for quite some time. Still, it’s a huge announcement.
THE METROPOLITAN OPERA announced today that James Levine, the company’s music director since 1976, will retire at the end of the company’s current season owing to health reasons.
Capping an historic tenure of more than four decades that saw Levine conduct more than 2,500 performances of no fewer than eighty-five different operas—far exceeding any conductor in Metropolitan Opera history—the maestro will assume the new position of Music Director Emeritus next season, the Met announced. Levine will continue as the artistic leader of the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, and will still conduct some Met performances, but today’s announcement acknowledged the degree to which the progression of Levine’s Parkinson’s disease had made “it increasingly difficult for him to conduct a full schedule of Met performances.” Levine has struggled in recent years with the symptoms of the disease as well as other health issues, including kidney cancer and a spinal injury that left him partially paralyzed and resulted in his withdrawal from performances during the company’s 2011-12 season as well as the cancellation of appearances during the 2012-13 season. This season, Levine withdrew from the company’s new production of Lulu, opting to shepherd his resources in preparation for the company’s revival of Tannhäuser.