12/09/2011 07:53 pm ET

James Levine, Met Music Director Cancels For 2012-2013 Season

NEW YORK — The music director of New York's Metropolitan Opera will take a break from conducting for the rest of the company's current season and the 2012-2013 season.

The company's general manager, Peter Gelb, announced Friday the hiatus would allow James Levine to recover from a spinal injury he suffered in August during a fall. The Met's longtime chief conductor underwent emergency surgery and has been hospitalized the past three months.

He expects to return to his Manhattan home next week, but Gelb says doctors expect full recovery for the 67-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.

It was previously announced that Levine had cancelled his fall performances due to his surgery. Fabio Luisi, who made his Met debut in 2005 with a performance of "Don Carlo," stepped in as principal conductor for the Met. Luisi cancelled appearances with the Rome Opera, the Genoa Opera, the Vienna Symphony, and the San Francisco Symphony to accommodate the change.

At that point, Levine hoped to recover in time for the Met's performance of Wagner's "Gotterdammerung" in January.

According to the New York Times, Luisi will take over most performances, excluding two dates: "a May 9 'Siegfried' and a May 12 'Gotterdammerung,' for which replacements are being sought, "along with productions next season that had been planned for Mr. Levine and a May 20 concert by the Met Orchestra at Carnegie Hall."

Levine hopes to resume his other duties sooner, including coaching and artistic planning.

Watch Levine conduct the overture to "Don Giovanni" below: