James Levine withdraws from The Met until 2013

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Conductor pulls out of performances for next season

Conductor James Levine has withdrawn from the Metropolitan Opera’s 2012-13 season following continuing health problems. Levine, who has been the Met’s music director for over 35 years, injured his back last summer when he was recovering from three operations for stenosis, a painful spinal condition.

The conductor announced earlier this year that he was pulling out of the Met’s 2011-12 season, including a production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle in spring next year. This will be the first season since 1971 that the conductor hasn’t been in the pit at the New York opera house.

In a statement the conductor said: ‘I do not want to risk having to withdraw from performances after the season has been announced and tickets sold. With that in mind, I have reluctantly decided not to schedule performances until I am certain I can fulfill such obligations.’

Fabio Luisi, the Met’s principal conductor, will be taking over many of Levine’s commitments – with the exception of two performances in May for which a replacement is being sought.

Levine also resigned from his post as music director at the Boston Symphony Orchestra in September. He is, however, planning to return to some of his non-conducting duties at the Met, including leading the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.

Sophia Lambton