The Ghost of Fred Baker at the Princess Theatre Melbourne
The next time I am in Australia, I will have to plan a night out at the theater. At the Princess Theatre Melbourne several ghosts have been sighted since its opening in 1886.
The best known “inhabitant” is Frederick Baker, whose stage name was Frederick Federici. On 3 March 1888 Federici was performing the role of Mephistopheles in Faust on opening night. The opera ended with Mephistopheles sinking dramatically through a trapdoor, as he returned to the fires of hell, bearing Faust with him. However, as Federici was being lowered down into the basement, he had a heart attack and died within minutes.
It was noted that soon after he collapsed, Federici was carried to the theatre’s green room, where his doctor was unable to revive him and pronounced him dead. The cast onstage, like the audience, were unaware of his sudden death, but when they were told of what had happened at the end of the opera, they reportedly said that he had just been onstage and taken the bows with them.
Since then, members of the theatre’s staff have claimed that during evening dress rehearsal they have seen a ghostly figure. For years the theater kept the third-row seat in the dress circle vacant in his honor every opening night. His appearance in the dress circle during rehearsals for a new show is considered a good omen.