Conductor James Levine made a triumphant return to the stage Sunday, trying to put to rest many questions about his abilities and his future with the Metropolitan Opera's orchestra. NY1's Stephanie Simon filed the following report.
It was the most anticipated standing ovation this season. In a wheelchair Conductor James Levine was raised above the Carnegie Hall stage Sunday marking his first performance since a bad fall two years ago.
Clapping and cheering punctuated the entire concert. Afterwards, Levine spoke with NY1 exclusively.
"I'm so happy to be with them again and it's kind of miraculous. It took a lot of therapists and doctors and rehab but it's going wonderfully well," says Levine.
Levine is scheduled to lead three operas and three concerts next season. He is confident he is up for the task.
"There isn't any doubt that's certainly what I should do and if it goes well we can increase," says Levine.
On the bill: Wagner, Beethoven and Schubert. But for many it was simply about the return of a New York music icon, the man who has led the Met orchestra for 40 years. And the delight of being part of a highly unusual standing ovation before the concert.
"It was the most exciting. I mean, just the standing ovation. That never happens," said one audience member.
"I'm so excited that he is back," said another audience member.
Musicians who spoke with NY1 off camera said Levine was 100 percent in rehearsals leading up to the concert. He was in great spirits and bursting with energy. Their only concern was how long would the the standing ovations last.
"It's like we can speak for each other. It's like they're my voice and I'm their voice," says Levine.
Sunday was the last performance of the orchestra's season. But there will surely be equal if not more fanfare when Levine returns to the Metropolitan Opera House to lead the entire opera in the fall.
Web Extra: Levine Full Extended Interview
NY1: Famed Met Conductor Levine Returns To Standing Ovation
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