Metropolitan Opera suspends James Levine over sexual abuse allegations

New York Met Opera suspends longtime conductor over sexual abuse allegations

Met Opera Conductor James Levine Suspended Over Sexual Assault Allegations from Three Men

The Ravinia Festival has cut all ties with famed conductor James Levine amid the allegations of sexual abuse that prompted the Metropolitan Opera to suspend him.

News of his suspension jolted the opera world, where Mr. Levine is considered one of the finest conductors ever, and raised questions about what was known by the Met and other institutions that employed him over the years.

The Met also said it has appointed attorney Robert J. Cleary, a former USA attorney and the current head of the investigations practice at the Proskauer Rose law firm, to lead the investigation into the allegations that took place from the 1960s to 1980s.

The action comes a day after the New York Post first reported that one of Levine's accusers claimed he had sexual contact with Levine as a teenager.

The announcement follows New York Times' interviews with three men who said Levine sexually abused them when they were teenagers. "We need to determine if these charges are true and, if they are, take appropriate action", the Met's general manager, Peter Gelb, said in a statement. The paper reported that a detective from the police department in the community of Lake Forest - which is near Ravinia in Highland Park - contacted the Metropolitan Opera previous year about the allegations.

Chris Brown, who played principal bass in the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra for more than three decades, said that Mr. Levine masturbated him that summer - and then coaxed him to reciprocate - when Mr. There, Brown said Levine invited him into a dorm room and assaulted him, later refusing to make music with the teen when Brown said he would not continue the behavior. "'This is a tragedy for anyone whose life has been affected'".

James Levine                       The Metropolitan Opera CNN Newsource
James Levine The Metropolitan Opera CNN Newsource

Those quick actions, however, came more than a year after police in IL first reached out to the Met. He is also the former music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic and the Ravinia Festival, which is held near Chicago and is billed as the oldest outdoor music festival in the country. Years later, Levine said in interviews that they were among the happiest moments of his musical life as well. He conducted Verdi's "Requiem" Saturday — a live, global radio broadcast that could well prove to be his last Met appearance.

Levine, 74, was the music director of the Metropolitan Opera for 40 years before stepping down in 2016.

An author, Johanna Fiedler, also wrote about the Levine rumors in a 2001 book, "Molto Agitato: The Mayhem Behind the Music at the Metropolitan Opera", commenting that inside the company "the stories were dismissed as preposterous".

The Associated Press does not generally name alleged victims of sexual abuse unless they come forward with their allegations.

The opera company said after the report Sunday that it was suspending its relationship with Levine, its music director from 1976 through 2016.

Levine has struggled with health problems including Parkinson's disease in recent years but was scheduled to conduct several productions this season.

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