James Levine - it's about time

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by sutherland, Dec 3, 2017.

  1. Charlie

    Charlie Peer

    Then please answer my question about your comment.
  2. WilliamM

    WilliamM Regent

    Took the time to respond to your question about hagiography, although the question was a minor insult. That's it.
  3. Moondance

    Moondance Peer

    This perspective, a mix of great admiration and grave disappointment, was written by Anthony Tommasini, classical music critic for The New York Times, and published on December 5. His thoughts touch on some of what we've been talking about in this thread ...

    "... how do Mr. Levine’s countless fans, and I as a critic, reconcile his legacy with what he’s been accused of? Is his work tainted beyond our ability to appreciate the artistry involved?"

    Should I Put Away My James Levine Recordings?

    In the living room of the apartment I share with my husband, we have a handsome dark-wood case for our stereo system. Two box sets of performances from the Metropolitan Opera with James Levine conducting have occupied a prominent spot on the lower shelf since they were released in 2010 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Mr. Levine’s Met debut. Displaying them was a genuine expression of my admiration for a towering American artist.

    But on Sunday, Mr. Levine was suspended by the Met after several men accused him of sexually abusing them decades ago, when they were still teenagers. Now, I’m not sure I want to keep those sets so visible in my home.

    I feel heartache for the men, who say they were taken advantage of by someone they looked up to, someone in a position of intimidating authority. But how do Mr. Levine’s countless fans, and I as a critic, reconcile his legacy with what he’s been accused of? Is his work tainted beyond our ability to appreciate the artistry involved?

    People have asked me over the years whether I had heard talk about Mr. Levine’s private behavior. I had, but just vague rumors. I knew that reporters at The Times and other publications had done some investigating over the years and turned up nothing concrete.

    One time, though, I brought up his personal life with him in an on-the-record exchange. Reading that 1998 interview today, nearly 20 years later, his comments seem more revealing than they did then.

    At the time, his appointment as music director of the Munich Philharmonic had recently been announced. Some German tabloids had dropped innuendoes about his sexuality. In his office, I asked Mr. Levine how he was handling this and whether he still felt welcomed by the city of Munich. Would he finally address this talk head on, and open up about his very guarded personal life? (I was hoping that he might discuss being gay.)

    “I’ve never been able to speak in public generalities about my private life,” he said. “Day by day, my world is filled with real music, real people, real interactions,” implying that the rumors were simply fake.

    He refused to reply to all the speculation about his life. “How much do you have to give?” he asked, sounding almost plaintive. “How good do you have to be?” How good, in other words, before you are given a pass to keep your private life private?

    As we now know, he should never have gotten such a pass.

    What do we now do about the work he has left us? I attended Mr. Levine’s concert performance of Verdi’s Requiem at the Met on Saturday afternoon, a few hours before news about the accusations against him broke. He seemed to me a little burdened and looked a little tired. It’s entirely possible that Saturday’s lackluster performance will end up being Mr. Levine’s final appearance with the company.

    But I have just listened again to one of the recordings from the Levine commemorative box set, a 1980 performance of Berg’s “Wozzeck,” the staggering 20th-century masterpiece, with José van Dam in the title role. Mr. Levine was an inspired conductor of this music, drawing out the eerie beauties of Berg’s Expressionist score and revealing the profound human truths and compassion that run through this depressing tragedy. I can’t imagine not being moved by it always.

    And yet, immersing myself in Berg’s story of an impoverished, delusional soldier forced by superior officers to perform humiliating tasks for menial pay, a man driven to murder and self-destruction by feelings of powerlessness, I couldn’t help thinking about Mr. Levine’s accusers.

    So what do I do with these commemorative collections? I won’t give them away.

    But I’m going to move them out of my living room.
    BaronArtz likes this.
  4. BaronArtz

    BaronArtz Count

    Thank you, that is very well said.

    And to those of us who point the finger at Mr. Levine - isn't seeking sexual favors from young men something we all do? We seek them out, discuss them, hire them. How consensual is it really, in many cases? With the exception of career escorts, how many young men are out there, struggling to make ends meet, accepting to provide certain services for money or other benefits? How often are these encounters coerced? We are not that different from Mr. Levine. So let us not be hypocrites.

