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New York Met suspends James Levine over sexual abuse allegations

Four men have come forward saying they were abused by the veteran conductor in the past

    Conductor James Levine
    Conductor James Levine Photo: Getty Images

    New York’s Metropolitan Opera has suspended its long-term conductor James Levine as accusations of historic sexual abuse continue to mount against him.

    Four men have now come forward alleging that Mr Levine, who stood at the helm of one of the world’s greatest opera houses for four decades, had sexually abused them, the New York Times reported.

    Mr Levine, 74, retired as the Met’s musical director last spring but was named its director emeritus and has conducted several productions this season.

    Peter Gelb, general manager of the Met, told the newspaper on Sunday that it had decided to suspend its relationship and cancel his forthcoming engagements – including a New Year’s Eve performance of Puccini’s “Tosca” – after learning of the accusations.

    In a statement on Twitter, the Met confirmed: “We are suspending our relationship with James Levine, pending an investigation, following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct by Mr Levine that took place from the 1960s to the 1980s, including the earlier part of his conducting career at the Met.”

    The opera house has come under fire for not acting sooner, having learnt of a police inquiry into a report of sexual abuse in 2016.

    The move to suspend Mr Levine came after three men accused the conductor of abusing them as teenagers.

    A fourth man came forward with fresh allegations on Monday.

    According to the New York Post one of the accusers told police: “I began seeing a 41-year-old man when I was 15, without really understanding I was really ‘seeing’ him. It nearly destroyed my family and almost led me to suicide. I felt alone and afraid. He was trying to seduce me.”

    Mr Levine was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, to a musical Jewish family. His maternal grandfather was a chazan, his father a violinist and his mother was an actress.

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