Viola player wins landmark case over hearing damage | London

A leading viola player who says his hearing was irreparably damaged by loud music during rehearsals has won a landmark case against the Royal Opera House.

In the first case of its kind, which could have major repercussions for live performance, Christopher Goldscheider claimed he was exposed to unacceptable noise levels in the pit at the Covent Garden venue in 2012.

The 45-year-old classical musician from Bedfordshire said he suffered “acoustic shock” and became unwell after sitting in front of an 18-strong brass section during orchestral rehearsals for a performance of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle. His claim for lost earnings alone is almost £750,000.

The Royal Opera House Covent Garden Foundation contended that Mr Goldscheider’s condition was not caused by playing in the orchestra.

It said he had been provided with ear protection and the opera house had gone “as far and, if anything, further than the reasonable employer” to reduce noise levels.

At London’s High Court on Wednesday, Mrs Justice Nicola Davies gave judgment in favour of Mr Goldscheider on the issues of breach of duty and causation of injury.

Damages will be assessed at a later date.

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