Mr. Levine’s effect on Met history can hardly be overstated. He transformed the orchestra from a second-rate pit band to one of the finest in the world; conducted several generations of opera’s leading singers; and helped the Met maintain, and build on, its international reputation. He became the company’s artistic director in 1986 and held that post for nearly two decades, and was lauded for conducting the core Italian repertory as well as works by Wagner and Mozart, and for championing key 20th-century operas by Berg and Stravinsky, several of which he brought to the Met for the first time.
Through his struggles he has remained an audience favorite, receiving a lengthy ovation earlier this month at a performance of Verdi’s “Simon Boccanegra” before the orchestra had even played a note.
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