Opera House loses $1 million hearing damage appeal

Covent Garden was left reeling today by a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeal that it had failed to protect a viola player’s hearing during Wagner rehearsals. The opera house was ordered to pay Chris Goldscheider £750,000 in damages for acoustic shock.

The Court of Appeal found that the ROH failed to take reasonable steps to protect Christopher Goldscheider during 2012 rehearsals, or to take further action in regard to dangerous noise levels.

The judgement is a huge blow to the Royal Opera House, both financially and in terms of its rehearsal practices.

Read on here and here.

The implications for the entire opera sector are considerable.

 

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  • Great news for this unfortunate player.
    It was a blow after the appeal last year, but presumably this is the very, very final verdict ?

  • A musician has had his hearing and life changed for ever, not in ways that he would have anticipated. An opera pit can be an acoustically dangerous place and for opera houses not to take adequate steps to protect the players’ hearing is an act of thoughtless insensitivity or callous disregard depending on your point of view. The ROH isn’t the only opera company with deafened musicians either in post or retired. Let’s see how this goes.

  • It won’t be an immediate financial blow to the ROH, because its employer’s liability insurance will cover both the award and the costs . However, we may expect that all musical employers will now find that their premiums rise

  • This is classic nonesense. This person could not have lost hearing from a single session. The end result could be volume controlled recorded orchestral accompaniment in a British opera houses. Think music minus one on a grand scale.

  • What really is an issue here is the lack of legislation. One cannot describe the sounds in the pit accurately as a by-product of the work of a given musician or group or musicians, but rather as their work itself…

  • Don’t they let musicians wear earplugs? I see musicians put in plugs all the time at concerts when I sit in the balcony. I sat in the 4th row in front of a trumpet during a trumpet concerto once. Never again!

    • Musicians are of course allowed to wear ear plugs. The viola player in question was offered all manner of ear protection.

      • Then how could he have not known what would happen? And how could the court rule in his favor? You seem to indicate you have more information. Care to fill us in?

  • The ear plugs should be made compulsory in loud passages, especially if the musicians are sitting close to the brass.

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