With very few exceptions, the addition of any kind of powder to a social situation is almost never positive, and Saturday afternoon at New York City's Metropolitan Opera proved the rule: As the New York Daily News reports, the matinee performance of "Guillaume Tell" was abruptly halted after a patron dumped what the AP calls "a powdery substance," which is believed to be the cremated ashes of an apparently actual phantom of the opera. As the NYPD's deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism puts it: "Members of the orchestra ... noticed an individual in a suit who approached the orchestra pit, reached into a bag, removed a powdery substance, sprinkled that into the orchestra pit, moved further down, reached into the bag again, sprinkled more of this substance into the orchestra pit."
"In my eleven years as manager this is a first," says the Met's general manager. Saturday evening's show, "L'Italiana in Algeri" was also canceled while authorities tried to verify that the substance was indeed human ashes. Authorities say they know who the suspect is, and that he's an out-of-towner who claimed to have been sprinkling his mentor's ashes. And while the tribute might not exactly adhere to city code, the NYPD rep says that "I don't believe at this point that we see any criminal intent here." And the incident's pièce de résistance, via the Met's GM: "We appreciate opera lovers coming to the Met. We hope that they will not bring their ashes with them." (Read more Metropolitan Opera stories.)