Conductor James Levine fired by New York's Metropolitan Opera

Conductor James Levine fired by New York's Metropolitan Opera

NEW YORK-The Metropolitan Opera fired James Levine on Monday evening, ending its association with a conductor who defined the company for more than four decades after an investigation found what the Met called credible evidence that Levine had engaged in "sexually abusive and harassing conduct".

After considering the findings of a thorough investigation conducted by outside counsel that lasted more than three months, the Metropolitan Opera has terminated its relationship with James Levine as Music Director Emeritus and Artistic Director of its young artist program.

Due to these findings, the company concluded "that it would be inappropriate and impossible for Mr. Levine to continue to work at the Met".

Even before the accusations, the Met had been moving toward a post-Levine era. The statement said rumors that opera's board of directors were involved in a cover-up were "completely unsubstantiated".

The 74-year-old conductor, who made his Met debut in 1971, denies the claims.

The Met investigation comprised interviews with more than 70 people.

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Chris Brown, a member of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra for three decades, said that Levine masturbated him and encouraged him to reciprocate when he was 17 at the Meadow Brook School of Music in MI. After The Associated Press reported sexual assault allegations against him, the Swiss conductor resigned as artistic director and principal conductor of London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and engagements were cancelled at numerous orchestras.

Met officials at the time acknowledged they had been aware of the alleged victim's police report since it was filed previous year in IL, but they also said Levine denied any wrongdoing at the time and authorities did not contact them further.

Ashok Pai said he had been abused by Levine for years, beginning in 1986 near the Ravinia Festival in IL, when he was 16.

Ashok Pai was a 15-year-old from IL living near the Ravinia Festival where Levine was a music director when the sexual abuse started.

The conductor has not been criminally charged and, unless more recent incidents are uncovered, the alleged misconduct took place too long ago for prosecution.