Met Opera Fires James Levine, Music Director Emeritus Accused Of Sexual Abuse

The company suspended Levine in December over allegations dating back decades.

The Metropolitan Opera fired music director emeritus James Levine on Monday, citing “credible evidence” of sexual abuse and harassment by the once-renowned conductor.

The Met said in a press release that a months-long investigation carried out by “outside counsel” that included interviews with 70 people led to its decision to dismiss Levine.

The investigation, it said, “uncovered credible evidence that Mr. Levine engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct towards vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers, over whom Mr. Levine had authority.”

“In light of these findings,” the statement said, “the Met concludes that it would be inappropriate and impossible for Mr. Levine to continue to work” at the opera.

James Levine, seen here in 2009, served as a conductor with the Met for more than four decades.
James Levine, seen here in 2009, served as a conductor with the Met for more than four decades.

Levine was fired as both music director emeritus and artistic director of the Met’s young artist program.

The company announced in December that it had suspended Levine after several men came forward to accuse him of sexually molesting them as teenagers years ago. The Met said at the time it had hired Robert J. Cleary, a former U.S. attorney now in private practice with the law firm Proskauer Rose, to investigate the allegations.

News of Levine’s suspension came a day after a 2016 police report surfaced, accusing him of sexually abusing a teenager beginning in 1986. The accuser, a man named Ashok Pai, as well as two other men, later spoke to The New York Times about the alleged abuse, which they said dated back to 1968. 

Levine, 74, has called the allegations “unfounded,” and said in a statement in December: “I have not lived my life as an oppressor or an aggressor.”

The Met’s leadership had been told of allegations against Levine at least twice before taking action, the Times reported, first in 1979 and then in 2016 ― more than a year before the company finally suspended him.

In its statement on Monday, the company said Cleary’s investigation found that “any claims or rumors that members of the Met’s management or its board of directors engaged in a cover-up of information relating to these issues are completely unsubstantiated.”

Levine’s termination comes roughly a month after the Met fired British stage director John Copley over allegations of “inappropriate behavior” during a rehearsal.

“The Met is committed to ensuring a safe, respectful and harassment-free workplace for its employees and artists,” the company said its Monday statement.