domingo, 17 de abril de 2016


James Levine will step down from his post after this season to become music director emeritus.CreditMarty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

He struggled with health problems and surgeries for years, and missed two full seasons after a serious spinal injury in 2011. But James Levine, whose name became virtually synonymous with the Metropolitan Opera since becoming its music director four decades ago, always seemed to battle back, even conducting from a motorized wheelchair in recent years.
But his health battles have made it difficult to focus on a daunting range of responsibilities over the company’s artistic direction. And this season his body rebelled again, as complications related to his Parkinson’s disease sometimes caused his left arm to flail and made itincreasingly difficult for performers to follow his conducting. So on Thursday, after a vigorous internal debate in recent months over his future, the Met announced that Mr. Levine, 72, would step down after this season to become music director emeritus, a position in which he would still conduct.
Mr. Levine summoned the orchestra and chorus to an unusual meeting Thursday afternoon in List Hall, a small auditorium at the opera house, to deliver the news. There he spoke frankly about his health and his love of the company, according to several people who attended, and at one point quoted a letter about artistic integrity by Samuel Beckett. Some listeners grew teary, and at the end Mr. Levine’s colleagues gave him what so many audiences had over the years: a standing ovation.

“For more than four decades the Met has been my artistic home, and I am tremendously proud of all we have been able to achieve together as a company,” Mr. Levine said in a statement, “from expanding the repertory to include new and seldom-heard works, to the development of the orchestra and chorus into one of the glories of the musical world.”
“Although I am unable to spend as much time on the podium as I would like,” he added, “I am pleased to step into my new role and maintain my profound artistic ties to the Met.”
His retirement marks the end of an era at the Met — and of an important period in New York City’s cultural history. Since his debut in 1971, Mr. Levine has conducted 2,551 performances with the company, a dedication to a single institution that is almost unheard of in an age of jet-setting maestros. He became the Met’s music director in 1976, when Gerald R. Ford was the president, Abraham Beame was mayor and Reggie Jackson was just deciding to join the Yankees.
But if his departure solves one problem, by addressing a situation that some at the opera house had warned was growing untenable, it also raises new questions about the next chapter at the Met, which is facing financial challenges and box office struggles.
Mr. Levine conducting in Kulas Hall at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He made his Met debut with Puccini’s “Tosca” at just 28 years old, in 1971. CreditHastings, Williams & Associates/Met Opera Archives

The company — which, with its roughly $300 million annual budget, is the largest performing arts organization in the nation — said that a plan to appoint a successor to Mr. Levine was in place, and that it would make an announcement in the coming months. Much speculation has centered on Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, who has taken on increasingly high-profile assignments at the Met.
Mr. Levine’s effect on Met history can hardly be overstated. He transformed the orchestra from a second-rate pit band to one of the finest in the world; conducted several generations of opera’s leading singers; and helped the Met maintain, and build on, its international reputation. He became the company’s artistic director in 1986 and held that post for nearly two decades, and was lauded for conducting the core Italian repertory as well as works by Wagner and Mozart, and for championing key 20th-century operas by Berg and Stravinsky, several of which he brought to the Met for the first time.
Through his struggles he has remained an audience favorite, receiving a lengthy ovation earlier this month at a performance of Verdi’s “Simon Boccanegra” before the orchestra had even played a note.
Jessica Phillips, a clarinetist and chairwoman of the Met’s orchestra committee, said that the orchestra looked forward to his upcoming projects as music director emeritus. “It is an honor to carry the values Maestro Levine has instilled in us into this new era at the Metropolitan Opera — the house that Jimmy built,” she said in a statement.

Mr. Levine was named the Met’s principal conductor in 1972, its music director in 1976 and its artistic director in 1986. CreditJack Mitchell/Getty Images

Mr. Levine has been dogged by health problems for more than a decade, and they caused him to resign as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2011, after seven seasons. Later that year he fell and injured his spine, causing him to miss two seasons at the Met. But he returned in 2013, initially appearing energetic and in control. But this season he visibly worsened, sometimes listing to the right during performances and having trouble controlling his left arm.
The company has of late sometimes had to resort to extraordinary measures when Mr. Levine conducted — with the orchestra looking to the concertmaster for guidance, soloists looking at the prompter’s box, and the chorus being led by Donald Palumbo, the chorus master, from the wings.

Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, initially planned to announce Mr. Levine’s retirement this winter, but delayed the announcement when Mr. Levine’s doctor said that a change in the dosage of the medication for his Parkinson’s could solve the problem. Mr. Levine said in an interview in January that he hoped to stay on as music director: “Sometime in the foreseeable future I have to stop, but I would hope that we could decide it in a way which wasn’t rushed by the fact that I wasn’t giving them what they need.”
But while several musicians and colleagues said that they had seen some improvement, it was not as dramatic as many had hoped, and that his stamina sometimes seemed to flag. When Mr. Levine conducted “Simon Boccanegra,” Anthony Tommasini wrote in The New York Times that he had “led a radiant, stirring, if sometimes uneven performance.”

Mr. Levine at the gala celebrating his 25th anniversary with the Met, in 1996.CreditOsamuHonda, via Associated Press

Now his departure raises questions about the immediate future. Several musicians said they were concerned that a long wait for a new leader could leave the company without strong artistic leadership. David Frye, the chairman of the Met’s chorus committee, said performers would be concerned if, in an era when top talent is booked for years in advance, no new music director had been engaged who could start reasonably soon.
The Met announced that it was promoting John Fisher, its director of music administration, to the new post of assistant general manager for music administration.
Mr. Gelb, who declined to comment further about the search for the next music director, said that he had promoted Mr. Fisher to send a signal that the company prioritizes musical quality. “My perspective on the opera company is one that emphasizes the great musical qualities of the Met above everything,” he said, noting that he had worked during his tenure to bring in leading conductors and singers who have never worked at the Met before.
Mr. Levine’s next task? More conducting. He plans to lead the remaining performance of “Simon Boccanegra” on Saturday and five of Mozart’s “Die Entführung aus dem Serail,” which opens April 22, as well at the Met Orchestra’s May 19 and May 26 concerts at Carnegie Hall (but not its May 22 concert). Next season he will withdraw from a new production of Strauss’s “Der Rosenkavalier,” but still plans to conduct revivals of Rossini’s “L’Italiana in Algeri,” Verdi’s “Nabucco” and Mozart’s “Idomeneo” — three operas, the company noted, that he has led at the Met more than any other conductor.
Correction: April 16, 2016 

A picture caption on Friday with the continuation of an article about James Levine’s decision to step down as music director of the Metropolitan Opera misidentified the location where he was shown conducting in the early 1970s. He was in Kulas Hall at the Cleveland Institute of Music, not at the Met.

No hay comentarios:

Publicar un comentario