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American Masters: James Levine: America’s Maestro

Airs Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Met Opera Music Director James Levine circa late 1970s.

A Timeline of Levine's Career

Since his Met debut in 1971, Maestro James Levine has collaborated with countless great singers, expanded the Met repertory in extraordinary ways, and launched the MET Orchestra’s annual concert series at Carnegie Hall, among other major milestones. Explore a few of the highlights of his unparalleled Met career.

Metropolitan Opera Music Director James Levine
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Above: Metropolitan Opera Music Director James Levine

To celebrate his 40th anniversary at the Metropolitan Opera, Maestro James Levine’s life and current work is the subject of a documentary film that captures the essence of his unparalleled musicianship and his singular teaching and performance style, while looking back at creative milestones since his Met debut with "Tosca" in 1971 at the age of 28.

Award-winning filmmaker Susan Froemke follows Levine during coaching sessions, rehearsals and performances at the world’s leading opera house.

Included in the film are intimate scenes between the maestro and longtime collaborator Plácido Domingo as they rehearse Verdi’s "Simon Boccanegra;" intense rehearsals with the MET Orchestra as they prepare for their first performance of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony at Carnegie Hall; and Levine’s poignant coaching sessions with aspiring young singers preparing to launch their careers.

Altogether the film provides a revealing portrait of one of classical music’s giants, exploring how Levine transformed the Met’s orchestra into one of the great ensembles, elicited legendary performances from leading singers and nurtured new generations of artists.


James Levine Conducts Simon Boccanegra

Watch the full episode. See more American Masters.

Above: In this clip from "James Levine: America’s Maestro," hear a story from David Langlitz, the Principal Trombone for the Met Orchestra, that illuminates Levine’s unique sensitivity to sound and watch Levine conduct a dress rehearsal of Simon Boccanegra with Placido Domingo.


James Levine Conducts Beethoven's Symphony No. 5

Watch the full episode. See more American Masters.

Above: In this clip from "James Levine: America’s Maestro," Levine conducts the Met Opera Orchestra in their first rehearsal of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 at Carnegie Hall and engages the orchestra with his unique style of direction.


Layla Claire Rehearses With James Levine

Watch the full episode. See more American Masters.

Above: In this clip from "James Levine: America’s Maestro," watch Maestro Levine rehearse with and give advice to the young artist Layla Claire in List Hall.

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