Performer crushed to death in freak accident during opera

·2-min read

A Russian performer was fatally crushed during an opera at Moscow's famous Bolshoi Theatre on the weekend, shocking horrified audience members.

Yevgeny Kulesh, 38, was performing on Saturday (local time) when he was trapped underneath a backdrop that fell on him during a set change.

Tragically, the other singers and orchestra members were unaware of what was happening behind them and continued in the opera, with some of audience believing it was part of the performance.

A photo of the famous Bolshoi threatre in Moscow, Russia at night.
Opera singer Yevgeny Kulesh tragically died on stage at Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre. Source: TASS/Sipa USA via AAP.

Mr Kulesh was performing in Sadko, an opera by Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov when the accident occurred.

A clip posted online showed the backdrop being lowered onto the stage as the performers continue on stage. A few seconds after the set-piece has been put in place, a man stands up motioning with his hands to bring it back up and yelling in Russian. 

The music then abruptly cuts off and members of the cast start screaming.

According to a report from the BBC, tragedy struck when Mr Kulesh went in the wrong direction during the descent of a backdrop and was trapped under it.

Not the first accident at the Bolshoi Theatre

The Interfax news agency reported the Bolshoi Theatre released a statement following the accident saying they ceased the performance as soon as they realised what had happened. 

"The opera was immediately stopped and the audience was asked to leave," it said.

Yevgeny Kulesh was tragically killed on stage on Saturday during a performance.  Source: Twitter
Yevgeny Kulesh was tragically killed on stage on Saturday during a performance. Source: Twitter

Tragedy also struck the theatre in 2013 when a violinist, who had played at the opera house for 40 years, died after falling into the orchestra pit. 

A former dancer at the Bolshoi told a local Russian newspaper Komsomolkaya Pravda that the conditions of the theatre were to blame for the accident, saying performers regularly injure themselves. 

"Backstage is hell. Dancers damage their legs when sets and staircases fall over," Nikolai Tsiskardze told the publication. 

"We must not blame Yevgeny or find a scapegoat."

Moscow's Investigative Committee released a statement saying it was investigating the circumstances surrounding Mr Kulesh's death.

with AAP

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