An actor has died in a freak stage accident at Bolshoi Theater. Yevgeny Kulesh, a cast member of opera “Sadko”, passed away after he was crushed by the massive backdrop during a set change at the famed Russian theater.

The accident occurred during a live performance of the 19th-century opera by Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov on Saturday, October 9. Yevgeny appeared to have exited the stage on the wrong side and was struck by scenery being lowered.

One man yelled for help after he realized what happened. “Stop, stop! Call an ambulance, someone got hit by the backdrop! There’s blood!” the man cried out in Russian. The music then slowed to halt while panicked actors frantically waved their hands for help.

After the accident, the stage’s curtain was lowered and the audience eventually was told the performance was canceled and their money would be refunded. “The opera was immediately stopped and the audience was asked to leave,” the theater said in a statement, according Australian Associated Press.

Yevgeny was declared dead by the time first responders arrived, Russian media reported. He was 38 years old and had worked at the Bolshoi for two decades.

The theater mourned the actor’s death on Twitter. “The management of the Bolshoi Theatre and the team of the mimic ensemble regretfully announce the tragic death of our artist YEVGENY SERGEEVICH KULESH (16.08.1983 – 09.10.2021). We express our deep condolences to the family and friends. The time and place of a memorial will be announced later,” it tweeted on Sunday.

The Investigative Committee said it would investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Yevgeny. Meanwhile, Nikolai Tsiskardze, a former dancer at the Bolshoi, condemned the conditions of the prestigious theater as he said the late actor was not to be blamed for the accident.

“Backstage is hell. Dancers damage their legs when sets and staircases fall over,” the dancer said. “We must not blame Yevgeny or find a scapegoat.” Tsiskardze said he’s complained about the allegedly dangerous situation at the Bolshoi for decades, but “there is no order, no medicine, no ethics….”

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