Colored dress “Allesandro Nell’Indie” for the Bayreuth Baroque Opera Festival

Colored dress “Allesandro Nell’Indie” for the Bayreuth Baroque Opera Festival

colorful dress

Germany – Bayreuth, epicenter of creativity and exploration of the world of opera, this year hosted its third Baroque Opera Festival (BBOF) with a lively program of works including “Allesandro Nell’Indie”, lit by French LD David Debrinay using over 50 Robe moving lights, including T1 and T2 profiles and LEDBeam 350.

Three memorable performances conducted by Max Emmanuel Cencic, also the Festival’s artistic director and one of the principals, were presented at the magnificent Margravial Opera House (Markgräfliches Opernhaus). Opened in 1748 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012, the venue reopened in 2018 after extensive renovations. It is also a museum and is only licensed for 30 live performances per year.

David, from Lyon-based design firm LJOMA Studio, and Max have worked on several previous projects, including the other two Bayreuth Baroque Opera Festivals in 2020 and 2021. They share a great imaginative synergy that is essential in a scenario like this- here, where the lighting for a new opera production has to happen in a five or six day period, a super fast and very rushed time frame more often associated with rock & roll.

Several creative starting points for David’s lighting design included Max’s overall direction of the play, Dominico Franchi’s intricate set design with his rolling B stage, and Guiseppe Palella’s elaborate costumes, all of which brought an air of glamor , color, humor and fantasy in Bollywood. on stage as the libretto unfolded.

The five-hour performance revolved around the Indian campaign of Alexander the Great and his defeat of King Poros in 326 BCE at the Battle of Hydaspes.

Kai Fischer, who is locally based and works as a freelance and technical production specialist and director for a range of shows and events, coordinated the Festival’s lighting specifications and supply. He has worked on the Bayreuth Baroque Opera Festival since its inception for event production company TC Promotion which coordinates all production requirements for the festival, and has also worked on a few seasons of the Bayreuth Wagner Festival, so he knows well the city and the place.

As the Margravial Opera House can only present 30 live performances per year, there is no in-house lighting system and all production has to be outsourced. Kai researched the lighting plan, discussed it extensively with David, and then found the best kit to provide his optimal show lighting.

In 2021 there had been some color mixing issues with the chosen moving lights, so this year the priority was to rebrand and make sure everything would be perfect to unleash David’s visual flair to enrich the stock.

One of David’s stipulations was for the color-changing chase spots, which became a pilot as Kai researched flexible LED chase solutions, which first led him to the remote tracking system RoboSpot.

Only LED fixtures can be used in the auditorium of the Margravial Opera House – to reduce heat and preserve the valuable historic setting and environment as well as for durability – so he sought out bright and powerful LED units that would work as chase spots.

Michael Herrmann of Robe Germany recommended that he consider a RoboSpot system coupled with T2 profiles. They were certainly quite bright and had other aesthetic benefits like high CRI, making them ideal for tracking cueing in this type of environment.

As using a RoboSpot system removed the need for operators standing in the tiny FOH spotlight booth, it also eliminated any potential disruption with audible call and scene management signals on the intercom, this which is a source of intense irritation for the notoriously ruthless opera audience!

So having two T2 profiles running on both RoboSpot systems controlled from a behind-the-scenes booth was an ingenious solution. They could change colors, and additionally, when not used as follow lights, the fixtures could be used for other roles in the show.

The quiet operation of the T2 profile also met another challenge. Two other key FOH positions are just 30cm from the nearest viewers sitting literally next to the light fixtures on the edges of the third balcony. Due to the design of the building and its heritage status, no forward trusses can be erected.

Impressed with all the features of the T2 profile, David and Kai spec’d another 20 units on production which were distributed on the LX bars on stage 1, 3, 4 and 6, making a total of 24 T2 profiles.

These were complemented by 12 T1 profiles and 24 LEDBeam 350s.

Four T1s, one each on two towers on either side of the stage, were joined by six on LX2 with the last pair in the very tight stage slide positions on the floor.

In the acute-angled offstage auditorium slide positions, right and left, there was one LEDBeam 350 per side for very steep front washes, with the rest spread across LX 1, 3, 4 and 5 on stage where they worked as general stage wash and for specials.

TC Promotion had purchased eight of its own LEDBeam 350s over the summer, and these were bolstered by a further 16, supplied, along with all other Robe kits, by rental company Motion Group.

“Everyone was thrilled with the choice of lights,” enthused Kai, including the production manager of TV production company Ozango which aired Alessandro Nell’Indie’s performance for broadcaster Arte.

The FOH T2 profile chases running at just 20% were enough to capture the essence and style of the production and make it look great live and on camera.

The RoboSpot Festival operators were also impressed.

This was Stefan Schmidt’s first RoboSpot adventure, so he did some homework beforehand at the Volkstheater in Munich, which also has a system, and found it very easy to learn. Peter Schaarschuh has used it before on The Voice of Germany and was happy to do it again here, appreciating the adaptability and being able to keep up with fast performers.

Before the final lighting specifications were confirmed, Michael from Robe Germany and Kai carried out extensive testing on site to ensure that all fixtures would work as expected.

When considering lighting the show, David had two fundamental principles in mind. He knew the costumes would be colorful, shiny and somewhat glitzy, with lots of diamonds and crystals, so good quality front and white light was crucial to bring out all those details for the audience.

Colors were also an absolute key to energizing the vitality, look and style that everyone wanted for this production.

David needed tight, precise color control for authentic skin tones and good stage makeup handling.

As the floor and walls were dark red, he also needed to dynamically change these main surface colors, glowing with electric reds and blues, bouncy yellows and pungent greens for the duration of the performance, adding depth. to all the stage rooms. , so saturated colors were essential along with effective wash light to add soft hues and sharp detail.

Many requests for a light!

He noted that using a “conventional” chase, he would typically expect to get about four or five shades of the fixture. Using the T2 profiles in this role he could get about 15, 16 or more tints from the fixtures, and these could even move into a benchmark, so he was extremely pleased with that and how the refined light output worked on faces and disguises.

He describes the quality of the T2’s multi-spectral light engine as “astonishing”, especially when layering hue and CT whites delivered by additive color mixing, while maintaining the strength and brightness of saturated colors.

By spreading the emitted light evenly across the entire Planck curve, the T2 provides the widest possible color gamut, while simultaneously providing full and seamless CCT range control.

It was also his first time using the T1 profiles, although “certainly not the last”, and he was very pleased with the compact LEDBeam 350s and their saturated colors.

Working in this incredibly special space was a huge privilege and responsibility for everyone involved, and David and Kai started from scratch on the lighting to make ‘Alessandro Nell’Indie’ a truly magical performance. It was a great experience working with a team of talented and passionate people, all dedicated to making this new production of the work and bringing it to life in such a unique setting.

The lighting was programmed by Matthias Schäflein on an ION Xe console; the two have worked together since the first BBOF.

The 18 artists: six singers, two actors and ten dancers were choreographed by Sumon Rudra, and the work was presented in the traditional Italian Baroque style, with men playing all female roles.

The Orkiestra {oh!} from Poland provided exceptional musical accompaniment, led by principal violinist Martyna Pashuszka.

photos: Louise Stickland

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October 28, 2022

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