James Levine has pulled out of further performances at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and his surprise replacement for one of the productions – Das Rheingold – is Fabio Luisi. It is a surprise for two reasons: firstly, Luisi is not known as a Wagner specialist, and secondly he is already booked for the nights of the two performances to conduct Aida at the Royal Opera in London.
The improbable arrangement is likely to fuel speculation about moves to find a successor for Levine as Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera. He recently stood down as Music Director of the Boston Symphony on health grounds, and he has also cancelled the majority of his planned appearances with the Met for this season. Levine's other cancellation at the Met, La Traviata, will now be covered by Marco Armiliato. Meanwhile, Aida at Covent Garden will be conducted by Daniele Rustioni.