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James Levine To Step Down As Music Director Of The Metropolitan Opera

   After 40 years as music director of the Metropolitan opera , the renowned American conductor James Levine has finally agreed to step down from this prestigious and  demanding post  because of  serious health problems which have plagued him for year

The veteran Met maestro will continue until the end of the 12015-16 season after which he will  be given the title music director emeritus .   At the age of 72 ,  Levine  is not particularly old or superannuated as conductors go ;  many have remained active well 

into their 80s . But  severe back trouble, progressing Parkinson's disease symptoms  , sciatica and arm tremors etc have forced him to conduct  from a motorized wheelchair and he has  had to cancel numerous performances in recent years , not only with 

the Met .  His ailments also forced him to resign as music director of the prestigious Boston symphony orchestra .  

   Unlike many other conductors , James Levine has  singlehandedly devoted himself to one position at the Met for the greater part of his life , and the two have become synonymous .  After making his debut there in 1971 as a rising young conductor , he 

became so popular with audiences, the Met orchestra and singers he was  soon appointed music director , a post which America's foremost opera company had never had for some reason , and he  carefully and painstakingly guided and molded  the venerable

organization , the largest performing arts group in the world  , building the  Met orchestra into one of the finest in the world  and initiating orchestral concerts with  it in in Carnegie hall ,  working with the world's greatest opera singers  and  fostering  the careers 

of numerous talented  young  opera stars .  

    Under Levine , the Met's repertoire continued to grow and diversify  greatly ; it had tended for many years to concentrate on the beloved  staples of the repertoire by Verdi, Puccini et al  to the neglect of  new operas and  and important operatic masterpieces 

which it had never presented , especially 20th century  works .  Levine conducted the Met premieres of such  operatic masterpieces as Alban Berg's Lulu , Moses & Aron by Arnold Schoenberg ,  Mozart's  Idomeneo and La Clemenza Di Tito ,  Benvenuto Cellini 

by Berlioz,  Gershwin's  Porgy and Bess ,  Verdi's I Vespri Siciliani ,  Stiffelio and I Lombardi ,  The Rise & Fall of the City of Mahagonny by Kurt Weill  .  He also led the world  premieres of several operas by leading American composers such as  John Corigliano 

and John Harbison , as well as revivals of operas which the Met had not performed  for many  decades , such as  Francesca Da Rimini by Riccardo Zandonai ,  Verdi's Nabucco  and Ernani ,  and Smetana's The Bartered Bride among others .

   Other Met premieres which he did not conduct included the  Met's first performances of operas by George Frideric  Handel such as Rodelinda, Rinaldo , and Giulio Cesare (Julius Caesar ) ,  Capriccio by Richard Strauss ,   Satyagraha by  Philip Glass ,

Doctor Atomic ,  Nixon in China and  The Death of Klinghoffer by John Adams ,  Katya Kabanova,  The Makropoulos Case and From The  House of the Dead by Leos Janacek ,  Dvorak's Rusalka,  The Nose and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District  by Shostakovich ,

to name only a partial list .

   Maestro Levine is scheduled to conduct  three operas  next season at the Met  and the company under general manager Peter Gelb ,  is  busy searching for a  conductor of international stature to succeed him . This will be no easy task  , but  the brilliant  

Canadian French conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin, who has conducted  regularly there for several years with great success and is currently music director of the Philadelphia orchestra , is  considered to   have a strong chance of  doing this .

     Maestro Levine has   led the Metropolitan opera through  good and bad times ,  weathered  numerous  artistic , financial and labor crises ,  had his share of  dazzling triumphs and  controversial productions which failed to please the music critics ,     

faced  captious reviewers who faulted him for his interpretive approach  to certain operas  , complained bitterly about the  design and direction of  many operas ,  casting of singers and  the quality of  guest conductors  -  you name it .   

    However,  under Levine, the Met has  been able to engage such eminent conductors as   Daniel Barenboim , Riccardo Muti,  Simon Rattle,  Esa-Pekka Salonen,  Christian Thielemann ,  Christoph Eschenbach , Valery Gergiev ,  Vladimir Jurtowski ,

Carlos Kleiber, Lorin Maazel ,  and others .  No matter harsh the critics may be,   the Met audience adores James Levine, and rightly so ,  as well as its superb , devoted and hard-working orchestra and chorus .  
Posted: Apr 18 2016, 10:17 PM by the horn | with no comments
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