New York Met conductor James Levine accused of molesting teen boy


New York's Metropolitan Opera says it's suspending its relationship with longtime conductor James Levine pending an investigation into multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

"Behavior by any employee of the BSO that runs counter to these core values and beliefs would not be tolerated and would be met with the most serious consequences", the statement concluded. And Ashok Pai, who grew up in IL near the Ravinia Festival, where Mr. Levine was music director, said that he was sexually abused by Mr. Levine starting in the summer of 1986, when Mr. Pai was 16 - an accusation he made previous year in a report to the Lake Forest Police Department in IL.

"Everybody in the classical music business at least since the 1980s has talked about Levine as a sex abuser", said Greg Sandow, a faculty member at the Juilliard School and a widely respected veteran music critic. Levine was scheduled to conduct a New Year's Eve gala performance of "Tosca". He conducted Verdi's "Requiem" Saturday - a live, global radio broadcast that could well prove to be his last Met appearance.

Mr. Gelb spent much of the weekend dealing with the fallout from the accusations - holding an emergency meeting of its executive committee by telephone on Sunday to discuss its decision to suspend Mr. Levine and working to find conductors to take over his canceled engagements.

An author, Johanna Fiedler, also wrote about the Levine rumors in a 2001 book, "Molto Agitato: The Mayhem Behind the Music at the Metropolitan Opera", commenting that inside the company "the stories were dismissed as preposterous".

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"I'm still trying to figure out why it's so incredibly emotional and sticks with you for your whole life", Brown told the Times. Ironically, Levine was replacing current BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons in the pit.

The Met, the nation's largest performing arts organization and one of the world's most prestigious opera houses, is now under close scrutiny.

Those quick actions, however, came more than a year after a police detective in IL first reached out to the Met.

"We do not believe there is any truth whatsoever to the charges", Bliss wrote.

"Scurrilous rumors have been circulating for some months and have often been accompanied by other charges which we know for a fact are untrue", according to Bliss, who died in 1991.

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Allie Brightwell, a spokesperson for Ravinia, said in a statement to December 3 Ravinia would await the outcome of existing investigations before making any decisions about Levine's future at the summer festival. "I've never been able to speak in public generalities about my private life", he said.

Following a 22-year absence from the downtown series, Levine returned in May 2005 to direct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in an all-Brahms concert to benefit the musicians' pension fund. Then-music director Daniel Barenboim was the piano soloist. But at the time the Met took no action.

Rob Copeland, a Lake Forest deputy police chief, was also limited in what he could say about the ongoing investigation.

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