Opera cancelled over fears human ashes were sprinkled

5:35 pm on 30 October 2016

A performance of 'Guillaume Tell' at New York City's Metropolitan Opera has been cancelled after an audience member sprinkled what police believe to be human ashes into the orchestra pit.

Police officials said witnesses had heard a man say he was at the opera to spread the ashes of his mentor.

"An individual from out of town ... indicated that he was here to sprinkle ashes of a friend, his mentor in opera, during the performance," Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said.

The Met said on its Facebook page that it also cancelled the Saturday evening performance of 'L'Italiana in Algeri,' while police investigated the incident which happened in the second intermission.

There were no reports of any injuries or any bad reactions to the substance, though the theatre was evacuated and the New York Police Department dispatched a special unit to investigate, Officer Tiffany Phillips said.

The suspect, who was not identified, fled the scene and no arrests had been made, Ms Phillips said.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs