I read this interesting and excellently titled tidbit in today's New York Times, about the opera Larry and I will be seeing in January:
The Dangers of Opera
Company members of the Metropolitan Opera were sickened after being exposed to a shipment of costumes, including shoes, from China less than a month before the premiere of “The First Emperor,” a $3 million new production composed by Tan Dun and directed by Zhang Yimou. At least one backstage worker was hospitalized, apparently with an allergic reaction made worse by an existing ailment, said Elena Park, a Met spokeswoman. Ms. Park said other company members, costume shop workers and chorus members also had reactions, but she did not know how many people were stricken. The problematic costumes, confined to one of several shipments, were cleaned and the shoes replaced. “We don’t know the cause,” Ms. Park said. Samples of the costumes, elaborate designs created by Emi Wada, were sent to a laboratory for testing. The mysterious condition did not delay rehearsals, Ms. Park said, and the opera is scheduled to open as planned on Dec. 21. DANIEL J. WAKIN
Obviously, this could have been a serious problem and it's very fortunate that only one person became ill. But while I don't want to make light of the issue, I'm rather intrigued by the first sentence. Company members "were sickened after being exposed to a shipment of costumes, including shoes..." Is there some important chemical or toxin that would more likely be found in the shoes as opposed to the rest of the shipment? Was it necessary to include this extra detail so that the reader would be prepared to read later on that the shoes had been replaced? Was Mr. Wakin trying to fulfill a word count requirement? Or, and I think I may have something here, maybe he's on a personal mission to use the word "shoes" as much as possible in his writings. I'll have to investigate further--stay tuned!