Former Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine has died at age 77. He passed away on March 9.
The news was announced Wednesday by his physician Dr. Len Horovitz, who confirmed Levine died in his home in Palm Springs, California. It is not clear why the news was not announced until now.
Considered one of the world’s greatest conductors, he led the Metropolitan Opera as Music Director for over 40 years before retiring in 2016 due to Parkinson’s disease. Throughout his career, Levine conducted 2,552 performances.
He continued as the head of the MET’s Young Artist Development Program before being officially fired on Dec. 3, 2017, at the height of the #MeToo movement. An internal investigation by the Met Opera found that he had engaged in “sexually abusive and harassing conduct” involving four teenagers dating back to the 1960s.
Levine filed a defamation suit against the Met, which resulted in Levine receiving $3.5 million after the two sides settled out of court.
Despite his disgrace, the Met Opera’s General Manager Peter Gelb recognized his contribution to the Met, stating, “No artist in the 137-year history of the Met had as profound an impact as James Levine. He raised the Met’s musical standards to new and greater heights during a tenure that spanned five decades.”
Levine was scheduled to make a come-back performance conducting at Italy’s Maggio Musicale Festival this past January, but the event was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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