Even earlier than the accusations, the Met had been transferring towards a post-Levine period. After years of sick well being, he stepped down as music director two seasons in the past. The firm introduced final month that Mr. Levine’s successor, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, would take on his new role next season, two years ahead of schedule.
But his termination has dealt the Met a severe blow at a second of vulnerability. The firm, the biggest performing arts group within the nation, prices near $300 million a yr to run, making it extremely reliant on the generosity of donors — a dependence that has solely grown because it has faced a box-office slump. Now the Met finds itself compelled to courtroom each philanthropists and audiences because it faces tough questions on what it knew, or ought to have identified, about its star conductor.
The Met suspended Mr. Levine and opened its investigation in December after The Times reported on-the-record accusations of 4 males who stated that Mr. Levine had sexually abused them a long time in the past, after they had been youngsters or his college students. Mr. Levine referred to as the accusations “unfounded,” saying in a press release that “I’ve not lived my life as an oppressor or an aggressor.”
But some questions arose early on about how the corporate had dealt with the case, together with the truth that it started its investigation greater than a yr after Peter Gelb, its common supervisor, was first informed that the police in Illinois had been investigating an accusation that Mr. Levine had sexually abused a teenage boy there within the 1980s.
Mr. Gelb has stated he briefed the management of the Met’s board in regards to the police investigation and spoke with Mr. Levine, who denied the accusations. But Mr. Gelb stated that the corporate took no additional motion, ready to see what the police discovered.
The Met stated that its investigation, which was led by Robert J. Cleary, a associate on the Proskauer Rose regulation agency who was beforehand a United States lawyer in New Jersey and Illinois, had decided that “any claims or rumors that members of the Met’s administration or its board of administrators engaged in a cover-up of knowledge relating to those points are fully unsubstantiated.”
The accusations towards Mr. Levine reported in The Times went again a long time, and shared marked similarities.
Chris Brown stated that Mr. Levine had abused him in the summertime of 1968, when he was a 17-year-old pupil on the Meadow Brook School of Music in Michigan and Mr. Levine led the college’s orchestral institute. Mr. Brown, who went on to play principal bass within the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, stated that one evening within the dorms, Mr. Levine had masturbated him and requested him to reciprocate — after which punished Mr. Brown when he declined to take action once more, ignoring him for the remainder of the summer season, even when he was conducting him.
James Lestock, a cellist, stated that he, too, was abused that summer season when he was a pupil, and stated that the abuse continued in Cleveland, the place a tight-knit clique of musicians adopted Mr. Levine, who was then an assistant conductor on the Cleveland Orchestra on the cusp of a significant profession. He stated that at one level Mr. Levine had the group don blindfolds and masturbate companions they may not see. (Another participant confirmed this in an interview.)
Albin Ifsich, who went on to have an extended profession as a violinist within the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, stated that he had been abused by Mr. Levine for several years, starting at Meadow Brook and persevering with after he joined the group of younger musicians who adopted Mr. Levine to Cleveland and later New York.
Ashok Pai stated he had been abused by Mr. Levine for years, starting in 1986 close to the Ravinia Festival in Illinois, when he was 16. Mr. Pai grew up close to the pageant, the place Mr. Levine was music director, and needed to grow to be a conductor. Three a long time later — after, Mr. Pai stated, remedy had helped him notice how harmful these encounters had been — he detailed his accusations in the fall of 2016 to the Lake Forest Police Department in Illinois. Law enforcement officers stated final yr that they would not bring criminal charges against Mr. Levine, noting that whereas the state’s age of consent is now 17 — and 18 in some instances — it was nonetheless 16 in 1986.
Mr. Levine’s deal with and affect over the Met was uncommon in an period of jet-setting maestros: He performed greater than 2,500 performances with the corporate, excess of some other conductor. Since struggling a spinal damage in 2011 that triggered him to overlook two seasons, Mr. Levine has performed from a wheelchair. It was solely with nice reluctance — and after a battle erupted behind the scenes when performers complained that it had grown tough to observe his conducting — that Mr. Levine stepped down as music director within the spring of 2016. That yr he acknowledged that he had Parkinson’s disease, which he had previously denied, and stated that his difficulties on the rostrum had been associated to his medicine.
Rumors about Mr. Levine and sexual abuse swirled all through his profession. Johanna Fiedler, a former press consultant for the Met, wrote in her 2001 e-book “Molto Agitato: The Mayhem Behind the Music on the Metropolitan Opera,” that such tales had circulated since at the least 1979.
“Each time, the Met press workplace would tirelessly level out the cyclical nature of the gossip and the whole lack of substance,” she wrote.
In 1987, The Times reported that there have been “conflicting rumors about his personal life and an imminent resignation” with out getting particular. Mr. Levine dismissed the stories in an interview with The Times, saying that he had been informed years earlier that there have been “studies of a morals cost in Pittsburgh or Hawaii or Dallas.”
“Both my mates and my enemies checked it out, and to today, I don’t have the faintest concept the place these rumors got here from or what function they served,” he stated on the time.
Mr. Gelb stated in earlier interviews with The Times that Met information confirmed two cases when complaints about Mr. Levine’s habits had reached high firm officers. In 1979, he stated, Anthony A. Bliss, who was then the Met’s govt director, obtained a letter from a board member asking about an nameless letter containing accusations about Mr. Levine. Neither the board member’s letter nor the nameless one may very well be obtained, making the precise nature of the accusations unclear. But a replica of Mr. Bliss’s response obtained by The Times reveals that he dismissed them.
The second time, Mr. Gelb stated, was the 2016 name he obtained from the Lake Forest Police, who had been investigating Mr. Pai’s account. It was a yr later, in December, when the corporate discovered from media inquiries that extra accusers had been coming ahead, that the Met suspended Mr. Levine and opened its personal investigation.