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Royal Opera House granted permission to appeal ruling over musician’s hearing loss

Royal Opera House. Photo: Laika AC
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The Royal Opera House will appeal a landmark ruling in favour of a musician who claimed his hearing was “irreversibly damaged” during loud rehearsals.

Chris Goldscheider, a former viola player in the orchestra at Covent Garden, said he could no longer work as a musician due to the ‘acoustic shock’ he suffered over a weekend rehearsal of Wagner’s Ring Cycle in 2012.

He said the noise he was exposed to was unacceptable.

The Royal Opera House, represented by law firm BLM, has now been granted permission to take the case to the court of appeal.

When the judge ruled in Goldscheider’s favour in March, experts warned the decision could have far-reaching implications for the music industry.

BLM said it “effectively requires musicians permanently to wear ear plugs during almost all performances and rehearsals”.

The firm added the judgment “brutally hammers the square peg of the 2005 [Control of Noise at Work] regulations into the round hole of performance sound production”, and made no allowances for “artistic standards, reasonable practicability and a collaborative approach with professional musicians”.

Nigel Lock, occupational disease partner at BLM, said: “It is so important to anyone taking part in live music – whether a school choir, a concert, a stage show, or a performance at the Royal Opera House – that we have been granted permission to appeal the High Court’s decision.

“We were always confident the Court of Appeal would agree that an appeal had reasonable prospects of success, and we are looking forward to making our case, and seeking to put an end to the limbo that live music producers, musicians and performers have found themselves in since the first instance decision was handed down.”

It is anticipated that the appeal will take place before next summer.

A spokesman for the Royal Opera House added it was delighted at the decision to allow an appeal.

“We believe this case has far-reaching consequences for the live music industry and creative sector in this country and we look forward to putting forward our case later next year,” he said.

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