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Amsterdam Police & Neighbor Mistake Opera Singing for Screaming

By Steve Nagel s.nagel@classicalite.com on Mar 04, 2016 09:00 AM EST

Most people can tell the different between music and other kinds of noise, but some genres may be tougher to distinguish than most. In an extreme case of this, a concerned man in Amsterdam thought his neighbor, who was singing along to some opera on his headphones, was a man screaming in agony. From afar, listening to the singing man without the context of the music must have been a terrifying and intense experience -- intense enough, in fact, to call the Amsterdam police. And while music is probably best enjoyed with some level of intensity, the incident finely illustrates how things can quickly go from invigorating to threatening.

On a calm January morning, an Amsterdam resident had called in to the police, claiming to have heard "a frightening scream" from his neighbor's home. The screaming was apparently so frightening that he had thought it to be a case of domestic violence.

Police from the Amsterdam Zuid-Buitenveldert district arrived shortly thereafter to check on the incident, but were met with no response when they knocked on the door. The "screaming" continued.

Finally, the police resorted to kicking the door in, at which point the resident responded, seeming to be "alone in the apartment" according to a police dept. Facebook post. As it turned out, "the resident was enjoying listening to music on his headphones. He was singing along to an opera."

Once the initial shock had settled, the man, the police, and the concerned neighbor all "laughed about the incident," according to the post, with commenters even suggesting that "the man should enter The Voice of Holland", a TV talent show (presumably to test out his "terrifying" singing on the national scale).

According to the NL Times, the case was referred to the department's legal affairs division, and despite the strong likelihood of being dismissed, the incident would suggest a fair warning to urban residents hoping to express themselves.

Although it was not mentioned which opera or aria the man was singing along with, certain arias make it plain to see how under the wrong circumstances they could have been mistaken for anguish. Imagine Pavarotti without the music:

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TagsPolice, Break In, Opera, The Netherlands