The company's general manager, Peter Gelb, announced Friday that the extended break would allow the Met's longtime chief conductor to recover from a spinal injury he suffered in August during a fall. Levine underwent emergency surgery and has been hospitalized the past three months for rehabilitation and intense physical therapy.
He expects to return to his Manhattan home next week, but Gelb says doctors expect full recovery for the 68-year-old musician to be a long-term process.
While he may be ready to conduct before the end of next season, the Met must meanwhile hire replacements.
Levine hopes to resume his other duties sooner, including coaching and artistic planning.