Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Maestro Levine is out, Maestro Luisi is in ... and, someone might be getting sued

Maestro James Levine
[Sigh] As we've all heard by now, Maestro James Levine has had to pull out of more performances at the Met. It seems that while vacationing in Vermont, Maestro Levine sustained a fall that injured a vertebra in his back. After undergoing emergency surgery, it was announced that the Maestro would be out of commission until January, at least.

What was the Met to do with a Music Director unable to conduct? Lean a little heavily on their newly appointed Principal Guest Conductor, Maestro Fabio Luisi. In point of fact, they're going to lean on him so heavily that he is getting a new title: Principal Conductor.

The last principal conductor at the Met served from 1973 to 1976.

His name was James Levine.

More on the subject from The NY Times:
The news again raised the question of whether the increasingly frail Mr. Levine, 68, can continue as music director. He is a universally respected musician who more than anyone else has helped build the Met into an international operatic powerhouse.

“So far as I’m concerned, in a lifetime in opera, he’s the only true genius I’ve ever known,” said Speight Jenkins, the general director of the Seattle Opera. “His capacity to encompass a vast amount of material with seeming ease and a personal approach to it is astonishing.” And Mr. Levine’s future at the Met has broader implications, Mr. Jenkins said, adding, “The Met has a huge effect on American opera, and James Levine has been the Metropolitan.”

Mr. Levine, who celebrated 40 years at the house last season, was a remarkable workhorse until a fall onstage at the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2006 required him to have rotator cuff surgery. Then came kidney surgery for a malignant cyst and repeated back surgeries, forcing numerous cancellations at the Met and even more at the Boston Symphony, where he was music director from 2004 until he threw in the towel there last spring.
So, does this mean that Maestro Levine is going to get the ol' heave-ho? The ol' 86? The ol' boot?

Not so, says Peter Gelb - who told The NY Times:
Sure, the Met could say it’s time to make a change, but why would we want to do that if we have the possibility to continue with him? At the point he can’t do it any longer, he’ll stop. But if he wants to come back, we owe it to him to support him.
Maestro Fabio Luisi
The drama doesn't stop there. Now, some houses in Europe are torqued-off and one is even threatening legal action agains the Met. From The Guardian.co.uk:
Opera houses on both sides of the Atlantic have become involved in a tale of stolen talent, bitter recrimination and nasty injuries that would do justice to any of the great emotional works.

But the action, which shifts from New York to Rome to Vienna, is all offstage and centres on world-renowned Italian conductor Fabio Luisi, who has left several opera houses in the lurch after being poached by the New York Metropolitan Opera.

Leading the queue of angry theatres is Rome's Teatro dell'Opera, which is threatening to sue the Met after scrambling to find a stand-in to conduct Richard Strauss's Elektra on 30 September.

In a tart statement, the theatre complained that Luisi had left it until three days after rehearsals were due to start to break the news. "This unpleasant affair damages the world of classical music and opera," it claimed, adding that it was weighing up legal action to protect "its image, artistic quality and public".

The Met swooped for Luisi and named him principal conductor after its veteran conductor and music director James Levine fell while on holiday in Vermont and damaged a vertebra, forcing him to pull out of performances for the rest of the year. Luisi, who has previously worked as a guest conductor at the Met, told the New York Times that the opera houses where he was cancelling commitments would understand "the bigger picture and the dimension of the projects we are talking about."

Peter Gelb, the Met's general manager added in a statement: "I appreciate the understanding of those companies with whom he was scheduled to conduct."
I understand that the other houses have had to scramble, but come on ... Luisi is basically being handed the keys to the Met. Push on, people. Push on.

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