An actor performing at Russia's prestigious Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow died during a freak accident on-stage that saw him crushed by a prop which was slowly lowered onto him.
Yevgeny Kulesh, 38, suffered a tragic fate when he was performing in an opera composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov called “Sadko”.
Medics were not able to resuscitate the actor following the fall.
While the opera’s set was changing its backdrop, Yevgeny was reportedly trapped by the falling scenery, crushing him to death as the performance was still on-going, to the audience's complete oblivion.
According to various reports, the opera was “immediately stopped”, before authorities at the Bolshoi Theatre asked the audience to leave the hall.
A member of the public told Russian news website, Ria.ru that she had suddenly heard a person screaming for someone to get a doctor and to call an ambulance, before announcing that someone had “got hit by the backdrop”.
The spectator went on to reveal that the orchestra abruptly stopped playing, and that “in less than a minute the curtain closed and the audience was asked to leave.”
Footage of the tragic accident has emerged online, and has been showing performers in total panic, while pleading with Bolshoi’s staff to lift the backdrop off Yevgeny.
Moscow's Investigative Committee explained in an official statement that the accident and the death of the actor, who had been performing with the Bolshoi since 2002, was being investigated.
Although it has been reported that a factor to Yevgeny’s death was that the actor made the terrible mistake of heading in the wrong direction while the scenery was being lowered, such deadly accidents have happened at the theatre before.
In 2013, Viktor Sedov, a violinist who had been performing with the Bolshoi’s orchestra for four decades, died after falling into the orchestra pit.
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Former principal dancer at the Bolsoi, Nikolai Tsiskardze, revealed to the Russian newspaper, Komsomolkaya Pravda, that he was convinced Yevgeny’s death was not the actor’s fault, but rather caused by the technical staff’s lapse of judgement.
He said: “Backstage is hell. Dancers damage their legs when sets and staircases fall over. “There are no windows or ventilation.”
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