Fire-blowing stilt walker burned during Lyric Opera rehearsal - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Fire-blowing stilt walker burned during Lyric Opera rehearsal

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Credit: Rich Hein/Chicago Sun-Times Credit: Rich Hein/Chicago Sun-Times
Credit: Rich Hein/Chicago Sun-Times Credit: Rich Hein/Chicago Sun-Times
Credit: Rich Hein/Chicago Sun-Times Credit: Rich Hein/Chicago Sun-Times
CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

A carnival trick gone wrong caused a fire-breathing stilt walker to engulf his face in flames Monday at the dress rehearsal of the Lyric Opera of Chicago's production of "Die Meistersinger von Nurenberg."

The burned performer staggered offstage and fell to the floor.

A stage manager with a fire extinguisher put out spots of flame onstage. Paramedics were called to treat the performer, Wesley Daniel, 24, who was hospitalized in critical condition with second-degree burns to his face and throat, according to the Chicago Fire Department.

The stunt had required Daniel to swig from a container of flammable liquid, then spout it onto a torch he held in his hand. Last week, another performer had experienced a lesser mishap attempting the same trick, part of a festival scene on the crowded Lyric stage.

The opera continued for about 15 seconds after the incident, which occurred in the second scene of the third act. Then an announcement was made and the curtain was lowered.

Several hundred members of the audience, who had begun watching the lengthy opera at noon, stayed in their seats and waited for the show to continue, which it did at 5:30 p.m., about 45 minutes after the incident. But the performance was abruptly halted at 6 p.m., to avoid a union-mandated break for he 81-member orchestra, and thus cutting off the last five minutes of the Wagner opera.

Chicago paramedics took Daniel to Northwestern Memorial Hospital suffering from 2nd degree burns to his face and throat and 1st degree burns to his hands. He was later transferred to Loyola University Medical Center in critical condition. He is also dealing with some respiratory issues.

Krance said the fire-blowing effect had been approved by the Chicago Fire Department, but has been removed from future performances.

The Lyric Opera House says Daniel was wearing a flame-proof costume and mask.

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