Blackburn, UK, based lighting rental company HSL supplied all stage lighting equipment and crew to the acclaimed Israeli Opera production of Verdi's Nabucco, staged at a new purpose-built open air site in the middle of the desert on the World Heritage site of Masada Mountain .... by the Dead Sea in Israel.
HSL was brought onboard by Jerusalem and Tel Aviv based Stage Design, who supplied all the technical infrastructure for the high profile 6 day event, and built most of the site. It was the first time the two companies had collaborated, which happened after HSL came highly recommended by several contacts.
HSL's project manager Mike Oates says, "We were delighted to win the contract. Working with the Stage Design team has been a real pleasure. They have the same vision and dedication to providing great service, cutting edge technology and top people as we do. There were many challenges, but that is all part of the uniqueness of dealing with site specific events".
HSL sea freighted all the gear - which included over 100 Robe moving lights including the first 20 of the new ColorBeam 2500E ATs off the production line after their launch 2 months ago at the Prolight+Sound exhibition in Frankfurt. They dispatched an experienced crew consisting of crew chief Ian Stevens, Charlotte Stevens, Gabriel Cross and Rob "Starkers" Starksfield, who worked tirelessly in the 47 degree heat, dust, dirt, wind and occasional sandstorms to rig and tech the show for lighting designer Avi Yona Bueno (Bambi).
Says Oates, "This was an incredibly tough and challenging gig for our crew from many perspectives. They did a brilliant job, really proving themselves as true HSL ambassadors on the road. Hats off to them!"
All the lighting fixtures were mounted on two 19 metre high by 24 metre deep side stage lighting gantries set 52 metres apart, a FOH lighting gantry and around the sides and front of the stage, on special off-setting stands.
With the dramatic backdrop of Masada Mountain directly behind the stage, there could be no conventional rear lighting positions. With the distances that needed to be covered, 84 of Robe's powerful ColorSpot 2500E ATs were specified, some of them fitted with bespoke reflectors and framing shutter gobos manufactured by Robe, allowing Bambi the very tight, intensely bright beams that he wanted to isolate specific areas of the stage at certain times.
HSL also supplied 24 Martin Professional Mac III Wash units which were positioned either side of stage.
The Robe ColorBeam 2500E ATs were rigged under the stage pointing up through grilled sections and 24 Robe REDWash 3●192 LED wash fixtures were mounted on the special brackets around the stage front and edges, used for casting powerful washes and slices of saturated colour across the main stage area.
Over 300 PAR cans were an integral part of the rig, together with over 200 ETC Source Fours, with a mix of 10, 36 and 50 degree lenses. These were used for key and secondary lighting. Twenty strings of ACLs were positioned behind the numerous stage entrances and exits.
Upstage right at the top of the gantry, were 3 x Hungaroflash T-Light Pro mega strobes. They had their moment when the show's main protagonist Nabucco is struck down by God - an effect needing no compromises! For additional strobe effects, 24 Atomic 3000 Colours were dotted around the rig.
At FOH were 6 Robert Juliat Cyrano follow spots, 4 of them rigged on newly fabricated truss mount seats to maximise all possible height.
For atmospheric enhancements HSL supplied 12 of their Martin K1 smoke machines, which came out with a palette of fluid and had their work cut out to compete with the natural meteorology and space of the desert!
The control set up included 4 of HSL's proprietary 72 way 'hot' power racks and 2 x 24 way versions, together with 8 Avo 48-way and 2 x 24-way ART 2K dimmer racks. A City Theatrical wireless DMX system was installed to feed data to 60 xenon searchlights located in the 17000 metre boulder strewn wilderness area between the back of the stage and the foot of the mountain.
All lighting was controlled through a Compulite Vector Red console, with another for backup. The programming was undertaken by Alon Cohen and David "Vinnie" Vinnik, who spent a week prior to the show in the Opera's WYSIWYG studio, getting the basic building blocks into the desk before coming on site, where time was extremely tight.
HSL worked closely with two designated local lighting techs from crewing company Betty Bam, and in particular Saffril "Saffi" Dagan, who also came to Blackburn to work on the prep and loading of the containers - staying a little longer than expected, due to the ash cloud from Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull Volcano closing down European airspace for 6 days. They all enjoyed some great teamwork and fun on site.
The show - which included many world firsts - was a great all-round success, and now the site is built - the Opera is planning to return next year for another season.
Eyal Lavee says, "Working with HSL has been fantastic in every way. They are a truly professional company with the best attitude and excellent equipment. Conditions on site were gruelling and thoroughly testing for people and equipment, and even through the most challenging moments, everyone kept smiling and getting on with it".
For more press info on the HSL Group, please contact Louise Stickland on +44 (0)1865 202679/+44 (0)7831 329888 or Email [email protected] Contact HSL direct on +44 (0)1254 698808, ‘[email protected]' or check www.hslgroup.com.
Crew photo caption : L-R is Gabriel Cross, Rob "Starkers" Starksfield, Charlotte Stevens, Ian Stevens