A performer was killed during an opera at Moscow’s famous Bolshoi Theatre on Saturday in an accident that occurred during a scene change, the theater said.
Videos circulating online appeared to show performers shouting “Stop!” and pleading with staff to lift the backdrop and call an ambulance. The orchestra stopped playing and several performers ran to the back of the stage before the curtains were drawn.
“The opera was immediately stopped and the audience was asked to leave,” the theater said in comments carried by the Interfax news agency.
Local media outlets reported that audience members appeared to think that the onstage panic was part of the performance and were unaware that someone had died.
The man had reportedly been with the company since 2002 as part of a 50-person group of Bolshoi employees who served as onstage extras.
He was not identified by authorities, but the Tass news agency named him as Yevgeny Kulesh, citing an unnamed law enforcement official.
It is not the first time tragedy has struck the renowned theater, home to one of Russia’s most famous ballet and opera companies.
A senior violinist died in 2013 after falling into the orchestra pit. Viktor Sedov, 65, had played violin for the Moscow theater’s ballet and opera productions for almost four decades, and was reportedly known for his sense of humor and “extraordinary” erudition.
That same year, ballet soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko was ordered jailed for six years by a Moscow court for his role in a brutal acid attack on the company’s artistic director, Sergei Filin, that left him almost blind. Dmitrichenko had reportedly admitted he wanted Filin “roughed up” but had denied wanting acid thrown into his face, in a case that revealed bitter rivalries and infighting at the theater.