Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Secrets, Lies, and Levine

James Levine, serial child rapist and longtime conductor / music director / artistic director at the Metropolitan Opera and Boston Symphony Orchestra, died on March 9, 2021, in Palm Springs, CA, at 77. The cause of death has not (yet) been announced. It could have been Parkinson's Disease, which Levine had for an unknown number of years, or it could have been from complications of a fall (he was injured at least twice in bad falls), or it could have been some completely unrelated issue, such as a stroke or heart attack or cancer.

You can read obituaries in the NY Times, Washington Post, and elsewhere about Levine's musical career, or you can peruse the Met annals or read reviews. I have a few, mostly non-musical, things to say.

1. He lied to the public over a very long time about his health.
2. He might have lied to the Metropolitan Opera about his health.
3. If the Met knew about his health problems, they covered for him.
4. He lied to the public about his long history of sexual abuse.
5. He presumably lied to the Met about the abuse.
6. The Met covered for him.
7. He bamboozled a lot of people, including reasonably smart journalists, into thinking that he had  been a major expander of the Met's repertory. He was not. Check the label Levine on this blog; there's a  post where I debunked this ludicrous claim. 

See the pattern? A powerful man who was financially important to a cultural institution,  and an institution ready to lie to protect him.*

If you think that the Met didn't know about the abuse, or at the very least the forty-plus years of rumors of abuse, there is a bridge I would like to sell you, and I will give you your choice of bridges, even. 

I knew about the rumors as a grad student at Stony Brook. Terry Teachout, who then lived in his home state of Missouri, knew the rumors in the 1970s. A fellow posting on Twitter a few years back said "I was a 17-year-old in LA and I knew the rumors." The parents of children in the kids' chorus at the BSO (or maybe it was Tanglewood) told their kids not to ever be alone with him. The late composer Matt Marks noted that "I knew when I was 15, and if I knew, the Met knew."

The Met knew; they covered for his health problems and they covered for the abuse. There's a lot of criminal behavior to around. With Levine gone, maybe more of the facts around Levine and the cover-ups will come out.

* See also, Domingo, Placido


Civic Center said...

Lovely to read an honest obit. And who knew he was in Palm Springs?

Lisa Hirsch said...

Not me!

David Bratman said...

Thank you for pointing out that the story about his health went through exactly the same pattern as the story about his sexual abusing: the evidence was out there in public, it was denied denied denied, until finally it became so clear it could be denied no longer.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thanks, David.