Tragedy at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre as actor killed on stage during opera performance

11 October 2021, 11:34 | Updated: 11 October 2021, 12:44

Actor Yevgeny Kulesh dies on stage at Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre
Actor Yevgeny Kulesh dies on stage at Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre. Picture: Getty

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

A Russian actor was killed at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre during a performance of the Rimsky-Korsakov opera, Sadko, on Saturday evening.

Tragedy struck the famed Russian theatre this weekend when a performer, Yevgeny Kulesh, 38, was crushed during a change of scenery.

Kulesh, who had been working at the Bolshoi Theatre since 2002, reportedly walked the wrong way during an early set change in the opera, and was trapped beneath a lowering backdrop.

Footage shared online of the incident shows other performers on stage panicking as they call for the performance to stop once they realised what has happened.

The curtain was then quickly lowered and the audience were ushered out of their seats by staff.

The Bolshoi Theatre tweeted its condolences saying, “The management of the Bolshoi Theatre and the team of the mimic ensemble regretfully announce the tragic death of our artist Yevgeny Sergeevich Kulesh (16.08.1983 - 09.10.2021). We express our deep condolences to family and friends. The time and place of a memorial will be announced later.”

Moscow’s Investigative Committee said in a statement that it was opening up an investigation into the death during the Rimsky-Korsakov opera, Sadko.

Meanwhile, former Bolshoi Theatre actors have come forward condemning the working conditions at the world-famous venue.

Previous incidents at the theatre include the death of a violinist in 2013 who fell into the orchestra pit under the stage.

Nikolai Tsiskardze, a former principal dancer at the theatre told Russian newspaper Komsomolkaya Pravda, that he has been, “screaming about the problems of the Bolshoi for 25 years.”

“Backstage is hell. Dancers damage their legs when sets and staircases fall over," he added. "We must not blame Yevgeny or find a scapegoat. [the theatre has] no order, no medicine, no ethics…."