Blackburn, UK-based lighting rental company HSL supplied all stage lighting equipment for the Israeli Opera & Les Choragies d'Orange in France's production of "Aida", staged in a purpose-built amphitheatre at the foot of Masada Mountain at The Dead Sea in Israel.
It was the second year running that HSL has been involved in the event, working for The Design Group, the Israel-based technical production suppliers, who co-ordinated all production elements. The Design Group also built the massive venue in the middle of the desert for the 2010 launch of the brand new Dead Sea & Jerusalem Opera Festival, which featured Verdi's "Nabucco".
Four containers of lighting kit were dispatched by sea freight from the UK and one by road for the production, which featured a creative stage and mountain lighting design by Avi Yono Bueno.
The show incorporated nearly 200 moving lights. The majority were Robes, and HSL also purchased 52 new Martin Professional MAC 3K profiles with framing shutter modules specially for the show to fulfil Avi Yono Bueno’s specific requests. There were nearly 300 ETC Source Four profiles with 10, 19 and 50 degree lenses and over 300 other conventionals including ACL bars, individual PARs and Iris 1 floods.
Masada Mountain played a huge scenic role in the show as a dramatic and beautiful natural backdrop to Emmanuel Favre's Egyptian set. This year, the mountain - also a World Heritage site - was illuminated with a series of fixtures spread out for about a kilometre along its base, including 18 of HSL's new MAC 3 Profiles and 54 bars of 4 600 Watt ACLs. There were also 60 Panther 5K xenon searchlights from Stage Design, all of which were controlled via 12 truss mounting DMX buffers and five Avolites 24-way ART 5K dimmers supplied by HSL.
Data was sent over five systems of City Theatrical wireless DMX (four and a spare) with power supplied by 11 125 KVA generators.
Two large gantries were erected each side of the 65 metre wide stage to facilitate lighting positions, with another at front-of-house behind the uppermost level of the bleacher seating.
The remaining 36 MAC 3s were stationed on these together with 94 Robe ColorSpot 2500E ATs, 78 of which were on the side gantries and 16 on the front. These were utilised for all the basic stage washing and illumination of the cast.
Twenty Robe ROBIN 600 LEDWash fixtures highlighted for set stage right and left, including four scenic sphinxes and a 12 metre high Pharaoh's head upstage centre.
Further set lighting was provided by 12 Robe REDWash 3●192s on the stairs behind the Pharaoh's head, and below a large trap that opened in the stage during the tomb scene towards the end of the performance.
The Robes are said to have stood up well to the tough operating environment again. The 2500s were fitted with custom reflectors which boosted the output by about 30 per cent - a special request from the lighting designer. Some also had custom rectangular and square gobos to enable precise focusing on specific areas of the stage. Bespoke dot gobos in 24 of the Robes were used in the final scene, allowing the stage lighting to be matched to a special LED 'Galaxy Effect' that was happening on the mountain.
The Source Fours were dotted all around the gantries, on the floor, on special stands and under the stage and used for general stage and key lighting. Behind the back of the stage, 16 bars of 250 Watt ACLs provided set candy.
The only PAR cans on the job didn't light the stage but the audience - with eight 6-way bars on the FOH truss and 52 short nose individual cans along the front edge of the stage pointing outwards, augmented with four sets of 4-way Moles.
About 200 metres back from the stage in the outfield, four single PAR cans were positioned 200 metres apart to pick up a camel caravan walk-through during the second half.
The runway leading up to the base of the Pharaoh's head was lit with 76 1K individual cyc units recessed in the ramp walls, strafing the floor.
To enhance nature's atmospherics, HSL supplied 16 K1 smoke machines and F1 fans; four were top mounted on the stage right and left trusses, and the rest dotted around the deck.
Four Robert Juliat Cirano follow spots on truss chairs at FOH saved losing several seats, and two RJ Lancelots were on platforms flanking the FOH lighting control position.
Four 'Dimmer City' locations were established - stage right and left, under the stage and FOH, and dimming hardware (for the stage) comprised eight 48-way Avo ART2000 2K racks, six 72-way Socapex distros, four Type 14 400A switches and six data racks to manage the DMX, of which there were 20 universes.
Verdi's "Aida" at Masada was another huge success for the Israeli Opera. It was directed by Charles Roubaud, conducted by Daniel Oren and enjoyed by 60,000 people over eight nights, once again to great critical acclaim. The site also hosted two other shows as part of the entertainment programme - a Verona Concert and a performance by Andrea Bocelli.
It is one of a number of theatrical productions in which HSL is involved this summer which also includes The Holland Park Opera Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, plus numerous ongoing high profile touring musicals.