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The Metropolitan Opera Has Fired James Levine

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The Metropolitan Opera has fired its longtime conductor James Levine. Per The New York Times, the Met released a statement Monday evening that said it had “uncovered credible evidence that Mr. Levine engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct toward vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers, over whom Mr. Levine had authority.” This news follows the Met’s decision to suspend Levine in December of last year.

As the Times notes, Levine’s firing creates a difficult situation for the Met, which costs $300 million a year to run and relies on donations to operate. But the termination also comes as no surprise. In December, the Times first reported allegations that Levine had sexually abused four men decades ago, including Chris Brown, who was 17 when he first met Levine at a summer music program in 1968.

“I don’t know why it was so traumatic,” Brown said. “I don’t know why I got so depressed. But it has to be because of what happened. And I care deeply for those who were also abused, all the people who were in that situation.”

According to the Times, Johanna Fiedler, a former press representative for the Met, wrote in her 2001 book, Molto Agitato: The Mayhem Behind the Music at the Metropolitan Opera, that these rumors about Levine had been going around since at least the late 1970s.

Levine’s termination comes as part of a wave of sexual misconduct accusations against powerful men that began last fall, taking down Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Amazon’s Roy Price, all of whom, like Levine, fell from their positions of power as a result.

Vanity Fair has reached out for comment from a representative for James Levine.

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