NEW YORK – Fans of the Metropolitan Opera got an unexpected addition to Thursday night’s performance of “Don Carlo” when an on-stage campfire went awry, sending a stagehand into the middle of the scene with a fire extinguisher.
Verdi’s 1867 opera was in the first act with a key scene between Don Carlo, Infante of Spain (played by Ramón Vargas), who had come secretly to France to see Elisabetta de Valois, played by Barbara Frittoli, in a wintry forest. Don Carlo lights the campfire, which began to blaze with an unusual intensity.
As the scene evolves, it became clear that there was too much fire. As the smoke from the burning wood drifted through the opera house, a stagehand calmly entered the stage with a fire extinguisher and gave the blaze a quick blast. The singers didn’t miss a beat, although the audience gasped and laughed for the only time during the dark opera, which is set against a backdrop of the Spanish Inquisition.
Mishaps at the opera, while rare, come with the staging of complex stories that sometimes involve a cast of hundreds. Mezzo-soprano Wendy White was hospitalized in 2011 after an 8-foot fall during a performance at the Met.
Deborah Voigt and Eve Gigliotti narrowly escaped serious injury during a set malfunction during “Die Walküre” the same year.
The Met Opera didn’t respond to a request for comment placed this morning by ABC News.