Despite Medication Change, James Levine's Met Opera Tenure Still Uncertain

By Ian Holubiak on Feb 16, 2016 12:52 AM EST

The Metropolitan Opera's beloved conductor, James Levine, has had a tumultuous battle with Parkinson's disease, which has hindered his abilities to continue with the company. With tenure of four decades, and despite doctors claiming a change in medication could help curb his symptoms, Levine's future with the orchestra remains uncertain.

The decision for Mr. Levine to stay or retire has divided the orchestra, with some believing the renowned conductor should make his leave gracefully--and with others thinking its his duty to continue for as long as possible.

David Frye, chairman of the Met's chorus committee said, "Certainly, the performers are hopeful that this transition will go with dignity for Jimmy. But we see that it's time for the transition to take place."

Of course the decision is difficult for Levine's loyal orchestra. Even Fred Schwarz at National Review commented on Levine's presence as a mainstay at the company, "I can't comment on Levine's health or his physical ability to do his job, but for this difficult opera, at least, there's no one I'd rather hear conduct it than him."

Earlier this month, the Met's general manager Peter Gelb and Mr, Levine spoke with a neurologist that said with a change in the conductor's current intake of medication, his symptoms could be alleviated. But, for the 72-year-old Levine, a severe spinal injury already proved the frailty of the conductor as he enters his old age.

Levine, also, was forced to cancel an engagement with the Philadelphia Orchestra in an engagement from Feb. 18-20 due to his illness. In his absence, Michael Tilson will substitute in.

It's an unfortunate set of circumstances for Mr. Levine, but with a longstanding career of 40 years, it's no wonder that the conductor's retirement is met with controversy.

For now, preview Mr. Levine in an earlier program below.

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TagsMetropolitan Opera, James Levine, Peter Gelb

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