it? The Met is better off without Levine.
    His legacy, such as it is, is forever tainted by his immoral behaviour.
    His tenure there was far too long and intrusive anyway.
    They are far better off with the dynamic new music director, Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
    What a joy it was recently to hear Verdi’s Falstaff at the Met without Levine’s dreadful conducting.
    The era of Maestro YNS has begun!!!!

    • Yes Addison says:

      Levine’s leaden conducting of the 2013 Falstaffs was the only real blot on an otherwise great show, and that was not even his nadir. Worse lay ahead in the next four years. Even with the allegations about his personal behavior to the side, his career became a caution against staying too long at the fair.

  • Jack says:

    I would expect Levine to win at least a settlement. This was not handled well by Met management.

  • Mark says:

    This isn’t such a great setback. It’s enogh for a single claim to proceed
    to trial to continue discovery and have wihneses give sworn testimonies, and that’s what Levine’s lawyers want. I wish Maestro Levine all the best.
    His mediocre successor isn’t worthy to shine his shoes …

  • Philippa Ballard says:

    Has JL been conducting anywhere this last year ? Dutoit, as mentioned on SD, has got a number of gigs – but nothing about Levine

  • Sharon says:

    Too bad there is a confidentiality agreement with regard to witnesses; I would love to know how the judge came to the conclusion to dismiss most of the defamation claims. (If indeed they were dismissed based on witness testimony; I am not sure if anyone has been deposed yet). Seems to me, just be reading the court transcripts that are public, that Levine has a weak defamation claim but a very strong breach of contract claim.
    I wonder if with regard to breach of contract claims if the award by law has to be limited to what Levine would have been owed had his contract been honored, or if there is some other limit either in statute or court precedent on breach of contract cases, Mark?
    In any event, this case, which according to the original court calendar should have been wrapped up by the end of March at the very latest, will still drag on a long time. What a shame.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Levine will have to show he is capable of carrying out his duties. The amount of damages will depend on him doing this. BUT, it seems to me the size of the damages aren’t really motivating Levine.

      Incidently, to get a case to trial means that there must be some grounds for believing Levine could conceivably win his case. This is an extremely low bar. He will be allowed to proceed with a poor case, but not one that is completely hopeless.