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New York's Metropolitan Opera has terminated its relationship with music director emeritus James Levine after an independent investigation found "credible evidence" the conductor had "engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct both before and during the period when he worked at the Met". The company says "it would be inappropriate and impossible for Mr. Levine to continue to work at the Met".

The Met opened an investigation previous year into James Levine, following reports that he abused a teenage boy decades ago. In his absence, Dallas Opera music director Emmanuel Villaume directed seven Met performances of Puccini's Tosca.

He was revered by the Met's orchestra, board and patrons during a reign as chief conductor (1973-76), music director (1976-86 and 2004-16) and artistic director (1986-2004).

At the time, the Met indicated that there were multiple allegations against Levine.

Even before the accusations, the Met had been moving toward a post-Levine era.

The Met said in its statement that it had ended its relationship with Levine because of his sexually harassing and abusive conduct over decades.

It has brought forward the appointment of Levine's successor, youthful French Canadian Yannick Nezet-Seguin, who will become music director with the upcoming season.

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The statement said rumors that opera's board of directors were involved in a cover-up were "completely unsubstantiated".

The conductor in an earlier statement called the allegations against him "unfounded", saying he was not an "oppressor or an aggressor".

James Levine, whose 46-year career at the Metropolitan Opera established him as a towering figure in classical music, was sacked by the company on Monday after an investigation found evidence of sexual abuse and harassment.

The Met, which like many major United States music institutions has a constant challenge of shoring up its finances, has acted quickly to move past the taint of Levine. He said that at one point Levine had the group don blindfolds and masturbate partners they could not see.

The New York Times subsequently reported similar accounts from two other men accusing Levine of sexual misconduct.

Ashok Pai said he had been abused by Levine for years, beginning in 1986 near the Ravinia Festival in IL, when he was 16. He became music director emeritus and remained head of its young artists program but was suspended on December 3 after accounts in the New York Post and The New York Times of sexual misconduct dating to the 1960s. Three decades later - after, Pai said, therapy had helped him realize how destructive those encounters had been - he detailed his accusations in the fall of 2016 to the Lake Forest Police Department in IL. Met officials said they were launching an investigation.