In today’s Wall Street Journal “Sightings” column, I discuss James Levine’s firing. Here’s an excerpt.
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It was all true. That’s the conclusion of the Metropolitan Opera, which fired James Levine on Monday, issuing a statement declaring that an outside investigation in which more than 70 people were interviewed has uncovered “credible evidence” that he “engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct toward vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers, over whom Mr. Levine had authority.” The company also said that this conduct took place “both before and during” his tenure at the Met….
Now what? If the Met’s conclusions are correct, then firing Mr. Levine was self-evidently necessary. Call it good riddance to foul rubbish. But that alone will not be remotely sufficient to ensure the survival of the company that he has besmirched.
The Met appears to think otherwise. Its officers are behaving as if getting rid of its music director emeritus is the only step needed to clean house. In its statement, the company pointedly declared that “any claims or rumors that members of the Met’s management or its board of directors engaged in a cover-up of information relating to these issues are completely unsubstantiated.”
But it’s not good enough merely to issue a tight-lipped nothing-to-see-here-move-along statement in which you announce that you’ve investigated your star conductor, found him guilty as hell and given him the boot….
If the report of the investigation justifies firing Mr. Levine, then why is it not being released? The company claims that it must protect the privacy of those who spoke to its investigators. But this is one case where the interests of the institution as a whole trump those of any individual associated with it. By not explaining in detail why Mr. Levine is being fired, Peter Gelb is playing “trust me” with the public. The problem is that neither he nor his board have earned that trust…
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Read the whole thing here.