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Is James Levine Overextended?

Posted at 6:12 PM on October 4, 2009 by Gillian Martin
Filed under: Musician stories

Last week, conductor James Levine announced that he had to withdraw from several high-profile performances over the next few weeks. He needed surgery for a herniated disc in his back.

But the show must go on--and that left Levine's main employers, the Metropolitan Opera and the Boston Symphony, scrambling for substitutes.

At the BSO, assistant conductors Shi-Yeon Sung and Julian Kuerti stepped in to conduct last week's concerts at Symphony Hall. Daniele Gatti had a full two days' notice when he agreed to lead the BSO in their gala concert to open Carnegie Hall's season.

At the Met, former Minnesota Orchestra music director Edo de Waart will take over Levine's scheduled performances of Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier later this month.

This medical leave is Mr. Levine's third in five years, which has some wondering if he's simply doing too much. Jeremy Eichler of the Boston Globe examines the issue here.