(Reuters) – New York’s Metropolitan Opera on Sunday suspended its relationship with former long-time music director, the acclaimed conductor James Levine, as it investigates several allegations of sexual misconduct.
The opera said in a statement that it decided to act following “multiple allegations of sexual misconduct by Mr. Levine that took place from the 1960’s to the 1980‘s, including the earlier part of his conducting career at the Met.”
The organization said Levine, Met music director for 40 years until his retirement in 2016, would not be involved in any Met activities, including conducting scheduled performances this season.
“While we await the results of the investigation, based on these new news reports, the Met has made the decision to act now,” General Manager Peter Gelb said in the statement, adding that the action was supported by the leadership of the Met Board and its Executive Committee. “This is a tragedy for anyone whose life has been affected.”
Attempts to reach Levine through his manager Sunday night were unsuccessful. Met officials could not be reached to request comment from Levine.
The allegations at one of the world’s most prestigious opera houses come amid widening sexual misconduct scandals in the fields of entertainment, politics and journalism.
The opera on Saturday said it was investigating Levine after news reports of charges of sexual misconduct in the 1980s. The Met told the New York Times it became aware in October 2016 of a police report in Illinois that month in which a man accused Levine of sexually abusing him three decades ago, beginning when the man was a teenager.
Gelb told the Times that Levine said the charges were false and the Met did not hear anything further from the police.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that additional men had come forward with accusations against Levine.
Reuters was unable to independently confirm any of the allegations.
In 2016, the Met said Levine, who has battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues, would retire for health reasons but would be named music director emeritus and would continue to work with the Met’s young talent development program.
Reporting by Chris Kenning; Editing by Mary Milliken