Artistic Director Dismissed from Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro

American conductor Ira Levin was recently dismissed from the organization

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Levin's tenure as conductor with Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro started in 2019 and he was later appointed its Artistic Director in August 2020. During this time, he led the ensemble through the pandemic, planning home videos and filmings.

According to Brazilian news outlets, the collaboration between Levin and the organization was made more difficult due to the pandemic and the fact that Levin was away from Rio de Janeiro, leading other orchestras.

The president of the Theatro Municipal released a statement saying, "The State Secretariat for Culture and Creative Economy of Rio de Janeiro (Sececrj) and the Municipal Theatro Foundation inform that the artistic director and principal conductor Ira Levin is no longer part of the Municipal's staff."

No reasons for the termination were given in the statement and it continued with, "Ira Levin was a professional who contributed a lot during his time at Theatro."

According to Concerto.com, a committee of some of the orchestral musicians requested a meeting with the president and expressed their complaints after a concert in December.

One of the members said, "We were all very uncomfortable with the conductor's conduct and unhappy with the chosen program. This was reflected in the result."

Ira Levin told The Violin Channel, however, that his termination was after a concert in which "they [the orchestra] arrived totally unprepared for."

The chosen program consisted of Mahler-Schoenberg's "Gesellen Lieder," the last two movements of the Schoenberg's Op. 10 quartet, the "Scherzo" and "Lento" of Beethoven’s Quartet Op. 135, and Levin's own arrangement for string orchestra of Schubert's "Lebenstuerme" D. 947.

During rehearsals, "They were not happy on day three [of five rehearsals] when I asked them out of respect for Beethoven and the music to please practice for heaven’s sake," said Levin.

At the concert, Levin explained that he was asked to go back on stage in front of the live audience and do parts of the Schubert again for a recording, a request he refused.

The Monday afterward, he got the call that he was no longer part of the organization.

"There had been no official complaints from the musician’s committee or union about me or any behavior of mine in two years, which is always the first step in such cases," Levin told the Violin Channel. "Even a serial-killer gets a trial, no?"