TV profile and book give a taste of Levine behind the scenes

Posted on: June 2, 2011

In Tuesday’s (5/31) Philadelphia Inquirer, David Patrick Stearns comments on new releases marking James Levine’s 40th Anniversary at the Metropolitan Opera. “On Wednesday, the American Masters profile, ‘James Levine: America’s Maestro,’ airs on PBS (WHYY TV12, 8 p.m.), while six area movie theaters host the Met’s encore simulcast of the Levine-conducted Die Walküre. Meanwhile, a coffee-table book, James Levine: 40 Years at the Metropolitan Opera (Amadeus Press, $32), draws on much of the interview material in the American Masters show, along with testimonials written by most of the greatest singers in the business. … Although the conductor is a ubiquitous presence on screen and disc, the backstage Levine is perhaps the most underdocumented musical artist of his stature.” In rehearsal footage from a recent Beethoven Symphony No. 5 performance at Carnegie Hall “seen in the American Masters profile, Levine cautions his musicians not to treat the world’s single most famous symphony as some distant cultural artifact. ‘The minute we stand back from it in any way,’ he says, ‘it’s gone.’ He is asking the players to somehow unlearn a significant part of their musical history.”

Posted June 2, 2011