James Levine Injures Back, Will Not Conduct Metropolitan Opera This Fall
James Levine has stepped away from his position as principal conductor with New York City's Metropolitan Opera after a back injury, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Levine, 68, underwent surgery on Thursday after damaging one of his vertebrae and was recuperating in Vermont, Met officials told the AP.
The conductor, who over four decades is credited with building the Met into an international powerhouse and was scheduled to begin rehearsals Tuesday, will be replaced by Italian conductor Fabio Luisi.
"While Jim's latest setback is hugely disappointing for all of us, he joins me in welcoming Fabio's larger role," said Met general manager Peter Gelb. "I am very pleased that Fabio was able to rearrange his fall schedule, and I appreciate the understanding of those companies with whom he was scheduled to conduct."
Luisi, 52, has stepped in in the past for Levine, a Cincinnati native, who has had a series of health problems in recent years. These include surgeries to address his spinal stenosis. He has also had a rotator cuff and a kidney removed that had developed a cancerous tumor. He was recuperating from back surgeries in May and July when the accident happened.
Levine is expected to return to the Met in January for the new production of Wagner's "Goetterdaemmerung," the company said.