Metropolitan Opera's James Levine Withdraws From Fall Season Due to Health Issues

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James Levine, right, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra

The opera house's music director damaged a vertebra during a fall while on a recent vacation.

Metropolitan Opera music director James Levine has withdrawn from the New York opera house's fall season, citing health problems.

The decision comes due to a fall Levine took while on a recent vacation in Vermont, which left him with a damaged vertebra, according to the New York Times. Levine, who will remain music director at the Met, had emergency surgery Thursday to repair the vertebra.

“I don’t think there’s anybody who’s more frustrated and upset than he is,” Met GM Peter Gelb told the Times. “Obviously, it’s very disappointing for everybody in the company.”

In the meantime, principal guest conductor Fabio Luisi has been upped to principal conductor and will take over most of Levin's fall performances, including a new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, opening on Oct. 13, and the third installment of a Ring cycle, Siegfried, on Oct. 27.

This is the latest in a line of health problems -- including an injured rotator cuff, the removal of a kidney due to a cancerous tumor and two back operations -- that have forced Levine to withdraw from performances over the past several years. Earlier this year, he left the Boston Symphony, where he was the music director, because of a back operation.

The news comes a day after the death of famed Italian opera singer Salvatore Licitra, who has performed at the Met.

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