James Levine injured in fall; Met Opera names new conductor

It's happened again. Poor James Levine can't catch a health break. The Metropolitan Opera revealed Tuesday that Levine underwent emergency surgery Thursday after falling in Vermont and damaging one of his vertebrae. He had been recuperating from previous surgery on his back when the accident occurred.

Levine has withdrawn from all of his fall performances with the Met, and Fabio Luisi will take his place. The Met has signified Luisi's increasing importance to the company by giving him the more expansive title of principal conductor. Luisi had been principal guest conductor; Levine retains his music director title.

“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 in a prepared statement. “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 canceled performances with the Rome Opera, the Genoa Opera, the Vienna Symphony, and the San Francisco Symphony to take up Levine's Met dates.

Levine hopes to return in January for the new production of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, as well as for the full cycles of Der Ring des Nibelungen in April and May, the Met says.