Disturbing footage shows the moment a Russian actor is crushed to death during a live performance at Moscow’s famed Bolshoi Theatre.
Yevgeny Kulesh, 38, somehow became trapped underneath the massive backdrop during a set change during the opera performance — as actors and the orchestra unwittingly continue on with the act.
One man on stage cries out after he realizes what’s happened. The music then slows to halt, while panicked actors franctically wave their hands for help.
“Stop, stop! Call an ambulance, someone got hit by the backdrop! There’s blood!” the man yells in Russian.
The stunned crowd gasps from their seats as the curtain is suddenly shut.
Harrowing photos show Kulesh’s crushed body below the set. He was declared dead by the time first responders arrived, according to Russian media. He had reportedly worked at the Bolshoi for two decades.
The terrible accident occurred during a performance of “Sadko,” a 19th-century opera by Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
It is not yet known how Kulesh became trapped, but he is believed to have moved in the wrong direction during the set change, according to Russian reports.
Nikolai Tsiskardze, a former dancer at the Bolshoi, told the newspaper Komsomolkaya Pravda that the performer was blameless in the accident, condemning the conditions of the prestigious theatre.
“Backstage is hell. Dancers damage their legs when sets and staircases fall over,” he said. “We must not blame Yevgeny or find a scapegoat.”
Tsiskardze said he’s complained about the allegedly dangerous situation at the Bolshoi for decades.
“There is no order, no medicine, no ethics…,” he said.
An audience member told the Russian paper that it was her first show ever at the theater, and she had initially believed that the incident was a part of the performance until the lights went on.