youre-tearing-me-apartSo, if you wondering when the spit is going to hit the fan (to quote another great ’50s teen angst opus), well, the date you’re looking for is October 9, 2010. Why is that date so special or unusual, you ask? Well, for the currently ailing James Levine, it’s the day he’s supposed to be in two places at more or less the same time.  

At 1:00 PM, the maestro is scheduled to conduct Das Rheingold at the Met, a performance that will be simulcast in HD. Then, at 8:00 PM, this same maestro is supposed to lead the Mahler Resurrection symphony for, you guessed it, the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

That’s the Boston Symphony Orchestra that’s in Boston, you know, four hours from New York by car or train, or an hour and a quarter by air?

Well, car and train are out, surely. With split-second coordination a car could be waiting at the stage door at 4:00 to whisk Levine to LaGuardia for a 5:00 flight to Boston Logan, arriving if all goes well 6:15, then a quick rush through traffic to Symphony Hall, a shower and a change of clothes… Or else, maybe a private jet and a helicopter…

No, wait. Why are we even discussing this insanity? This sort of multi-city marathon is a feat that perhaps a 35 year old in perfect health might pull off, in an emergency: you know, like if the regular conductor of the Boston Symphony fell ill, and nobody else knew the work.

But none of that applies here. Rather, we have a man approaching 70, in very poor health, who had to cancel more than half his engagements last season. And, yet, for some reason that might make sense to a madman, his management (with the cooperation of the Met and the BSO) has deliberately booked this frail fellow for (ironically) back to back performances of two difficult works in different cities. On the same day, let’s not forget.

Now, in case you’re thinking, oh, this is just an oversight or a typo or something, let’s take a look at the schedule of Levine’s performances (i.e., not counting rehearsals) for the period of just over two weeks at the beginning of the season.

  • September 27 Met (Opening night)
  • September 30 Met
  • October 2 BSO (Opening night)
  • October 4 Met
  • October 7  (morning) AM BSO
  • October 7  BSO
  • October 8  (matinee) BSO
  • October 9 (matinee) Met
  • October 9  (evening) BSO
  • October 12  BSO

So, obviously, somebody involved here, most likely everybody involved here, is full of shit. And La Cieca is going on record saying that all of them deserve to have it blow up in their fucking faces.