Zubin Mehta: James Levine was ruined by US media

The veteran conductor, 84, opening tonight at La Scala, has been sharing some retro views with Corriere della Serra.

Among other things:

‘Leave the blacklists to American puritanism. Levine has been ruined by US media. Domingo had to leave Los Angeles Opera, which was nothing before he came. And all because of complaints from failed artists after 30 years . That sounds like revenge.’

 

Some kind of mutual defence union for over-80 maestros?

See also: Levine’s $3.5 million payoff

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    • Mehta is correct in the sense that the media can destroy whomever they choose. The weaponization of the leftist US media is repulsive. That said, Levine earned the shame he received.

        • Yes, I fail to see how the media holding Levine to account for his {alleged} repulsive sexual abuse is “leftist,” or has anything to do with politics at all. Very odd comment.

      • you don’t seem to know the meaning of leftist. In Europe and most of the world your leftist US press and democratic Party would be called conservative. And isn’t weaponization something of the right?

        • By European standards, America has one center-right party and one hard-right party, but sadly one cannot expect civic literacy from people who use terms like “leftist” or “Marxist” with zero idea of their actual meaning.

          • Yes, Manifesto Project shows the Republican Party leaning more towards extreme right than France’s National Rally or UK Independence Party, whereas the Democrats are more center-left. Clearly, commenters here have no nuanced understanding of what “right” or “left” means. To them it’s more a label akin to the playground “who’s it!?”

            The people babbling nonsense here are also most likely of the desperate older generation who feel left behind. However, young people are moving more and more to the left, and even young Republicans are becoming socially progressive on issues such as homosexuality/abortion/environment, so there is hope. Maybe in 10-20 years, the comment section on this blog will be very different.

          • Wait, wait – whaddya mean the oldsters are being left behind by the progressive movement? Who exactly do you think all those old hippies, civil rights marchers, early feminists and anti-war protesters became?

          • You hit the proverbial nail on the head! You’re so right; it’s unfortunate that your typical Republican has no idea what socialism, communism and Marxism mean

    • He was quite a hot young stud. I bet he was with plenty of women. I would not be surprised if someone cooked up a fake harassment or rape case against him.

          • Simple googling will show consistent research on how 90%-98% of allegations are in fact true. So clearly your opinion is based not on fact or research but wishful thinking. Do you not find it sad to live in your own fantasy world? Try harder and you can join us in reality. Trust me, it’s much more fulfilling.

          • You can cherry pick any research you want and find that allegations are false somewhere between 1 % and 90% of the time.

          • A man I know was a New York City police officer for many years.

            He once told me the story of a rape case that he handled. Long story short (and it was a long story), it was a false accusation.

            He made sure that the woman was charged, because of the damage that had been done to the man.

            Why do I mention this story? Because, in his decades on the force, it was the *one* rape case that he handled where the allegation was false.

      • Now with the Curtis Institute coming out with its report, Karl will have the opportunity of calling Lara St. John another “faker”, no doubt. So many fake rapes, and ne’er a true one, eh?

      • Uh, huh? This is well known, and has been in the music community for half a century. I know one of his victims, now in his late 60s, who came forward to The Times, and I had heard his stories for years. People can be evil and ruin lives.

  • ‘Failed artists’? Several of Levine’s reported victims went on to have very successful careers in major orchestras – some as principal players. Sorry Zubin, but not everybody in the classical music industry can go on to become multi-million dollar conductors. Quit belittling those less fortunate than yourself and instead perhaps spend some of your free time learning how to conduct Mozart.

    • How about, learning how to conduct, period? His live Bruckner 8 that I heard in Boston with the IPO was atrocious in every way–he uniquely disfigured the work. And for years I heard from family and friends in NYC how awful his tenure with the NYPO was. He may be a fine person, but as a conductor, there are many who think of him as substandard.

