Late Monday afternoon, New York's hallowed Metropolitan Opera announced that it had fired conductor James Levine - an artist who had a close affiliation with the opera house for more than four decades - after a months-long investigation into claims of "sexually abusive and harassing conduct".
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The Met says claims its management or board had covered up information of Levine's conduct were unsubstantiated. Brown, who went on to play principal bass in the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, said that one night in the dorms, Levine had masturbated him and asked him to reciprocate - and then punished Brown when he declined to do so again, ignoring him for the rest of the summer, even when he was conducting him. Levine also has been terminated as artistic director of the company's young artists program.
The Met hired former U.S. Attorney Robert J. Cleary, now a partner at Proskauer Rose, to head its investigation, and the company said more than 70 people were interviewed. Law enforcement officials said previous year that they would not bring criminal charges against Levine, noting that while the state's age of consent is now 17 - and 18 in some cases - it was still 16 in 1986. Many of his performances were televised by PBS, and singers would rearrange their schedules to appear in his performances or to audition for him.
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Levine has always been one of the most famous maestros in the world of classical music, and for more than 40 years his career has been entwined with the Met, where he served as music director from 1976-2016. He regularly conducted at the Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Bayreuth Festival and Salzburg Festival.
We recognize the great concerns over these issues that have been expressed by the Met community both inside and outside of the opera house, and wish to provide the assurance that the Met is committed to ensuring a safe, respectful and harassment-free workplace for its employees and artists.
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Metropolitan Opera (MET) musical director James Levine is shown in Japan in this 2001 photo provided by the MET April 14, 2016.