After much anticipation by fans - and, I think, by the Met Opera's administration - James Levine has returned to conducting after a two year health related absence.
Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times reported on Maestro Levine's return:
On Sunday afternoon Mr. Levine, one of the greatest living American conductors and a musician who has defined the Metropolitan Opera for more than 40 years, cruised onto the stage of Carnegie Hall in a motorized wheelchair and conducted the Met Orchestra in a substantial program, his first performance anywhere in more than two years. The audience, which packed the house, stood almost in sync to give him a hearty welcoming ovation.Now, it's on to 3 productions at the Met.
The podium area was enclosed on three sides with painted wood panels that fit with the design of Carnegie Hall interiors. Behind the panels, a rising platform lifted his chair. His entrance was choreographed so that after facing the audience, blowing kisses and waving his hands, Mr. Levine was able to turn his chair around and get to work in just over a minute. Then he led a serene, poised and glowing account of the Prelude to Act I of Wagner’s Lohengrin.
So he really is back. This was Mr. Levine at his best. There are still big questions hovering over the Met about whether he can fulfill the duties of music director, which remains his title. But this was a day to celebrate his return and bask in his musical glory.
Welcome back, Maestro. Wishing you Godspeed as you continue in this next part of your journey!
Incidentally, if you want to listen to a truly spectacular interview with Maestro Levine, please click over to the WQXR's Operavore blog. In this interview, conducted by Marilyn Horne, Maestro Levine discusses his health issues, the state of opera today and also discusses the current inadequate supply of large voices.