A player of the British viola has won an important case against the Royal Opera House in London, after the court gave his claim that he suffered permanent hearing damage during the presentation of "Ride of the Valkyries" by Richard Wagner.
Chris Goldscheider, 45, is a professional musician who spent 10 years at the Royal Opera House in London. But, he says, he was left with permanent hearing loss in 2012 after rehearsing "Ride of the Valkyries," part of Wagner's epic Ring Cycle, famous for Francis Ford Coppola during the attack scene in Apocalypse Now.
Goldscheider retired two years later and today says he has moved his family to the country and "avoids restaurants and other noisy places," according to the Washington Post.
Now, the High Court of Great Britain has ruled that the Royal Opera House is responsible for his injury and will make an assessment of the appropriate damages. (Goldscheider's lawsuit sought more than a million dollars in lost profits only).
How did this happen?
The lawsuit states that Goldscheider suffered an "acoustic shock" or symptoms (such as a ringing in the ears) that occur after a sudden loud noise. The term was applied for the first time to operators in call centers, but what happened to Goldscheider is much more serious than what happens in a call center.
The horns, after all, are much louder than telephones, and during a particular performance of that famous piece, he sat right in front of the metal instruments: a tuba, nine French horns, four trombones and four trumpets, including the main trumpet. He wore special earplugs, but, according to him, they were not enough.
According to the resolution, over the course of a few hours, the horn sounds were greater than 91 decibels and reached a maximum of 137 decibels. For context, 95 decibels are as noisy as a 25-foot motorcycle, and "damage is likely in [eight] hours." And 137 decibels are stronger than when you hear a jet plane take off. With that level of noise, it is not surprising that he felt dizzy and nauseated later, even with special earplugs.
The case is the first time a court has ruled that the acoustic shock is worthy of compensation, according to the BBC, and is likely to have far-reaching effects on the music business.