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A New York Opera Was Shut Down When A Man Sprinkled His Dead Friend's Ashes

"We appreciate opera lovers coming to the Met. We hope they won't bring their ashes with them."

Posted on October 30, 2016, at 12:50 a.m. ET

John Minchillo / AP

A suspicious substance sprinkled during a performance at New York City's Metropolitan Opera on Saturday appears to have been the ashes of an opera lover's dead mentor, authorities said.

The incident prompted the immediate cancellation of the performance of Gioachino Rossini's Guillaume Tell as police swarmed into the center over the powder.

The substance is still being tested by authorities, but John Miller, New York Police Department Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism, said several witnesses told police a man said he was at the center to sprinkle his mentor's ashes.

"He was there to sprinkle ashes of a friend, his mentor of opera during the performance," Miller said.

The man, who was not identified, apparently sprinkled the ashes into the orchestra pit during the second intermission.

The pit was empty at the time.

A performance of Rossini's L'Italiania in Algieri was also canceled because of the ongoing investigation.

Police said they were reaching out to the man to confirm details, but he was not suspected of a crime at the time.

Despite the scare, Met officials said they were glad the incident did not end up being anything more serious.

"Although certainly inconveniencing all of us, it is a far cry better than anything else," said Peter Gelb, arts administrator for the Met.

"We appreciate opera lovers coming to the Met," Geld said. "We hope they won't bring their ashes with them."

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