      • Like a lot of other conductors, as he got older Mehta lost something that made him a star. You should have been in Los Angeles during his tenure – wow! Guilini, Salonen, Rattle…Dudamel – no one filled those shoes yet!

        • I was living in Los Angeles when he became conductor of the LA Phil. He had little previous experience, even less talent, but endless arrogance, typical of an insecure performer. He still holds the record for the worst Mahler 8 I have ever heard there. When he left and Giulini arrived it was as if a black cloud had been lifted. I heard him again in 2019 in Lucerne conduct Schubert 3 and the only thing that had changed was that he had simply become totally boring.

    • When I was young, I attended a performance of the New York Philharmonic, Mehta conducting, in which the fourth movement of the Mozart Jupiter nearly collapsed. I was stunned.

  • Mehta says, “That sounds like revenge.” Once again, someone who has never been a victim thinks he’s in a position to opine about the motives of victims. Just like white people insisting that people of color don’t experience racism. When will those who live privileged lives learn to listen?

    • “When will those who live privileged lives learn to listen?”

      Mehta came from India to Vienna in 1954, as an 18-year-old Parsi boy. He worked his way to the top. His family experienced racism in the UK many years ago. So how do you know he has never been a victim? Just because somebody does not complain or is successful doesn’t mean they’ve experienced difficult times, too.

      • Blacks (of the BLM variety) have no grasp of this depth of intellectualization.

        They ONLY see color and lump other peoples into “white” like Jews and Asians which is why these 2 groups don’t have the respect they deserve

        Moreover the Indians (native or indigenous Americans) have been totally left out of the self-absorbed BLM-ANTIFA ego trip we see today. ONY alleged Black victims of Whites acts even receive mainstream media coverage. Most of these allegations are EDITED by the media and later quashed after investigation.

        CNN and MSNBC viewers are too dumb to ask basic, reasonable questions. They are easily manipulated into neurotic, highly emotional panics which makes them vulnerable targets of the Left who sit back laughing AT THEM earning huge sums of money without responsibility for insightment

        Those selfishly rioting on the ground during a pandemic of all things are “college educated”?? Obviously not! They’re disposable PAWNS!!! Nothing more as seen through out history.

    • You apparently do not realize that Mehta is Indian, born in Mumbai, a Parsi. He was one of the first non-white conductors, and as such will certainly have suffered much racist hatred and resistance.

      • For some reason Asians don’t suffer from discrimination. Maybe it’s because they don’t commit massive amounts of crime and rap about killing cops.

        • Actually, Asians unfortunately *are* discriminated against in the US: for example, many universities try to admit as few of those they perceive as “Asians” as they possibly can.

        • Tell it to the recipients of all the “Paki” jokes, “Paki go home” abuse, and worse, in Britain since WW II. And the term embraces, as it were, anyone from the sub-continent.

          In the US, one of the first victims of revenge attacks after 9/11 was an Indian small businessman — he owned a gas station or something similar. A nation that had nothing to do with attacking the US, and was in no way related to the nations that had supplied the perpetrators — just killed because he was brown and “foreign”-looking.

  • Mehta was supposed to open at La Scala with Nono’s Intolleranza 1960. Alas this was cancelled a few weeks ago due to the virus. The same work was scheduled for last month’s Salzburg Festival, under Metzmacher I think, but nixed there too for the same reason.

  • Disgusting comments. James Levine was well known as a pedophile for close to 40 years by practically every single person in the music business including Mehta. They looked the other way, then covered it up. To take this position now is rank hypocrisy. It’s also dishonest.

    • well said. I once had lunch in NY with members of the Met’s Board and they referred to his escapades and they chose to cover them up.

    • Actually Levine’s sins were pederasty as none of the accusers were pre-pubescent. IMO many of the allegations against Levine over the years, particularly pedophilia, were driven by the homophobia of the times as much as “fact”.

