NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Saturday’s performance of “Guillaume Tell” at the Metropolitan Opera House was disrupted when an audience member sprinkled an unidentified powdery substance into the orchestra pit.
In a news conference Saturday night, investigators said the substance is still being tested but they have reason to believe it may have been someone’s ashes.
Police were called and the show was cancelled during the second intermission around 5:23 p.m.
Investigators said the audience member approached the orchestra pit with a bag and sprinkled the substance in two places.
They also said they spoke with some opera goers who reported speaking with someone who expressed interest in spreading the ashes of their mentor inside the theater.
“As it seems to be the case, obviously ashes of an opera lovers mentor being sprinkled into the pit, although certainly inconveniencing all of us, is a far cry better than anything else. You know we appreciate opera lovers coming to The Met, we hope that they will not bring ashes with them,” General Manager Peter Gelb said.
Chair of the Metropolitan Opera Committee Jessica Phillips released a statement, saying “While this incident is extremely troubling to say the least, we are grateful that no one was seriously injured and none of the priceless instruments which had to be abandoned in the orchestra pit, due to emergency evacuation, suffered any damage. I’m sure that on Monday morning the Met Opera be reevaluating it’s security protocols.”
“Someone who works for the opera house came out to say that the fourth act was being cancelled because of some problems,” one audience member said. “He did not elaborate, but he said everybody was healthy, there was no illness in the back, but whatever the problem was made it impossible to present the fourth act.”
“The audience was very unhappy, there was whistling, and yelling and screaming, but they had no choice but to leave,” he told CBS2’s Christine Sloan.
Audience members were instructed to call the Met’s Customer Care department at (212) 362-6000 to make arrangements to see the show at a later date.