Fire-breathing actor severely burned at Lyric Opera rehearsal
BY NEIL STEINBERG Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org February 4, 2013 5:08PM
Wesley Daniel, a fire-breathing stilt walker, was seriously burned on his face and neck Monday at the dress rehearsal of the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of “Die Meistersinger von Nurenberg.” | Rich Hein~Sun-Times
Updated: March 6, 2013 6:28AM
A carnival trick gone wrong caused a fire-breathing stilt walker to engulf his face in flames Monday at the dress rehearsal of the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of “Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg.” The burned performer staggered offstage and fell to the floor.
Paramedics were called to treat the performer, Wesley Daniel, 24, who was taken to Loyola University Medical Center in critical condition with second-degree burns to his face and throat, according to the Chicago Fire Department.
The stunt had required Daniel, who was wearing a fireproof costume and mask, to swig from a container of flammable liquid, then spout it onto the torch he held in his hand. But the fire seemed to blow back into his face. Last week, another performer had experienced a lesser mishap attempting the same trick, part of a festival scene on the crowded Lyric stage.
The opera continued for about 15 seconds after the incident, which occurred in the second scene of the third act. Then an announcement was made and the curtain was lowered.
Several hundred members of the audience, who had begun watching the lengthy opera at noon, stayed in their seats and waited for the show to continue, which it did at 5:30 p.m., about 45 minutes after the incident. But the performance was abruptly halted at 6 p.m., to avoid a union-mandated break for he 81-member orchestra, and thus cutting off the last five minutes of the Wagner opera.
The Lyric Opera, which said in a statement that the stunt had been approved by the Chicago Fire Department, added that it would no longer include fire-spouting in its production of “Meistersinger,” which opens Feb. 8.