To celebrate Maestro James Levine’s 40 years at the Metropolitan Opera, PBS' American Masters series presents James Levine: America’s Maestro - premiering nationally tonight at 8PM (check your local listings to confirm).
As part of its 25th anniversary season, American Masters explores the conductor’s life and current work - capturing the essence of one of classical music’s authentic giants. Looking back at creative milestones since his 1971 Met debut with Tosca at the age of 28, the film reveals how Levine’s unparalleled musicianship and singular teaching and performance styles make his relationship with the company unique in today’s music world. This one-hour documentary film - directed by Susan Froemke and executive produced by none other than Peter Gelb - provides an insider's view into how Levine transformed The Metropolitan Opera’s Orchestra into one of the great ensembles, elicited legendary performances from leading singers and nurtured new generations of artists.
I seriously can't wait! I love a good biographical documentary.
For more, visit pbs.org.
Incidentally, much ado has been made about James Levine's health and his stamina as Music Director of the Met. So much so, in fact, that many have speculated (and some have even made claims to the fact) that current principal guest conductor Fabio Luisi is the heir-apparent to Maestro Levine's throne.
Not so, says Luisi - at least according to Norman Lebrecht's blog:
Fabio Luisi, touring Japan with the Metropolitan Opera, has taken issue with Peter Gelb’s suggestion that he is the logical successor to James Levine. ‘He said nothing about it to me,’ laughs Luisi. ‘I said to my wife, look what’s in the paper…’We'll bring you more information as it becomes available. You know it's true.
In an interview today with the Tages-Anzeiger of Zurich, he says that he’s agreed to be principal guest conductor at the Met, which means leading one or two productions a year. His main job, from next year, will be music director of the Zurich Opera, and that will keep him busy.
Luisi spoke warmly of his 15-year connection to the new Zurich intendant, Andreas Homoki, and the plans they have together. He is also chief conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, the city where he mostly lives.
I wrote at the time that Gelb was using him as a decoy; Luisi, a straightforward man, confirms today that he was misused.