        • This is only accurate for certain of the allegations. Most were never investigated at the time of alleged occurrence, and therefore statutes of limitations prevent any criminal investigation. Civil lawsuits are similarly too late to be filed. Levine has the the right to be presumed innocent, but no Constitutional right to guest conductor gigs.

    • Right on! I loved Levine’s music-making, but he was/is a sick man who was protected by a lot of people in the business who knew and allowed young boys to be taken advantage of with impunity. Maybe Zubin suffers from cognitive impairment and doesn’t understand what he is saying. The only person that destroyed Jimmy was Jimmy and his enablers. No one else!

  • Maestro Mehta is not helping Domingo by linking him to a criminal like Levine. There are enormous differences between the alleged transgressions of Domingo and the well documented abominations in Levine’s behavior. It is disturbing that Mehta sees them in the same light.

  • Mehta is right, if you brought together all the “victims” of Levine and Domingo, they wouldn’t be able to put together a single concert that you would be willing to pay money for.

    Of course, today, they are bitter and resentful, but back then, when they were “harassed”, they were willing to go along with it because they were hoping it’d boost their careers.

    So maybe Levine and Domingo lied just a little bit about how talented the “victims” were in order to bed them, maybe they promised a little more than they were willing to deliver after the sex, at best, it is a breach of contract, it is not a crime.

    Also, some “victims” did benefit from trading sex for advancement. The NYT reported that one complainant was actually placed in a prestigious program, with the understood subtext being that he would not have made it into the program otherwise, so some people in fact did get their leg up (no pun intended).

    Look at all those married straight conductors who constantly put their wives in concerts and operas (we all know who they are). You gotta be a spouse to expect that kind of non-stop support, which the “victims” of Levine and Domingo were expecting. But Levine and Domingo never promised them marriage.

    Everyone knew the rules of the game, everyone played the game, the winners moved on and forgot about it, the losers stewed in place and complained 35 years later.

    Google their names (if they’d come out of anonymity), their only accomplishment in life will be “Domingo/Levine kissed me”.

    • Anon, thank you for sharing with all of us that whether one has been subjected to criminal behavior really depends on how “talented” they are in their line of work.

    • So your argument (and Zubin’s) is that complaints against Levine are only valid if lodged by good musicians? Such compelling logic.

      • “the winners moved on and forgot about it, the losers stewed in place and complained 35 years later.”

        The absence of winners among the complainers is compelling evidence that whatever Domingo and Levine did, it was worth the price of success.

        The presence of only losers complaining 35 years after the facts is compelling evidence that whatever Domingo and Levine did, it was not worth complaining about back then.

        • “…whatever Domingo and Levine did, it was worth the price of success.”

          It was not them that paid the price, even if you accept that deal with the devil. What a morally skewed argument.

    • Keri-Lynn Wilson would be even more unknown without balling Gelb so you’ve got a point.

      However abusing young males and females is not acceptable to the rest of us ‘Anon’.

      Or perhaps you people really want Letitia James to get involved and get everything out in a nice public trial? People like you talk big but are cowards at trial time, JUST LIKE LEVINE!!!!

    • Anon sees the situation correctly. In the victimhood culture we live in people want all aspects of their lives policed so they can claim to be a victim at some point. It’s ridiculous. In some cases it’s not even a kiss or psychical touch, just a sexual comment or joke. I remember seeing the accusations against Domingo of ‘sexually charged behavior.’ Call the wahmbulance!

  • “. . . failed artists”? Mehta can talk! Apart from the odd success, Mehta, who was such a promising talent in his youth, is one of the great inadequacies in the conducting world supported by big [& therefore also often dirty] money. A failed grandee, he should do something to help the situation rather than enflame it, but his & the big money won’t let him. Appalling!

  • A few posters call Levine a “criminal”. Yet, he is not in jail, hasn’t been charged, and received 3.5 million to settle a wrongful termination case against his employer. Where is the evidence, other than “everyone knows”?

