The Pitfalls of Classical Music

Continuing my holiday tradition of bringing you some of the lighter side of classical music, I thought I’d bring to your attention some of the dangers inherent in performing. We’ll start with the pratfalls:

  • Opera singer Ana Maria Martinez was injured by falling into the orchestra pit during a performance of Dvořák’s Rusalka at the Glyndebourne festival, just before the end of the first act, damaging a cello worth $160,000. She was rushed to the hospital over her protestations, while the remaining acts were performed by her understudy.
  • Conductor David Ott fell into an empty space below the orchestra pit on the opening night of The Widow’s Lantern at the Pensacola Opera and although he broke nine vertebrae he sustained no severe injuries and is expected to recover.
  • Simon Deonarian fell (or leapt) into the orchestra pit of the Metropolitan Opera during the premiere performance of Prokofiev’s War and Peace, crushing the bow of the assistant principal violinist. Mr. Deonarian was unhurt.
  • Joyce DiDonato fell into the orchestra pit during a performance of Rossini’s Barber of Seville at the London Royal Opera House, broke her fibula, but continued to the end of the performance. She finished the rest of the season, continuing in a wheelchair and cast.

In fact, most pits now have safety nets–not just to protect falling singers, but also to protect pit orchestras (and their expensive instruments) from falling debris, including swords, giant wooden switchblades, horses, and papier-maché fruit, among many others.

So for all you pit musicians playing for the innumerable performances of Tschaikowsky’s Nutcracker Suite, I’ll quote a line from Hill Street Blues: “Be careful out there!”

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