THE Royal Opera House is facing a huge bill after losing a court battle with a viola player who suffered a life-changing hearing injury caused by loud music.
Christopher Goldscheider suffered ‘acoustic shock’ after sitting in front of an 18-strong brass section in the orchestra pit of the Covent Garden venue while preparing for a performance of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle.
Damages are yet to be assessed but he is claiming £750,000 for lost earnings.
As a result of the injury, Mr Goldscheider, 45, of Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, was forced to end his professional career. His symptoms, which include sensitivity to noise, mean he is unable to look for other work.
He won his legal action against the Royal Opera House Covent Garden Foundation when a judge found it was in breach of Control of Noise at Work Regulations.
The foundation challenged the ruling at the Court of Appeal, arguing it was ‘potentially highly damaging’ and could have ‘disturbing implications’ for live music in England and Wales.
At a hearing in March, RoH lawyers said the ruling failed to distinguish between the industrial noise of a factory and ‘one of the greatest artistic institutions in the world, for whom “noise” was a product’.
But the foundation’s appeal was yesterday rejected by three senior judges.
They dismissed fears the earlier ruling could have a chilling effect on all live music performance.
Sir Brian Leveson, sitting with Lord Justice Bean and Lord Justice McCombe, said the problems which led to Mr Goldscheider’s injury were ‘all foreseeable and reasonably preventable’.
The judge added: ‘The national and international reputation of the RoH is not and should not be affected by this judgment.’