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Met Opera suspends James Levine after sexual abuse accusations

Press Trust of India  |  New York 

New York's prestigious Metropolitan Opera has suspended its eminent longtime conductor James Levine after three men, including one of Indian-origin, accused that he sexually abused them decades ago.

The company in a statement said that it was suspending its four-decade relationship with 74-year-old Levine and cancelling his upcoming conducting engagements after knowing about his sexual misconduct that took place from the 1960's to the 1980's, Peter Gelb, the general manager of the said.

"Levine will not be involved in any activities, including conducting scheduled performances at the this season," the statement said.

"While we await the of the investigation, based on these new reports, the Met has made the decision to act now,"

it said.

The move to suspend Levine comes a day after one of Levine's accusers claimed he had sexual contact with Levine as a teenager.

One of Levine's accusers, 48-year-old Ashok Pai, who grew up in Illinois near the Ravinia Festival, where Levine was music director, said that he was sexually abused by him starting in the summer of 1986, when Pai was 16 an accusation he made last year in a report to the Lake Forest Police Department in Illinois, The New York Times reported.

Pai said that he first met Levine when he was four years old and his parents took him backstage after a Ravinia concert.

In 1985, when Pai was 15, he said, Levine gave him a ride home and began holding his hand in an "incredibly sensual way."

"I was vulnerable," said Pai.

"I was under this man's sway, I saw him as a safe, protective person, he took advantage of me, he abused me and it has really messed me up," he added.

Chris Brown, who played principal bass in the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra for more than three decades, said that Levine masturbated him in 1986 and then coaxed him to reciprocate when Brown was 17 at the Meadow Brook School of Music in Michigan, the report said.

The third man, James Lestock said that Levine also masturbated him there that summer when Lestock was 17 and a cello student the first of many sexual encounters with Levine that have haunted him.

Levine served as music director of the Met from 1976 to 2016, when he assumed the position of music director emeritus.

Levine has conducted more than 2,500 performances at the Met. He made his debut there in June 1971 with Puccini's Tosca, becoming principal conductor in the 1973-74 season and music director in 1976-77.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, December 04 2017. 13:50 IST