NEW York’s Metropolitan Opera has said it will open an investigation into allegations that its long-time conductor sexually abused a man three decades ago, beginning when the man was a teenager.

James Levine’s accuser contacted the police department in Lake Forest, Illinois, in October last year to report that he had had sexual contact with the conductor when he was under the age of 18.

He said some of his encounters with Levine in the mid-1980s took place there. Levine served as music director at the Ravinia Festival, outside Chicago, from 1973 to 1993.

The opera house said in a statement: “At the time the allegations were made to police, Mr Levine said the charges were completely false, and we relied upon the further investigation of the police. We need to determine if these charges are true and, if they are, take appropriate action. We’ll now be conducting our own investigation with outside resources.”

There was no immediate response to an email to Levine’s manager seeking comment on the accusations.

The accuser contacted reporters from several news organisations and made a number of social media posts accusing Levine of having abused him.

Lake Forest police assigned a detective who spent at least seven months investigating the allegations, according to a redacted copy of her written reports on the case.

The man who has made the accusations said he had a relationship with Levine well into adulthood and that the composer gave him money over the years when he was having financial problems, amounting to more than $50,000 (£37,000). The man told police he last spoke to Levine in 2014. At the time, he said, Levine said he wouldn’t send him money any more.

Levine, who is among the most prominent classical music conductors in the world, served as music director of the Met from 1976 until 2016, when he assumed the position of music director emeritus.

He has struggled with health problems, including Parkinson’s disease, in recent years but is scheduled to conduct several productions this season.