When the managers of De Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp, Belgium, were looking for a new lighting control desk, they were keen to try out options from a range of different manufacturers. Their old desk was coming to the end of its life, and they wanted a newer, modern desk, which could easily operate conventional lights, moving heads, LEDs and media servers.
Meanwhile, the nearby Koninklijk Ballet van Vlaanderen (Royal Ballet Flanders) in Antwerp, with which De Vlaamse Opera is soon set to merge, also began to look for a new lighting desk.
De Vlaamse Opera stages seven productions each season, as well as concerts and recitals in two theatres, (one in Antwerp, one 40 minutes away in Ghent), which also host smaller external productions and ballet performances, with lighting operated by a number of different people with varying specialisms.
Koen Ceulemans, account manager at ETC dealer FACE, explained: “We immediately recommended a desk from ETC’s Eos line. While the opera house’s budget – and control room size – wouldn’t stretch to the full size Eos Titanium, we knew that its smaller sibling, Gio, would be perfect."
Managers from the two organisations had discussions, and although there was no pressure on either to buy the same desk, the Koninklijk Ballet van Vlaanderen also made the decision to get a Gio.
“Eos line consoles are among the main theatre desks worldwide, and the syntax is likely to be familiar to many who have used other manufacturers’ desks in the past.
“ETC has become renowned for manufacturing powerful, future-proofed control desks, and the ongoing free software updates and excellent technical support helped convince the company’s managers that it was the right choice."
FACE lent a Gio console to the opera house for two days, so that they could compare it to the other desk available, to see whether it worked for them. “After that,” Ceulemans said, “they wanted to practice using it to run a full show – creating it in Antwerp, then transferring it to Ghent.”
Glen D’haenens, head of lighting at De Vlaamse Opera, added: “During our full production using Gio, Koen stayed with us for a couple of hours to help and assist, but it turned out we really didn’t need him – we were up to speed so quickly that he could go back to the office.
“Our crew takes care of audio, video and special effects, as well as the standard lighting, which means that everyone needs to be able to operate a lot of different equipment – and the basic functions have to be straightforward. Rather than fixed board operators, we have a roster of different people, which calls for a desk that is completely logical, with easy to remember functions and a syntax that is as simple as spoken language.
“On top of that we needed a desk that is good for programming levels and storing and updating cues. Adjusting times and elaborate timing options needed to be easy to operate and quick to program."
Ceulemans concluded: “We gave the Opera’s technicians our mobile phone numbers in case they had any technical difficulties, but everything went perfectly. They did the complete production, including the transfer, without any help – and from then on, they’ve had the perfect relationship with the console.”
Picture: Tom Dhaenens