James Levine is suing the Metropolitan Opera for unfair dismissal. The conductor was fired on 12 March after the company, “uncovered credible evidence that Mr Levine had engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct.”
Levine’s court filing reads as follows: “It was only upon learning that the allegations would be published in the press that the Met and [Peter] Gelb, cynically hijacking the good will of the #MeToo movement, brazenly seized on these allegations as a pretext to end a longstanding personal campaign to force Levine out of the Met and cease fulfilling its legally enforceable financial commitments to him.”
It goes on, adding that, “Gelb pursued this agenda for his personal gain to advance his own career and step out of the long shadow cast by Levine’s incredible talent”. It describes the Met’s investigation as “nothing more than a kangaroo court”.
Levine is seeking USD5.8m (€4.7m) in damages for breach of contract and defamation.
In response the Met issued the following statement: “It is shocking that Mr Levine has refused to accept responsibility for his actions, and has today instead decided to lash out at the Met with a suit riddled with untruths.
“There is no basis for Mr. Levine’s assertion that the Met was on a vendetta against him, when in fact the Met supported him through prolonged and repeated periods of illness that kept him from the podium.”
It concludes: “The Met intends to defend this case vigorously.”
Levine was music director at the Met from 1976-2016, after which he was made music director emeritus. A number of musicians have accused Levine of sexual abuse, but no charges have been brought against him.