Boston Symphony Orchestra music director James Levine will miss the remainder of this summer’s season at Tanglewood to have a kidney removed. His condition, due to a cyst “causing pressure and discomfort,” will require six weeks of recuperation, with Levine hoping to be ready to conduct the BSO’s season opening at Symphony Hall in the fall, the BSO said in a press release today.
The BSO said that the Tanglewood schedule, which calls for Levine to conduct eight more concerts and mentor the Tanglewood Music Center Fellows, will continue as planned. The BSO will announce guest conductors when they’re lined up.
Levine was not available for comment, the BSO said. But in a statement, he said:
“It is extremely frustrating that I need to have this surgery now. My projects at Tanglewood have been planned so carefully and coordinated in such detail by the Festival administration. I especially regret not being here with Elliott Carter for his 100th birthday celebration, which I was looking forward to more than I can say. And I’m very disappointed at having to miss concerts with my colleagues in the BSO, as well as my work with the young musicians of the Tanglewood Music Center.”
Also in the statement, Mark Volpe, the BSO’s managing director, said he was disappointed that Levine had to leave Tanglewood this summer.
“However, we are primarily concerned for Jim’s health and well-being, and that everything be done to ensure a complete recovery so that he returns as soon as possible to his musical life with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera.”
This makes the latest in a series of health setbacks for the 65-year-old Levine, who left the Berkshires abruptly this week after completing a busy opening weekend at the BSO’s summer home.
Long struggling with his weight, the music director also must deal with sciatica and occasional hand tremors. He has taken to conducting from a seat to ease pressure on his back.
Levine, who has been conducting at the Metropolitan Opera since 1971 and took over as BSO music director in 2004, fell onstage during a Symphony Hall concert in March of 2006. He needed rotator cuff surgery, which forced him to miss four months of performances with the BSO and the Met. He returned that summer to Tanglewood after losing 35 pounds thanks to what he said was a changed diet and exercise on a recumbent bicycle and through Pilates.
(By Geoff Edgers, Globe staff)