The Metropolitan Opera confirmed that a performance of Guillaume Tell had been cancelled following the incident

By Maria Mercedes Lara
Updated October 30, 2016 10:52 AM
Credit: Seigfried Layda/Getty Images

The Metropolitan Opera in New York City confirmed that they had cancelled a Saturday performance of Guillaume Tell after an audience member sprinkled an unidentified substance inside the theater.

“Today’s performance of Guillaume Tell was canceled during the second intermission because of a disturbance by an audience member, who sprinkled an unidentified powdered substance into the orchestra pit,” the Metropolitan Opera announced on Facebook. “The NYPD is investigating the incident.

“As a safety precaution, the Met canceled the remainder of the performance. The audience was advised that there was a technical issue and that the performance was canceled.”

On Sunday, John Miller, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner in charge of intelligence and counterterrorism, said that several audience members at the performance were told by the unidentified man who sprinkled the substance that he was there to spread the ashes of his opera-loving friend.

Miller said the powder will be tested, but the possibility that it was in fact human ashes “is certainly an area that we are pursuing.” Police say they know who the man is and have reached out to him.

  • Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

Marie Te Hapuku, a soprano in the Metropolitan Opera chorus, revealed that the performers were left in the dark about the incident.

“This was my afternoon,” she wrote on Twitter. “We were in our dressing rooms wondering what the hold-up was – and then released from the rest of the performance.”

Guillaume Tell, Gioachino Rossini’s retelling of the William Tell fable, is slated to run at the Met until Nov. 12.