  • As a professional musician active these last decades in the international opera world, EVERYONE knew about Maestro Levine. And, frankly, that world is rife with such behavior. I always figured there was some connection between using so much 2nd chakra energy and wanton sexual recklessness. Anyway, while I don’t condone the abuse of those who can’t protect themselves, I thought the Met went after Mr Levine more because of concerns and complaints that he was slipping due to adverse health issues and they used this history as an excuse to dump him. It is hard to see these monstrous sides in those with such genius, but looking at history, isn’t this more often than not the case? Or, at least, it certainly has been the reality inside the artists’ realm – until recently.

    • My suspicion was that the Met went after Levine in an effort to cover their own ass. Same with the Boston Symphony. Yes, Levine had been in failing health for a number of years and needed to be gone for the sake of the balance sheet. I suspect, however, that these institutions were more fearful of the woke “me too” mob coming after them. Better to appear that your are taking the virtuous moral high road and cut ties with those who attract unfavorable attention to your organization.

    • EVERYONE knew so EVERYONE is a criminal? Maybe everyone knew he wasn’t really doing anything wrong. Having sex wasn’t against the rules when he was doing it. Now we have so many rules and laws about sex you have to consult with your lawyer before doing anything.

      • No, you don’t “have to consult with your lawyer before doing anything”, Karl.
        You just behave respectfully and honestly towards others and stay within the one law that really counts: The Golden Rule.
        And, yes, everyone who knew about any crimes committed and kept quiet about it is guilty of conspiracy to obstruct justice.

        • Every state in the US has a different definition of sexual assault since it is based on consent. From RAINN: “One of the most common questions that RAINN receives is: What exactly is consent? From a legal standpoint, it’s a deceptively difficult question, since consent means something a little different in each state.”

  • Apparently the media protected Levine for decades by failing to investigate and report what was widely known, or at least suspected. Then they turned on him – a change in mores made his conduct impossible to ignore. I can’t help comparing him to Trump – failure to rein in his misconduct, even privately, eventually created a monster.

    • Reporters had been trying to chase down evidence for the rumors about Levine for many years — and could find no one with any direct knowledge (meaning anything more than having heard rumors) who would speak with them about it.

      Until, finally, some people did. But that wasn’t for lack of trying on reporters’ parts. Nailing down a story like that would make a reporter’s career.

      • They couldn’t find anyone because they didn’t look. They didn’t want to know. They put their heads in the sand. Over 20 years ago, I had dinner in NYC with critics from the NYTimes and Wash Post. The subject of Levine came up. They both acknowledged they knew about his crimes and behavior. I asked one simple question “what are you doing to expose it?” I was met with stony silence. They did nothing.

        • Do you realize how silly your claims of a massive conspiracy by every news organization sound? People are suffering from what is called a moral panic now. Eventually I expect Levine will be accused of eating broiled babies.

  • It takes two to tango. The ‘me too’ movement forgot that they could have walked away (or that, dare I mention, at times the seduction came from their side to advance their careers). To bring down great artists as Levine, Domingo and Kevin Spacey, many decades after such alleged events, spells jealousy to me.

    • Perhaps we disagree on our “j” words. You choose jealousy, I prefer justice, however belated. I suppose that those bringing charges against concentration camp guards “decades” after the events, was also simply a matter of “jealousy”. Oh, those Jealous Jews, wishing THEY could have been the guards!

    • You confuse jealousy with agency.

      People are coming forward now, because they stand a chance today of being believed and their concerns acted upon — even despite comments such as yours and commenters such as you.

  • It is no longer ok to molest colleagues! Or children!
    Very simple. How can folks not wrap their brain around that? Just as we don’t keep slaves anymore. Get with it! Those who defend pedophiles are really suspect.

  • The Met agreed with Mehta, afterall, the Met thought that their own complainants were so discreditable, that the Met chose to pay Levine $3.5 million instead of paying the complainants 1 penny.

