Bolshoi Theatre Performer Killed on Stage During Opera

By Francisco Salazar

On Saturday, Oct. 9, a performer at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre was killed in an accident on stage during a performance of “Sadko.”

The Bolshoi said the accident happened during a set change in the Russian opera by composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

In a statement, the company said, “When the scenery was changed, an artist of the mimansa (mime ensemble) died. The performance was immediately stopped, the audience was asked to leave the hall. At present, investigators are working on the spot to establish all the circumstances of the tragic event.’”

According to Moscow investigators, the performer was Yevgeny Kulesh, a 37-year old man who had been with the company since 2002 as part of a 50-person group of Bolshoi employees who serve as onstage extras.

Eyewitnesses who were in the theater noted, “he did not have time to move as the scenery descended. The performance was interrupted with cries of ‘Stop! Stop! Call an ambulance. There is blood here!.’”

Interfax news cited a source as saying that the performer was crushed by a ramp during a change of scenery. Sources told the RIA and TASS news agency he had been killed by a falling piece of decor.

Reports also noted that the audience did not see the incident as it happened behind the scenes.

“Sadko” opened on Oct. 7 and is set to be presented on Sunday, Oct. 10. No word on whether the final performance will be canceled.