| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Oct 12 Metropolitan Opera music
director James Levine will return to the conducting podium in
May 2013 - initially in a wheelchair - after a fall more than a
year ago that left him partially paralyzed, the New York opera
house said on Friday.
Levine, 69, who has been the Met's music director since
1976, will conduct the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra at Carnegie
Hall in May 2013, before leading three operas during the Met's
2013-14 season, the Met said in a statement.
Met General Manager Peter Gelb called Levine's return to
conducting "great news for opera lovers throughout the world,"
while Levine said: "I'm looking forward more than I can say to
getting back to work."
Levine has been in long-term rehabilitation since injuring
his spine in a fall while on vacation in August 2011 that
required surgery and left him partially paralyzed.
While his upper body strength has returned, his injuries
have left him temporarily unable to walk.
The Met said that for the time being, he will conduct from a
motorized wheelchair. In anticipation of Levine's return, the
Met's technical department is designing customized, elevating
podiums that will be utilized on the Carnegie Hall stage and in
the Met's orchestra pit.
Levine referred to the "long healing process" from his spine
injury, but said he feels better with each passing day.
For the 2013-14 season, Levine is scheduled to conduct a new
production of Verdi's "Falstaff" and revivals of Mozart's "Cosi
fan tutte" and Berg's "Wozzeck."
The Met said that in recent weeks, Levine has gradually been
taking on more of his duties as music director, including
coaching members of the organization's young artist development
program and holding artistic planning sessions.
His physician, Dr. Len Horovitz, who coordinates his medical
team, said Levine was "an inspirational case, whose return to
conducting will be a result of remarkable perseverance and hard
Levine made his debut with the company in 1971 and has
conducted 2,441 performances there, more than anyone in the
company's 129-year history. His last performance as a conductor
was of Wagner's "Die Walküre" on May 14, 2011.
(Reporting By Ellen Freilich; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Eric