Woman dies after fall at Opera Australia

Woman dies after fall at Opera Australia


norman lebrecht

April 05, 2021

The fashion designer Carla Zampatti has died in hospital after falling down steps during the interval of the opening outdoor performance of Opera Australia’s La Traviata on Sydney Harbour.

Eyewitnesses said work was being undertaken on the steps at the time she fell.

Zampatti, 78, was one of Australia’s best known international costumiers.




  • Sharon says:

    What a shame! I once was at a off Broadway theater performance where several older people were tripping on steep stairs. There was at least one complete fall (who refused an ambulance although she had difficulty rising from the floor). Ushers were rushing around to assist.

    Because the venue where this tragedy occurred was an outdoor venue theater safety rules may not have had to be followed. It is likely that these outdoor stairs did not have a handrail, in addition to the problems with the stairs themselves.

    Insurance companies should insist on safety standards for outdoor venues just like they insist on standards for indoor venues.

    However, the fastest way to make sure safety is maintained is for the audience not to buy tickets at any venue that is seen as unsafe, whether it be due to stairways without handrails, situations that are fire hazards or nowadays, a lack of at least a modicum of social distancing, and let the venue know why!
    If unionized, performers should do the same.

    Write a letter to the venue stating why you are boycotting and get your friends to do the same. If the venue receives government funding tell them that you will also be writing your local legislators and the government department in charge of the funding.

    If a venue receives even 10 letters you can bet there will be changes. They know that apart from the loss of the ticket revenue it’s a lot cheaper in the long run to fix the deficiencies than pay damages in a law suit and pay inflated insurance expenses because the premium went up after an accident.

    May Ms. Zampatti’s family find peace.

  • Karl says:

    I worry about a long staircase at the NAC in Ottawa that got put in during the renovation a few years ago. It looks very dangerous.

    • V.Lind says:

      I know that venue, though I have not been there for several years, and never since renovations. Where is this staircase? The one that used to run from the Mezzanine to the lobby was safe enough (and very elegant).

      • Steve says:

        Are you referring to inside the Opera House? This was an outdoor performance, presumably on the harbour front, and I would imagine that the steps were either those in front of the House or temporary ones built as part of creating the performance space.

  • Marg says:

    The Opera on the Harbour is presented in an outdoor venue by Opera Australia, and the venue seating has been in place for several years now. It is well maintained, there are handrails, and Aust occupational safety laws ensure such places are at the highest standard. I was there a few days later after she fell – there is nothing particularly steep or dangerous. Stairs can easily be tripped on and a fall by an older person can be very serious, as in this terrible case. There has been nothing in the papers to suggest any negligence on the part of Opera Australia. Carla Zampatti was a tremendously generous patron of the arts and she will be missed by the arts as well as by the fashion world. She was a generous spirit in every sense of the word.

  • John says:

    Refer to the obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald:
    Mention should be made of her generous patronage of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, artistic director Paul Dyer. She also annually designed the gowns of the women of this orchestra.
    Her State Funeral will be held later this month.

  • Zandonai says:

    Did they cancel the show or did it go on? I smell a lawsuit coming.

    • Marg says:

      The Opera is continuing. No, this is not the US. No lawsuit. Sometimes stuff happens and you dont have to sue someone.

  • Zandonai says:

    What a damn shame. Having survived Covid, only to be done in by the steps.