James Levine has led the Metropolitan Opera through four decades, but all great things must come to an end. (Courtesy Metropolitan Opera)
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A giant is stepping down in New York. James Levine, who has led the Metropolitan Opera with style and grace for four decades, is relinquishing the title music director title of the cultural mainstay and will assume the role of music director emeritus. Levine has suffered from poor health in recent years. Here’s an excerpt from a New York Times article on the announcement:
His retirement marks the end of an era for the Met — and for New York City cultural history. When Mr. Levine became music director, in 1976, Gerald R. Ford was the president, Abraham Beame was mayor, and Reggie Jackson was just deciding to join the Yankees. Since his Met debut in 1971, Mr. Levine has conducted more than 2,500 performances with the company, a dedication to an institution rare in an age of jet-setting maestros.
If you are not familiar with Levine’s work and passion, here’s a glimpse of of the maestro, courtesy of American Masters. I attended a number of performances that Levine conducted, and their power and musicality stay with me still. Long live the maestro!
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