Bolshoi artist dies in stage accident

An artist was killed during an opera at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow on Saturday when an accident happened during a scene change, the theater said.

The man, in his late thirties, worked as an extra in a performance of the opera ‘Sadko’ by the Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

Russian news reports said the man was crushed by a piece of landscape, and videos from the event which circulated online showed it happening as a backdrop descended to the stage. As the choir continued to sing and the orchestra continued to play, there was a sudden commotion on the stage. Performers waved their arms and shouted “Stop!” The music stopped and most of the performers walked off stage, while a few went to the back of the stage to help the man. The curtains closed.

The show was immediately halted, the Bolshoi said in a statement, and the audience was asked to leave.

“A tragic accident happened tonight during the production of ‘Sadko’,” the Bolshoi, one of Russia’s most prestigious theaters, said in a statement. The theater said it was assisting investigators in uncovering the circumstances of the man’s death.

The man was identified as Yevgeny Kulesh. He worked as part of a 50-strong group of Bolshoi employees who serve as extras on stage, complementing singers and dancers.

Russian news reports said the audience initially appeared unaware of the death and seemed to think the panic on stage was part of the performance.

The Bolshoi has a history of strange deaths and injuries. In 2013, the artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet was seriously injured when a masked man threw acid in his face. That same year, a violinist died after falling into the orchestra pit.

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