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Barrister Banned From Practicing After Physical Altercation At Covent Garden

By Sara Schabas on June 24, 2024

Covent Garden
Covent Garden

The barrister Matthew Feargrieve has been given a 12-month ban from practicing law after punching the fashion designer Ulrich Engler before a Wagner opera at Covent Garden in 2019. The two were reportedly disputing an empty front-row seat.

The DL: The barrister Matthew Feargrieve has been given a 12-month ban from practicing law following his physical altercation with the fashion designer Ulrich Engler during a dispute during a 2019 performance of Wagner’s Ring Cycle at London’s Covent Garden. Feargrieve reportedly “lost his temper” when Engler moved from his seat in Row B to an empty seat next to Feargrieve’s wife in Row A, on which she’d placed her coat shortly before the performance began. The lawyer was convicted of assault following the incident in 2019 and has now also been fined for his actions.

Wait, what?: We know it’s a shocking tale. But historically speaking, the pandaemonium conjured by engaging with the works of Richard Wagner is not without precedent. As Alex Ross reminds us in his book Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music, released the year following the Feargrieve-Engler altercation, Wagner’s musical works and ideas are always implicated in an ideology of hate.

But let’s leave all that aside when we come to the opera, shall we?

Sara Schabas
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