The Metropolitan Opera has opened an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse against legendary former conductor James Levine, the group said Saturday.
The opera announced it became aware of the allegations that Levine molested a teenager in the 1980s when Illinois police opened an investigation in October 2016.
The alleged abuse began when the boy was 15.
“At the time, Mr. Levine said that the charges were completely false, and we relied upon the further investigation of the police. 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. “We’ll now be conducting our own investigation with outside resources.”
The iconic conductor stepped down as music director from the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center in 2016.
(Henny Ray Abrams/AP)
Classical music insiders say Levine’s alleged behavior was an open secret for years and once Kevin Spacey’s reported antics were revealed, they were waiting for the other shoe to drop about Levine.
The maestro molestation accusations were detailed in Molto Agitato, Johanna Fiedler’s 2003 book on the Met.
In it she writes, “One rumor, however, was particularly persistent. Levine, it was said, had had a relationship with a boy whose parents had gone to the Met board, threatening to expose the situation.
James Levine (third right) takes a curtain call at the 125th Anniversary Gala at the Metropolitan Opera House in 2009 with, from left, Roberto Alagna, Angela Gheorghiu, Placido Domingo, Renee Fleming and JDmitri Hvorostovsky.
(Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images)
“Supposedly the board then authorized a major payoff to the family,” Fielder wrote.
The former Met conductor stepped down as music director, citing health problems, at the end of the 2016 season. He remained with the arts group in an emeritus role.
He made a rare stage appearance to conduct Verdi’s Requiem on four occasions from Nov. 24 to Saturday, ending with the matinee performance.
The Cincinnati-born conductor is slated to direct Puccini’s Tosca on New Year’s Eve, the same Italian opera that launched his decades-long career at the Met in 1971.