Theater Actor Crushed to Death During Mishap on Stage

A Russian actor was crushed to death on Saturday during a set change in an opera at one of Moscow's most famous theaters.

Yevgeny Kulesh, 38, was performing in the opera Sadko at the Bolshoi Theatre, the venue announced on social media. He is believed to have gone in the wrong direction during the descent of a ramp and was trapped under it, the BBC reported, citing social media videos. Initial reports from Russian media said that the actor was killed by "a falling piece of decor."

Social media posts showed shocked spectators, some of whom had initially believed the accident was a stage trick.

"Nobody had time to sing. The overture had only finished playing," one wrote.

"Stop! Stop! Call the ambulance! There's blood!" someone shouted, according to a witness cited by state-backed broadcaster Russia Today (RT).

The videos reportedly showed other performers frantically waving their arms to get the crew to lift the structure off Kulesh, who according to local media, had worked at the theater since 2002.

The Bolshoi Theatre said in a statement on Sunday: "EVGENIA SERGEEVICH KULESH (16.08.1983). We express our deepest condolences to family and friends. The time and place of farewell will be reported in addition."

Newsweek has contacted the theater for additional comment.

Theater staff closed the curtains moments after the accident and then called off the show shortly, RT reported. It also cancelled the performance of Sadko on Sunday as the venue remained closed.

The network reported that forensics experts were dispatched to the theater and the Russian Investigative Committee said it was looking into the accident.

Previous Tragedy

Sadly, it wasn't the first tragedy to have occurred at the Bolshoi. In July 2013, Viktor Sedov, a veteran violinist who had played at the venue for more than 40 years, died after he fell into the orchestra pit.

The same year, a former ballet dancer at the theater was sentenced to six years in jail after he was found to have organised an acid attack on the company's artistic director, Sergei Filin, outside his Moscow flat, severely damaging his eyesight. Pavel Dmitrichenko was found guilty of asking a former convict to attack Filin.

Dmitrichenko was released from jail early in 2016 and tried to get a job back at the world-famous theater, but he returned to the Bolshoi for morning practice routines only.

The theater originally opened in 1825 and has been the site of many historic premiers.

Bolshoi Theater in Moscow
A Google Street View image of the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Russia. A Russian actor was crushed to death on Saturday during a set change in an opera at the theater. Google Street View