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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Last Ash-in' Zero

"Opera lover" ruins two performances at the Met.
Opera spoiler: Roger Kaiser (inset) ruined Saturday's Metropolitan Opera performances
of Rossini's Guillaume Tell and L'Italiana in Algeri.
Background photo by Ken Howard.
I was on a train last night coming back from a performance at NJPAC when I checked my Twitter, and learned that Saturday's matinée performance of Rossini's opera Guillaume Tell was ruined when a man dumped a "white powder" into the orchestra pit at the Metropolitan Opera. Here's a quick recap of the story, in case you haven't heard it by now. 

The man, Roger Kaiser, 52 is a self-proclaimed opera-lover from Dallas, Texas. He dumped his discharge into two different locations of the orchestra pit, between the thurd and fourth acts of the epic French opera, and then walked out of the opera house. His actions caused Met security to cancel the fourth act of the opera, and call in the New York Police Department to seal off the auditorium and examine the powder in question.  

The Met announced to the audience that the remainder of the opera performance was cancelled due to a to a "technical malfunction" with the scenery, with no mention of the powder incident. (An excellent first-hand account is available on the Likely Impossibilities blog.) The opera house emptied in a calm and orderly fashion: no small feat since the Met seats 3,000 people. With the house empty, the Met's venerated orchestra pit became a crime scene, as NYPD department specialists moved in to identify and remove the substance. 

Mr. Kaiser was identified to authorities by his seat-mates, to whom he had boasted of his plan to deposit the ashes. His actions nixed not only Act IV of Tell but forced the Met to cancel a Saturday evening performance of another Rossini opera, L'Italiana in Algeri. Mr. Kaiser had tickets for this performance as well.

According to stories in the New York Post and the New York Times, the powder was the apparently the earthy remains of "a mentor and friend" of Mr. Kaiser. At the time of this writing, no charges have been filed. 

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