Verdict: Covent Garden opera puncher is found guilty

Verdict: Covent Garden opera puncher is found guilty


norman lebrecht

December 16, 2019

The hedge fund lawyer Matthew Feargrieve was found guilty today of assaulting a fellow operagoer in the course of Wagner’s Ring cycle.

He was released on bail and told it was unlikely he would go to prison.

Sentence will be passed in January.

Court report here.





  • John Borstlap says:

    An appropriate incident at a Siegfried performance. The Ring is full of hostilities. Those people had read the programme booklet to carefully.

    • michael hurshell says:

      Well, by that argument, what about all the knifings / shootings / killings / suicides in operas by Italian, French, Russian et all composers?

      • John Borstlap says:

        In some theatres, audiences leave the theatre ready for street violence. There is a story that immigrants in Italy become a nuisance after having visitied an opera production for the first time.

  • Rob says:

    Storm in a tea cup ?

  • Feargrieve

    That sounds like a character from a bad Victorian novel.

  • mary says:

    the guilty party shall be confined in a ring of fire

    • Chris says:

      You sound as though you’re a Johnny Cash fan!

    • John Borstlap says:

      …. and then being put to sleep for quite a long period, and be kissed awake by an uncouth youth in animal skin, armed with sword and horn. That seems to be worse than the shock of an uninvited audience member landing on the seat next to your wife.

    • Tribonian says:

      As Fafner says in Act 2 about where he’s sitting, Ich lieg’, und besitz…

  • Mick the Knife says:

    So now Feargrieve has both fear of prison and grieves his conviction.

  • fflambeau says:

    The assaulter should have gone to jail. I would sue in civil court as well.

    • Karl says:

      The cost of suing in a case like this would exceed the reward. You don’t get many damages unless you lost money due to the transgression.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Common assault (minor), first offence, where no long term harm has been caused; lack of premeditation. This will never justify jail. This only justifies a small fine and perhaps some community service.

  • Peter says:

    This story uses such a disturbing illustration.

  • Unrelated question says:

    What an artistic photo! Where did you find it?

  • Edgar says:

    “Mr Engler, 56, said he felt a “constant flow of blows” after he moved into an empty seat next to Ms Chandler. The designer was initially suspected of carrying out the attack and spent a night in a police cell and was banned from the opera house for life, but the ban has since been lifted.”

    ROH is rather quick to ban folks, isn’t it?

    Is it The Ring’s Curse, I wonder?

  • Leporello says:

    All very tame compared with what went on in 19th century opera houses – both in the auditorium and backstage.

  • Esther Cavett says:

    == Engler asked whether Chandler had purchased a ticket for the extra seat. Chandler said she had not.

    A lesson to us all here. Always say “Yes, I bought a ticket. Billy should be joining us soon”