    Actions speak louder than words, and $3.5 million speak 3.5 million times louder than the complaints.

  • I’ll never forget the first time I got to work with Zubin. It taught me an important lesson in that to never have high expectations for conductors. He’s one of the most arrogant people I’ve ever encountered.

    • In what this comment was arrogant ? How many conductors make a career ? For the simple raison there is not very much “position” available in the whole world. All musiciens hears this kind of warnings. If a budding musicien can’t take such an affirmation he will be very disappointed by life.

  • Totally agree with Maestro Mehta. Certainly those of us that are gay were aware of the rumors about Maestro Levine. But as a gay man, I have no doubt that those that engaged in this behavior with him knew full well what they we’re doing. And they did it to try to advance their careers! Doesn’t make it right, especially by today’s standards , but the so-called victims aren’t so innocent either!

      • Yes Herr Doktor,
        I am aware of allegations of the individuals interviewed for the Boston Globe. While the behavior of Levine was highly improper, these individuals still had a choice whether to participate in this type of activity. But these individuals have been able to tell told their stories, even if it is decades later. This story is also somewhat personal to me, because of the discrimination on a different level that I encountered during the early years of my career.

  • This is the last time I’m going to say it.Domingo’s “crime” was excessive flirtation.To view it 35 years later through the prism of “me too” virtue signaling is insane.To allow 25 anonymous chorines who never became soloists ,now destroy this legendary career is criminal.As Judge Magruder said in the first tort case we learned in law school “There’s no harm in asking”

    • You do sound gross. To pretend that some powerful men never sexually abused women is to live in a world that doesn’t exist. They did and everyone knew. We know that many women who experienced this had both careers and lives ruined. To pretend this is fiction is ugly and sick.

  • It is very unfortunate that ZM seems to be putting JL and PD into the same category. Alleged misdeeds of the former are far more serious than those of the latter.

  • Maestro Mehta is quite correct, although the present and jealous administration at the Met helped the media in this destruction. Maestro Levine built the Met; it is HIS, and certainly Maestro Domingo has improved the LA Opera from absolutely nothing. All for nothing.

  • Whether or not one agrees with what Zubin Mehta said in that interview regarding Levine and Domingo and their accusers (I personally strongly DISagree with him!), in his other interviews he comes across as a smart, genuine, open and likeable guy. Just watch that wonderful clip below, where he’s talking about his experiences with music of Mahler! For somebody like that I’d be willing to cut some slack – even if the opinion of the 84-year-old maestro on that matter, which (the matter) is particularly sensitive in 2020, not only goes directly against the political correctness of these times but is morally questionable, too (to say the least)…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Owe0DHfilo

    • “Matters: cannot be “sensitive in 2020”. It is pure nonsense. This is to imply that people 1920 were less or more moral, or superior/inferior. And that is nonsense. Matters can be either or!! And this depends on numerous factors, not on the date!!!

  • As a 12 year old child, my mother took me to USC for a music lecture given by Zubin Mehta and his father Mehli Mehta, respected conductor of a youth honor orchestra in LA. At the lecture, Zubin Mehta argued with his father for mentoring girl musicians. He said he didn’t hire women musicians because they just took up space in the orhcestra until they found a husband and got married or got pregnant. Repulsive backward misogyny dressed in bow ties and tails.

    • This story is not credible. As we all know, Maestro Zubin Mehta hired and advanced dozens of female musicians including to many principal positions, when he was music director in LA and NY.

      • I read Meggie’s story as being the other way around, that Zubin supported women vs. his father.

        Perhaps I’m mistaken.

        That notwithstanding, you are correct that many female musicians were hired by Mehta, including, as you wrote, in principal chairs.

