NEWS AND LINK: James Levine cancels Metropolitan Opera conducting assignments through 2012-2013

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily


The Metropolitan Opera’s convoluted music director situation
became a little clearer Friday — or did it? The Met announced that its
long-time music director, James Levine, will not conduct again at the famed New
York City opera at least until the 2013-14 season as he recovers from a serious
fall, the latest in a series of health setbacks for the 68-year-old Levine who
has been at the Met’s helm since 1976.


In a statement attached to the Met’s media release (LINK),
Levine said, “I do not want to risk having to withdraw from performances after
the [2012-2013] season has been announced and tickets sold. With that in mind,
I have reluctantly decided not to schedule performances until I am certain I
can fulfill such obligations. The Met’s 2012-13 season needs to be finalized,
and the best conductors available must be contracted now. As my condition
improves, I feel confident I will be ready to conduct again soon, but I cannot
risk a premature announcement.”


Fabio Luisi, the Met’s principal conductor, will take over
all of Levine’s remaining assignments for the current season except for
performances of Siegfried on May 9
and Gtterdmerung on May 12.
Conductors for those performances and for a concert by the Met Orchestra on May
20 at Carnegie Hall will be announced shortly.


“As Levine continues his recovery,” the Met release says,
“it is anticipated that he will gradually resumes his other duties as Music
Director including coaching and planning, and artistic leadership of the
Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.”


Is that enough for a music director? Apparently the Met
thinks so in the case of Levine. It seems obvious that the company doesn’t feel
comfortable enough with Luisi to make him the permanent music director and
letting Levine assume some sort of “laureate” relationship. Is Luisi  — who seems to have done well in his
conducting assignments — merely caretaker while the Met searches for a
long-term solution?


Perhaps Levine will fully recover, although based on the
announced timetable, he will be age 70 when he conducts again. Last Friday’s
announcement seems to bring short-term clarity without answering any long-term



(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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