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The opera singer who lost his hearing appeals for your help

August 30, 2017 by norman lebrecht

13 comments.


Thierry Duty, a chorus singer at Zurich Opera, suffered damage to his hearing six years ago after being placed too close to an amplified drum in Puccini’s Turandot.

He was fired from his job, was forced to leave the country and is still fighting for compensation. Thierry depends at the moment on the generosity of his colleagues. Please help if you can. His need is both urgent and legitimate.

Click here to give.


Comments (13)

  1. Ungeheuer says:

    Sounds to me like an instance of occupational hazard. Why doesn’t he sue for damages? (ignorant of Swiss worker protection laws)

  2. Jonathan Dunsby says:

    What happened about the British viola player (reported on at the time in SD) who had similar problems with noise-incuded hearing loss ? That was a nasty story.

  3. Sue Grabbit & Runne says:

    Why did he not wear ear plugs or defenders, employers have to provide PPE by law. Swiss law has a limit on noise at the work place so he has a case as well as for unfair dismissal.

    I do not get why he had to leave the country , did he rob a bank or do summat odd in public?

    1. “Foreigner, no job no use no tax payment. Just get out of here, parasite.”
      I think that is the logic behind the decision makers.

      1. Sue, Grabbit & Runne says:

        His French Facebook says his Zurich job ended 30 Dec 2013, it also has a load about his medical condition – not tinnitus at al summat even worse hyperacusis.

    2. The dilemma is that even with such mechanisms like “work visa”, there are still plenty of parasites out there, who is just busy doing nothing but “studying” the rules. That’s why I said honest and hard-working people are the ones who get mercilessly punished nowadays.

      1. Ungeheuer says:

        All too true, sadly

    3. Max Grimm says:

      As to why he left Switzerland (from the link provided in the starter):
      “He could not longer live in the city because of the noise. So he moved into a little house of his parents in Spain.”

  4. Max Grimm says:

    “Thierry Duty, a chorus singer at Zurich Opera, lost his hearing six years ago […]”

    Did you read M. Duty’s explanation on the website you linked to, Norman?
    He did not lose his hearing. After the incident he was left suffering from hyperacusis, meaning that he has an increased sensitivity to certain frequency and volume ranges of sound, ie. a whisper may be unbearably loud and painful to him.

    1. norman lebrecht says:

      Quite right. I relied on a link sent by one of his colleagues.

  5. Thomas Silverberg says:

    Some of this is not quite accurate. I’m not sure how he separated from the Opera House, but I know he ha been trying to be recognized for invalid pension. and know he is suffering from a sort of tinnitus which makes noise unbearable. I rather doubt he was, as an EU- citizen, forced out of Switzerland. I was told he needs a quiet place due to his condition. As I understand, his primary field of concern is having his invalid pension recognized.

    1. Stephen says:

      Tinnitus and hyperacusia are quite different. Tinnitus is a noise generated by the brain, mainly as a result of noise exposure or ageing, which often takes the form of hissing or even roaring; it is often accompanied by hearing loss, which hyperacusia is too, Hyperacusia results in over-sensitivity to quite banal noises, the rustling of paper, for instance. It is possible to have both afflictions and both can be very distressing.

  6. hadrianus says:

    Years ago, in the same Zurich Opera House, we had the case of a lady prompter, who got the very same symptoms after Nello Santi’s extremely loud performances of Tosca. Zürich’s orchestra pit is not the best – and its very old prompter’s box is (also acoustically) a disaster. She had to struggle for years, to get a compensation after having quit her job. I remembered that experts had placed special microphones in the prompter’s box, in order to test the situation – which brought to nothing. The management was confirmed that the situation was not dangerous at all. As far as I can remember, there was also an orchestral player having got a hearing problem after the use of loud guns in the shooting scene of Tosca. And I was near to get a similar problem after having prompted an open-air performance in Salzburg, since, as a prompter, I had to sit in the orchestra, closely surrounded by all kind of wind and brass instruments. I was lucky enough to just have to bear a few days of tinnitus and balance problems…


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