The Metropolitan Opera continued to grapple on Thursday with the suspension of its music director emeritus, James Levine, while it investigates accusations of sexual abuse against him, naming his replacements in two more operas and trying to reassure some of the company’s core supporters.
At a long-scheduled Metropolitan Opera Guild luncheon — where dozens of tables of opera patrons and several generations of Met stars had gathered to pay tribute to the soprano Renée Fleming — the company’s general manager, Peter Gelb, alluded to the crisis.
“As everyone in this room knows, the Met has recently been facing a very painful and challenging trial,” he told the guests who had gathered at Cipriani 42nd Street. “But while the Metropolitan Opera has been shaken, it still stands strong.”
Mr. Levine — who was the Met’s music director for four decades, and the honoree at the Guild’s luncheon four years ago — was suspended by the Met on Sunday after four men accused him of sexually abusing them decades ago, when they were either teenagers or students of his. The Met appointed Robert J. Cleary, a partner at the Proskauer Rose law firm, to investigate the accusations as it weighs Mr. Levine’s future.
Mr. Gelb never mentioned Mr. Levine by name at the lunch. But he emphasized that the Met was greater than any one individual, and spoke of the trials it survived in the past, including a disastrous fire in 1892 and the recession of 2008.
“The Met’s greatness is a collective effort,” he said. “It’s the grand result of thousands of artists and artisans who create operatic magic on our stage and in the pit night after night, season after season, and decade after decade. ”
The company separately announced two more replacements for Mr. Levine in the remaining operas he was scheduled to conduct this season. Marco Armiliato will conduct the upcoming production of Verdi’s “Il Trovatore,” and Bertrand de Billy will lead Verdi’s “Luisa Miller.”
The Opera Guild supports the Met and a variety of outreach and educational initiatives, and the room at lunch on Thursday was filled with its supporters, who mingled with Met stars of the past and present including Marilyn Horne, Teresa Stratas, Martina Arroyo, Jamie Barton and Joseph Calleja.
In his address to them all, Mr. Gelb invoked the words of another famous Met diva, Leontyne Price: “Trust me, my dear, the Met will endure.”