        • That comment by “Meggie” was certainly very unclearly written. But it would make even less sense (if that is possible) if the accused in it is Mehli Mehta, because after Bombay until 1955 he was never again a music director of any major professional orchestra and because during the more than three decades of his inspiring and rather successful leadership of the American Youth Symphony he had literally hundreds of female musicians in it. That is why I think that most likely it was his more famous son who was a target of the comment, albeit chosen very poorly and in fact erroneously.

  • Maestro Mehta is right! Seems like revenge, and seems not true al least in Domingo’s case.
    Contrary to Domingo’s case, about Levine one could heard some histories. But they have to be investigated by court to be fair and to act with them as American press did.

  • “There are enormous differences between the alleged transgressions of Domingo and the well documented abominations in Levine’s behavior.“

    That is totally correct. It is disturbing to see somebody put in the same category Domingo to Levine. What Americans did with Domingo is totally inaceptable; with Levine they should investigate more to confirm those crimes.

  • Levine’s propensity to take indecent liberties with young men near him has been an open secret for many years. I remember hearing about it when I was a wee high schooler back in the late 90s. Just because power structures are just now getting around to doing something about rampant abuse does not mean that anybody is motivated by revenge. This is decades late. Mehta should be ashamed for these comments.

  • I fail to see why touching someone’s bottom during a certain party, should become an issue 40 years latter. There are more serious things to consider in life.

  • I’m kind of distressed by the logic of many commentators. Whatever Zubin’s merits as a conductor, they are not relevant to his comments here. If he was Klieber and making the same comments, they are no better or worse. So stick to the subject.

    The “press” did not do in Levine. Levine isn’t Trump; most of the press couldn’t have cared less. Levine’s deeds are what wrecked his career, not any reporting.

    The MET paid $3.5 million which it probably decided was simple expediency. Even if they believe he’s guilty as sin, it would have cost them more in legal fees and unwelcome publicity to fight him. This is probably just a payment to make him go away, just as a football club pays off a manager it sacks (usually for a lot more).

  • Anon–What you might call jealousy Levine’s victims might call betrayal.

    As a psychiatric nurse I know that people who work in psychiatric hospitals are told that they must not develop close relationships with the patients, not only because it is not professional or therapeutic or because unequal relationships are exploitative but because it hurts the worker as well.

    How? Eventually the worker will have to deny an explicit or implicit request of the patient who will feel betrayed and that’s when workers risk being physically assaulted .

    From what I have read of those of Levine’s paramours who did come forward they saw themselves a Levine’s lovers and believed his implicit and explicit promises about professional advancement. When that was not forthcoming and Levine dumped them after they had made themselves vulnerable to Levine professionally and emotionally they felt betrayed. When the opportunity arose they spilled the beans. To paraphrase “Hell hath no fury like the wrath of a woman (or a man) scorned”.

    Having said this I now agree that there were times when the media including bloggers like myself were unfair to Levine. Although the story as told in the Boston Globe was horrendous by today’s standards those were different times–sex between someone who had power or authority over another was more acceptable as was cult type authority.

    Levine had liaisons with many who depended on him emotionally and professionally and may have felt that they had little choice if they wanted to advance as professional musicians. However there is no real evidence that he had sex with someone who was truly a minor (under 16).

    • Levine dumping people when they were no longer of use was not limited to his lovers but to performers in general. In fact it was his dominant MO. Additionally no bloggers have been unfair to him – he received basically worshipful press coverage and audience adulation for many decades much more than his artistic abilities (to say nothing of his non-existent managerial skills) ever warranted. As for there being no evidence of sex with minors, the Met’s payoff to the families of black youth in Harlem strongly suggests otherwise.

  • Placido Domingo has lost nothing by not performing in the US. LA opera is seriously in debt and the Met has been forced to close for the year and may never regain its former status.
    In Europe, where opera originated, things are moving forward.

  • James Levine is a child molestor. Everybody in New Yoek, everybody in Munich knows this. That he could keep on doing what he did for so many years is a clear sign how arts organizations wanted to keep scandals under the table.

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