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Peter Gelb cancels Four Arts talk after the Met fires James Levine

Peter Gelb cancels Four Arts talk after the Met fires James Levine

James Levine, the once esteemed conductor of New York's Metropolitan Opera, was sacked from the company on Monday after an in-house investigation including over 70 interviews found evidence supporting a history of sexual abuse allegations, reports The New York Times.

Levine was appointed the company's music director in 1976, and stepped down two years ago due to ill health, taking the title music director emeritus and heading up the young artists' program.

The Met said in a statement Monday that its investigation found Levine "engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct towards vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers".

The leading USA opera house had already suspended Levine in December after allegations first became public against him.

Meanwhile, the Met said that complaints and rumours 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.

The statement from the opera noted that the investigation, which was conducted by an outside counsel, uncovered conduct both before and during his tenure as the artistic director of the Met.

The Met said more than 70 people were interviewed during its investigation.

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Levine's downfall began in December, when the New York Post reported on a 2016 police report in which a teenager alleged decades of abuse by the conductor starting when the victim was 15 at the Ravinia Music Festival near Chicago - one of a number of classical institutions that has since cut ties with Levine.

A representative of Levine's did not respond to Associated Press's request for comment.

Many of Levine's performances were televised by the Public Broadcasting Service, and singers rearranged their schedules to appear in his performances or even to audition for him.

Levine has not been charged with any criminal offence.

Instantly recognizable by his bushy frock of hair and towel draped over a shoulder during rehearsals, he regularly conducted at the Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Bayreuth Festival and Salzburg Festival.

Levine has always been one of the most famous maestros in the world of classical music, and for more than 40 years his career has been entwined with the Met, where he served as music director from 1976-2016.


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