    I make an exception, of course, for acts involving minors. Those are inexcusable.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  5. Acts involving minors is exactly what Levine is accused of.
    Kenny, bigjoey and WilliamM like this.
  6. rogerG

    rogerG Master

    "Artists create their own moral universe" and certain art-loving communities are more accepting of this notion. "Turning a blind eye" is more prevalent among the super creative types and those who work with them.
  7. Kenny

    Kenny Duke

    Happily, and horrifyingly, you are presumably speaking for yourself. Not for “we.”
  8. bigjoey

    bigjoey Duke

    The same feeling (up until the last few days) seems to have been the feeling of members of Congress.
    quoththeraven likes this.
  9. gallahadesquire

    gallahadesquire Marquess

    Just turn them around so his name doesn't appear.

  10. sniper

    sniper Viscount

    It's more prevalent among the powerful in general. It's by no means unique to creatives.
    Kenny and WilliamM like this.
  11. That's not a world I want to live in.

    Also, it's not always true that the person you think is super-creative actually is. They may be relying heavily on someone else. An example might be a long-term editor, for a filmmaker or writer, or a spouse or assistant.

    This goes double for business people.

    I realize this doesn't apply to conductors.
  12. BaronArtz

    BaronArtz Count

    Thank you. I knew that.
  13. BaronArtz

    BaronArtz Count

    As usual, you entirely missed the point. Don't tell me you have never approached young men in bars, restrooms or on the internet.
  14. hornytwells

    hornytwells Count

  15. Kenny

    Kenny Duke

    I have never approached young men in restrooms or on the Internet. I haven’t approached young men in bars, where they are of legal age, in decades.

    And your post is about coercion, in which I have never engaged.
    quoththeraven likes this.
  16. Kenny

    Kenny Duke


    “James Lestock, 67, said on Thursday evening that he stood by his account.

    “He is lying,” he said of Mr. Levine’s statement in an email. “The examples of instigating sex with a minor, physical abuse using physical pain leading to break down crying, all happened. I will take a lie-detector test. Will he?”

    Mr. Lestock said that he was a 17-year-old cello student at Meadow Brook when he was abused in Mr. Levine’s dorm room. He described numerous later incidents of abuse; he said that once Mr. Levine had pinched him painfully until he cried, and then continued pinching him, to wound him.

    And Chris Brown, 66, who played principal bass in the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra for more than three decades, stood by his account that Mr. Levine had abused him the summer before his senior year in high school, when he was 17.

    “Sexual abuse at any age is inexcusable,” he said. “Further, belittling those of us who were abused as less than fully human is repugnant. I stand by the story.”
  17. BaronArtz

    BaronArtz Count

    Really ... what are you doing on a site like this one? This is ALL about obtaining services from desirable young men.
  18. BaronArtz

    BaronArtz Count

  19. sutherland

    sutherland Master

    The average age of the men I obtain services from is probably 34, some are even 40 years old. A middle-aged man who uses his renown or money to pressure an 18, 19 or 20 year old to have sex is a predator in my book. James Levine's denials make me dislike him even more. Also a lie detector test will, indeed, prove what happened or didn't happen 40 years ago
    Kenny and quoththeraven like this.
  20. After the rumors, the payouts and multiple witnesses, people are still going to act like Levine's word is worth something?

    The allegations paint a picture of a man attracted to high school students for whom he was an authority figure whom he abused physically as well as sexually. How is that not predatory?

    By imposing a "lalala I don't hear you" and "proof beyond a reasonable doubt standard" (or, given alleged payoffs to parents, a "buy silence to protect our meal ticket"), the Met appears to have enabled continuing abuse of minors in a manner not that different from the Catholic Church or, arguably, Michael Jackson.

    For an already-retired Levine to no longer be welcome at the Met is not some violation of his civil rights.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
    BigK, Kenny, Moondance and 2 others like this.