Friday, October 12, 2012

James Levine Plans Return to Met in May 2013

The Classical World

James Levine, the energetic and much-loved musical director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, plans to return to the podium, after an absence of almost two years due to illness. The New York Times writes that Levine is expected to take his place at the podium for a May 19 performance by the Met Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. Daniel J. Wakin writes:
Mr. Levine, 69, once a workhorse of the baton, has been plagued by health problems since 2006, leading to a drip-drip of cancellations over recent years. A fall in the summer of 2011 that caused severe damage to his spine forced him to bow out of all of last season and cancel involvement this season while he recovered. He hasn’t led a performance since May 14, 2011, when he conducted Wagner’s “Walküre.”
 “I’m overwhelmingly happy to be coming back,” Mr. Levine said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “It’s miraculous for me.”
Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, gave the news to the executive committee of the trustees late on Thursday afternoon and planned to tell the company before the evening’s performance. Mr. Gelb said Fabio Luisi, the principal conductor who was brought in to fill the void left by Mr. Levine’s absences, would remain in the position to preserve musical continuity for the orchestra, but it was not immediately clear how he and Mr. Levine would share responsibilities.
In the interview Mr. Levine disclosed details about his condition. He remains unable to walk because of the spinal damage and acknowledged what many had suspected for a while: he has a nonprogressive condition related to Parkinson’s disease that causes hand tremors, which his doctors called “benign Parkinsonism.”
In addition to the concert in May, Levine is scheduled to lead the revival of Mozart’s “Così Fan Tutte” for nine performances, starting on Sept. 24; a new production of Verdi’s “Falstaff” for 10 performances, starting on Dec. 6; and a a revival of Berg’s “Wozzeck” for five performances, starting on March 6, 2014. It's a full and rigorous schedule; we hope that Levine's health is up to the task. Making the task of movement easier for him is his use of a motorized wheelchair: "Met technicians are devising a podium that mechanically rises and falls, like an elevator, for Carnegie Hall and the Met pit, the Times writes.

You can read the rest of the article at [NY Times]

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