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“James Levine: 40 Years at The Metropolitan Opera,“ a Celebration of the Maestro’s Four Decades of Musical Leadership, to be Published by Amadeus Press on May 3, 2011

March 8, 2011

New York, NY (March 8, 2011)James Levine: 40 Years at The Metropolitan Opera,   an extraordinary insider’s view of the legendary conductor’s Met career, illustrated with vivid historic photographs, will be published by Amadeus Press, an imprint of Hal Leonard, on May 3, and available for $32 at the Met Opera Shop and national retailers.  Marking the 40th anniversary of Met Music Director James Levine’s company debut on June 5, 1971, the book celebrates his unparalleled artistic achievements through commentary by the maestro himself, as well as anecdotes and tributes from many of the great artists who have performed with him. 

In James Levine: 40 Years at The Metropolitan Opera, readers will be taken behind the scenes as Levine shares his many artistic triumphs, the singular low point of his career in 1980, and challenges he has faced over four decades at the Met, including introducing works to the Met repertoire and developing the company’s orchestra and chorus. He reminisces about remarkable moments such as the phone call from tenor Richard Tucker minutes before his debut (“Jim, it’s Richard. Knock ’em dead.”), Kiri Te Kanawa’s transformation from unknown to star in her debut, the unforgettable farewell performance of Leontyne Price, and the historic prank Levine played on the great Luciano Pavarotti – in full view of the Met audience.

Some of opera’s most illustrious stars contribute personal stories and recollections. Martina Arroyo, Stephanie Blythe, Natalie Dessay, Renée Fleming, Mirella Freni, Marilyn Horne, Sherrill Milnes, James Morris, Jessye Norman, René Pape, Renata Scotto, Teresa Stratas, Frederica von Stade, and many others relive first encounters with the maestro and look back on their musical partnerships.  In a special essay, Plácido Domingo details the friendship and incomparable artistic collaboration he has shared with Levine for over 40 years. Conductors Daniel Barenboim and Pierre Boulez comment on working with the Met’s unrivaled orchestra.  Director Franco Zeffirelli explains why he “would jump out of bed at midnight to go work with Jimmy,” while Otto Schenk shares the secrets of their long and successful association.  All of these colorful accounts are complemented by images of performances, rehearsals, curtain calls, and backstage moments. 

“For 40 years at the Met, Maestro Levine has been enveloping artists with his energy and warmth,” said Met General Manager Peter Gelb, who has worked closely with Levine for almost 25 years and contributes the book’s foreword.  “This book overflows with their loving tributes and offers a revealing look at the man behind the music.  It is immediately clear that Jim is not only one of the true conducting legends of all time, but also the most beloved.” 

Critical essays from Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Martin Bernheimer, notable music historian Harvey Sachs, former Boston Globe critic Richard Dyer, and Provost and Dean of The Juilliard School Ara Guzelimian explore Levine’s artistry and how he has expanded the Met’s repertory and elevated its musical forces.  Special sections reflect on Levine’s achievements behind the scenes at the Met—including nurturing the next generation of stars with the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and his own virtuosic musicianship on the piano.

Essential reading for all lovers of opera and classical music, the book provides a generous glimpse into the backstage workings of the world’s busiest opera company, a revealing exploration of the art form, and an intimate portrait of one of opera’s artistic giants. 

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