Friday, April 15, 2016

Levine era ending at the Met

James Levine, battling Parkinson’s disease and plagued by repeated injuries, is giving up his post as the artistic director of New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The announcement was not unexpected, given Levine’s infirmities, his prolonged absences and increasing difficulties in consistently managing performances.

The 72-year-old conductor plans to continue at the Met as music director emeritus with a more limited schedule.

Levine, who has led 2,551 performances at the company since his debut in 1971, was named its music director in 1976 and artistic director 10 years later. Today’s Met is often called “the house that Jimmy built.”

Although he has worked extensively with major orchestras (Berlin, Vienna, Chicago, Philadelphia), conducted at the Salzburg and Bayreuth festivals and served as music director of the Munich Philharmonic (1999-2004) and Boston Symphony Orchestra (2004-11), Levine has devoted most of his career to the Met, raising its orchestra to international stature and introducing many works, especially from the modern period, to its repertory. He has been the conductor of choice for many of the leading opera singers of the past two generations.

The Met has not named a successor or disclosed a timetable for appointing one, leading some musicians to tell The New York Times’ Michael Cooper that they are “concerned that a long wait for a new leader could leave the company without strong artistic leadership:”