Conductor has been battling injury and illness for two years, but has at last made his triumphant return
It’s been two long years since James Levine conducted an orchestra, but after a time plagued my injuries and illness, the 69 year-old made his return to the podium at the weekend to conduct the Metropolitan Opera orchestra at Carnegie Hall. That’s no low key comeback by any stretch.
Levine is certainly not out of the woods yet; he returned to conducting from the confines of a wheelchair, according to the Los Angeles Times, but it was just enough to have a man who has been battling the odds for some time now. He received a minute-long standing ovation from a sell-out audience and conducted the prelude to Act I of Wagner's 'Lohengrin,' Schubert's Symphony No. 9 and Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4, with soloist Evgeny Kissin.
Levine stepped down as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2011, with Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons replacing him. The reason is that Levine has had lots of surgery, largely on his back. He suffered a major fall in 2011 that left him partially paralyzed and unable to walk. He’d already had one of his kidneys removed, in 2008. Now that he’s back, it’s hoped that Levine will conduct three productions next season at the Metropolitan Opera: Verdi's ‘Falstaff,’ Mozart's ‘Cosi fan tutte’ and Alban Berg's ‘Wozzeck.’ While he’s been away from the Metropolitan Opera, Fabio Luisi, the company's principal conductor, has filled in for Levine on a number of occasions.