Saturday, April 17, 2021

James Levine, former Met Opera Maestro, is dead at 77

From the beginning, his association with the Met was a perfect combination of musician, art form and institution. A few weeks ago at the age of 29, he made his debut on June 5, 1971 in Pucci’s “Tosca”, a matinee for which he had no stage rehearsals with the Stars cast, headed by Grace Bambari to Tosca and Franco Corelli did as Caverdossi. Performance review, Alan Hughes of The New York Times wrote that Mr. Levine “may be one of Metropolitan’s best podium acquisitions in a while.”

In 1973, Mr. Levine was named the company’s principal conductor, the first person to hold that position. The following year, with the departure of Rafael Kubelik, who had a brief and uneasy stint as music director, Mr. Levine held the position and had 2,552 performances, more than any other conductor in its history. settled for. – Producing an extensive catalog of recordings and videos, as well as some historical met productions. He confidently led both early Mozart and thorny Schoenbergs, and he brought works such as Berg’s “Wozzeck” from the outskirts to the center of the company’s reserves.

At 5 feet 10 inches, with a round face, without curly mane and partially built, Mr. Levine did not cut the figure of a charismatic maestro. His father had undressed him to lose weight, get his haircut and contact lenses, but Mr. Levine faltered.

“I said that I would make myself such a contrast to the great profile that I would have the satisfaction of knowing that I am engaged because I am a musician, and not because women are snapping in the first balcony,” 1983 of Time magazine The cover article stated. In fact, Mr. Levine expanded the public perception of what a conductor should be and, through dozens of “Live from the Met” broadcasts on public television, became one of the most recognized classical composers of his time, even That Screen Sharing with Mickey Mouse Disney’s “Phantasia in 2000.”

He was neither a podium acrobat like Leonard Bernstein nor a Zimmed technician like Z. His actions were nimble but never mind-boggling. He encouraged the orchestra players to see his face, who were smiling with joy when things were going right and indicated an alert when called. “Give me some eyes” was his frequent request.

Some critics said that Mr. Levine’s work lacked an identifiable character. Although his interpretive approach, even in matters as basic as Tempo’s, had clearly fluctuated throughout his career, some of the qualities were consistent. His performances were clear, rhythmically rigid without being hard-drive, and finely structured, while still allowing the melodic lines to breathe adequately. Surprisingly given her immersion in the opera, she had a keen sense of drama that took her into sympathetic literature accounts. Above all, Mr. Levine was inherently valuable, feeling nothing, whether a stormy outbreak at the Wagner opera, or a provocative passage of the Mähler Symphony.

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