James Levine’s Withdrawal: Reading Between the Lines

Daniel Wakin follows through on yesterday’s breaking news about James Levine’s decision to withdraw from the entire fall portion of the MET season due to a new and serious back injury with a more detailed article just posted to nytimes.com. Again, a number of details leap off the page:

For a music director to withdraw so completely from the heart of the season is rare in the annals of modern opera houses, especially when the duties involve high-profile new productions…
… [H]is heir apparent was pushed closer toward center stage. Fabio Luisi, a sought-after Italian maestro, was named the Met’s principal conductor: an upgrade from his previous title of principal guest conductor. The last principal conductor at the Met served from 1973 to ’76. His name was James Levine.
“Rather than hang on endlessly and having to cancel a lot, it would probably be good for everybody if he decided to step down and hand over” the reins, said John Allison, the music critic for The Sunday Telegraph in London and editor of Opera magazine.
“We are dealing with it as best we can, and I think effectively,” Mr. Gelb said. “Certainly we do not want to let down the audiences, and Jim doesn’t want to let down the audiences.”
“[Luisi] is a brilliant conductor,” [Speight] Jenkins, of the Seattle Opera, said. “Peter Gelb really came up with somebody important.”

I think it’s pretty easy to figure out what is likely to happen if Levine’s health situation doesn’t improve significantly before the new year.

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