NEW YORK – New York’s Metropolitan Opera fired on Monday its music director emeritus, James Levine, after an investigation that turned up “credible evidence” that he had engaged in sexual harassment during his career.
The investigation “uncovered credible evidence that Mr. Levine engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct both before and during the period when he worked at the Met,” the company said in a statement.
Consequently, “it would be inappropriate and impossible for Mr. Levine to continue to work at the Met,” the statement added.
The 74-year-old Levine, a legend in the classical music world, was conductor at the Met Opera for four decades and continued to be linked to the institution after leaving that post.
The Met said in its statement that it had ended its relationship with Levine because of his sexually harassing and abusive conduct over decades.
According to the Opera, among Levine’s victims were artists in the early stages of their careers over whom Levine had authority.
The investigation, lasting more than three months, included interviews with more than 70 people and was launched by the Opera after complaints against Levine made late last year.
One of the documents examined during the investigation was a police report that had been filed in Lake Forest, Illinois, in October 2016, in which an unidentified man claimed that he had been the victim of sexual abuse by Levine three decades ago when he was 15 and the conductor was 41.
The man claimed that the abuse – including Levine sexually touching him and masturbating in front of him – lasted from 1985-1993 and during that time the conductor gave him $50,000 in cash.
Meanwhile, the Met said that complaints and rumors that its officials or board of directors had covered up Levine’s conduct were completely unfounded, adding that it seeks to ensure that its employees and artists have a safe and abuse-free environment in which to work.