One audience member became so distracted by a woman next to him opening a new packet of gum that he grabbed it from her and threw it to the floor.
In retaliation the woman, after calmly waiting more than an hour for the orchestra to finish its performance, slapped the man in the face, sparking a full on brawl between the pair.
The Sydsvenskan newspaper reported that the fight, which occurred at a concert in Malmo, Sweden’s third-largest city, where the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra was performing Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.
One witness told the newspaper that the rustling became unbearable during a particularly quiet part of the musical piece.
“When the applause broke out [at the end of the concert] the woman turned towards the man and said something,” Britt Aspenlind, who was sitting two rows behind the pair, told Sydsvenskan. “The woman gave the younger man a slap right in his face. He became angry and started fighting back.”
The blow was strong enough to knock the man’s glasses off, other witnesses reported. To add insult to injury, a companion of the woman who had been eating the gum then began hurling punches at the man as well.
Another onlooker described it as a “violent attack”, and said he had never seen anything like it before in his life.
After news of the brawl was published in Sydsvenskan, the concert hall, Malmo Live, posted online a brief reminder of good etiquette when enjoying classical music.
“Everyone thinks it is wonderful to sit at a hockey or football match and drink a beer or coffee and eat little snacks … ” it said.
"In a concert hall with world class acoustics it is not however suitable to bring rustling bags of crisps.”
When asked if there were any more concerts planned which could cause emotions to run wild, the venue’s communications director, Anna-Maria Havskogen, did raise a concern.
“Possibly Verdi’s Requiem on 1 and 2 November could be a high-risk concert actually,” she said. “Extremely powerful, will awaken strong feelings … ”
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