NEW YORK – The Metropolitan Opera (Met) announced in a statement on Twitter on Sunday that it has suspended its relationship with renowned conductor, James Levine, after multiple accusations of sexual misconduct between the 1960s and 1980s, including in the first half of his career as the music director of the prestigious Met.
In its statement, the Met said that it has suspended its relationship with Levine pending an investigation.
“Mr. Levine will not be involved in any Met activities, including conducting scheduled performances at the Met this season,” the statement read.
“While we await the results of the investigation, based on these new news reports, the Met has made the decision to act now,” said Peter Gelb, Met General Manager whose decision has been backed unanimously by the Met Board and Executive Committee.
“This is a tragedy for anyone whose life has been affected,” it concluded.
The New York Times had reported hours before that the Met was investigating its famous conductor following a 2016 police report in which a man claimed to have been sexually abused three decades ago, when he was a teenager.
Employees of the prestigious opera told the Times that they opened the investigation after receiving requests from the press on Levine, since coming to know about the report last year, contents of which were denied by Levine.
According to the police report, accessed by the New York Post, Levine’s alleged sexual abuse of a man from the state of Illinois began when he was 15 and when the director was 41, and who was working at the Ravinia festival on the outskirts of Chicago.
The unidentified man came forward in October 2016 to Lake Forest Police (Illinois) reporting that Levine’s abuses began in 1985, when he took him home by car and began to hold his hand in a particularly sensual manner.
The alleged victim added that the abuses, which also included being forced to watch Levine masturbate and touched sexually, went on until 1993 and that Levine gave him $50,000 cash at the time.
He also said that the facts almost destroyed his family and led him to attempt suicide, realizing not until later that the director had tried to seduce him.
Levine, 74, began as the music director of the Met in 1976 and remained in the position until 2016.
Currently director emeritus, he is considered a legend in the world of classical music and has 10 Grammys, among his accolades.
According to the Lake Forest police, the alleged victim contacted a member of the Met Opera who urged him to call the authorities.
Investigators also interrogated music blogger Greg Sandow, who claimed to have been contacted by three men (including the victim) alleging abuse by Levine.