Metropolitan Opera fires music director emeritus, Cincinnati native James Levine

NEW YORK -- The Metropolitan Opera has fired music director emeritus and Cincinnati native James Levine, finding "credible evidence" of "sexually abusive" conduct.

Levine was suspended by the Met in December pending the investigation.

The Met says in a Monday statement that its investigation found Levine "engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct towards vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers." The company says "it would be inappropriate and impossible for Mr. Levine to continue to work at the Met."

The 74-year-old Levine had been a towering figure in the company's history, ruling over its repertoire, orchestra and singers as music or artistic director from 1976 until he stepped down under pressure two years ago.

The Met says claims its management or board had covered up information of Levine's conduct were unsubstantiated.

Levine began his musical career in his hometown, making a solo debut during a youth concert with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra when he was 10. He graduated from the Juilliard School in New York, where he studied conducting. He was, for a time, musical director for the Cincinnati May Festival and has occasionally returned to Cincinnati to conduct. He holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Cincinnati.

Levine has struggled with health problems including Parkinson’s disease in recent years.

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