The Metropolitan Opera has fired James Levine after an internal inquiry found "credible evidence" of sexual abuse. "In light of these findings, the Met concludes that it would be inappropriate and impossible for Mr. Levine to continue to work at the Met".
"We just announced the termination of James Levine's contract, obviously a major event in the history of the Met, and it is therefore necessary that I not leave NY at this critical time", Gelb wrote in an email to Four Arts President David Breneman late Monday afternoon.
Levine officially retired as music director in April 2016, but had stayed on as music director emeritus and artistic director of the Met's young artist program.
Levine has been associated with the Met Opera for more than four decades, stepping down in 2016 as music director.
Jessica Philips, a clarinetist in the Met who chairs the orchestra committee, sent NPR a statement about Levine's firing: "While this termination of the Met's relationship with Levine obviously brings a certain degree of closure, it is our hope that the Met's early introduction of Yannick Nézet-Séguin [its newest music director] portends a willingness to invest more robustly both in talent and creating a healthy workplace culture". Levine called the accusations "unfounded", saying in a statement that "I have not lived my life as an oppressor or an aggressor". The statement declared 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". The Met did not release the specific findings of its investigation, which it said had included interviews with 70 people.
The man, who is now 48 and whose name has not been revealed, said the abuse continued for years and drove him to the brink of suicide.
Mr Levine has led more than 2,500 performances at the Met, one of the world's most illustrious opera houses, and is often named among America's top conductors. He alleged that the much-older Levine fondled his penis when he was a teenager and masturbated naked in front of him, describing hundreds of incidents.
Levine has not been charged with any criminal offence.