UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan — A man sprinkled his mentor's ashes into the orchestra pit of the Metropolitan Opera Saturday, halting the performance.
Police say the incident happened around 4:30 p.m., at the Metropolitan Opera in Lincoln Center during "Guillaume Tell," or "William Tell."
The man, who was wearing a suit, approached the orchestra pit and removed a small bag. He then sprinkled the powdery substance into the pit.
The show was abruptly canceled as a safety precaution.
The Met took to social media to address the incident.
"Today’s performance of Guillaume Tell was canceled during the second intermission because of a disturbance by an audience member, who sprinkled an unidentified powdered substance into the orchestra pit. The NYPD is investigating the incident," the statement read.
"We have spoken to more than one witness, who said they spoke to an individual from out of town who indicated he was here to sprinkle ashes of a friend, his mentor in opera, during the performance. That is certainly an area which we're pursuing," John Miller, New York police deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism told CNN.
Miller said police know the man's identity but won't release his name.
Officials at the Met appeared relieved at the prospect that the substance could have been ashes.
"This was taken very seriously by the Met," Peter Gelb, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, told CNN.
"Ashes of an opera-loving mentor being sprinkled into the pit, although inconveniencing all of us, is a far cry better than anything else," Gelb said.
The Met is offering refunds to those forced to evacuate from the performance and will be open for business again Monday. Anyone in attendance of the show should contact the Met's Customer Care department at 212-362-6000 to make arrangements to see the performance at a later date.
"We appreciate opera lovers coming to the Met; we hope that they will not bring their ashes with them," Gelb said.