[Met Performance] CID:248370

Dialogues des Carmélites
Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, February 19, 1977

In English

Dialogues des Carmélites (4)
Francis Poulenc | Georges Bernanos
Blanche de la Force
Maria Ewing

Madame de Croissy
Régine Crespin

Madame Lidoine
Shirley Verrett

Mother Marie
Mignon Dunn

Sister Constance
Betsy Norden

Mother Jeanne
Jean Kraft

Sister Mathilde
Batyah Godfrey Ben-David

Marquis de la Force
William Dooley

Chevalier de la Force
Raymond Gibbs

Jon Garrison

Nico Castel

Gene Boucher

First Commissioner
Charles Anthony

Second Commissioner
Russell Christopher

Richard Best

Michel Plasson

The performance was delayed by tear gas.

Review 1:

Review of Wolfgang Saxon in The New York Times


Nearly 4,000 Operagoers Forced Outside as Performance is Held Up an Hour-12 Slightly Hurt

A near-capacity audience of almost 4,000 operagoers, expecting the curtain to rise on Poulenc's "Dialogues of the Carmelites" were routed from the Metropolitan Opera last night by the acrid fumes of a tear gas canister set off in the house while the musicians were tuning up.

Just after the first bell, about five minutes to curtain time at 8 P.M., thick white smoke began to 'spume' from the southern end of the main lobby. It quickly spread through the orchestra and its irritating effects could be felt all the way up to the dress circle.

"I was standing in the lobby," said Selene Fung, to an usher. "All of a sudden I saw some white smoke and someone said 'Get them out' and we started to feel it in our eyes."

Almost immediately the audience began to stream outside, many of them retching and coughing. People moved briskly, some in great annoyance, but there was no panic."

An 'Orderly Withdrawal'

"It was an extremely good, very-orderly withdrawal and it was handled very well by the ushers" said Michael Shields, a visitor from London who always attends the Met when he is in New York and who last night had an orchestra seat. "There was a very strong odor. You couldn't see much, and it stuck in your throat."

As the crowd began to mill about in the fresh night air outside, policemen and firemen took over to care for those more seriously affected by the fumes and to search the building. Finding nothing else, at 8:55 P.M. they gave the go-ahead for the performance to begin and the crowd started filing back in.

Wendy Hanson, deputy to Francis Robinson, the Met's assistant manager, said the incident made no sense whatsoever; why that opera? why that night? why the Met?" No one can think of any reason," she said.

The police sent eight members of the audience and four policemen to Roosevelt Hospital to be treated for the effects of the tear gas, but they said none had been seriously hurt.

The rest of the crowd, including women in fur coats and men in tuxedos, filled the plaza out front all the way to Broadway. For the most part they chatted and did not appear overly upset. Hardly anyone left during the delay of more than an hour.

Some Irritation

There was some irritation from the fact that someone, a prankster or whatever, had set out to ruin the evening for a lot of people.

George and Allison Birnbaum, a lawyer and an actress, were sitting in the orchestra when it happened "People were angry," Allison Birnbaum said. "When you think of it, you're at someone's whim. What's there in prevent this from happening anytime, anywhere?"

Richard B Smith, another refugee from an orchestra seat, said "All of sudden everybody stood up.. I thought Zinka Milanov had come in or something. I got a whiff of what it was and just followed everyone else."

Apparently, even out of towners preferred to wait it out.

"I traveled 200 miles for this performance," said Sumner Cotton of Worcester, Mass., as he walked back into the opera house with the crowd. I wouldn't miss it for anything."

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