Some ghastly Halloween news from yesterday’s performance at the New York Metropolitan Opera: ashes thrown by an audience member into the orchestra pit may have been human. According to the New York Times, the incident unfolded during the second intermission of an anticipated afternoon performance of Rossini’s “Guillame Tell.”
The NYPD’s Emergency Services unit has cordoned off the orchestra pit for the ongoing investigation. The Met’s Twitter account noted that all of the orchestra’s instruments remained there. At a press conference, the Deputy Commissioner for intelligence and counter terrorism, John Miller, said the suspect likely violated the city’s health code but that there was no criminal intent.
The suspect told several audience members that he was there to spread the ashes of his deceased mentor. There was only one musician in the orchestra pit at the time of the incident, and that was who alerted authorities. Two porters, wearing gloves, and an audience member may have come into contact with the powder, but were tested by authorities and released.
The Met was forced to cancel its first performance of Rossini’s famous opera in eighty years, as well as an evening performance of the composer’s earlier “L’italiana in Algeri.”
The New York Daily News identified the suspect as Texas resident Roger Kaiser, seen here in a photograph found on his Facebook page. We are not making this up.
Cancellations at the Metropolitan Opera are fairly rare, although the most recent was during the January 2015 snowstorm which forced much of the city’s transportation to a halt and before that during Hurricane Sandy. The Met’s most macabre cancellation in recent years was after tenor Richard Versalle suffered a heart attack in the first act of Janacek’s “The Makropulos Case” in 1996. He had just sung the line, “Too bad you can only live so long.”