Opened in 1908, Teatro ColÃ³n in Buenos Aires, Argentina is considered one of the most prestigious opera houses in the world. Renowned for both its architecture and magnificent acoustics, it has hosted such stars as Maria Callas, Richard Strauss, Arturo Toscanini, Igor Stravinsky, Enrico Caruso, and Luciano Pavarotti. But over time, the opera house began to show signs of its age and was in need of a technological update. When Mayor Mauricio Macri gave the approval to move forward with the redesign, Teatro Colon turned to acclaimed lighting designer Ernesto Diz who enlisted the help of Stage Tech SRL and Philips Entertainment for a complete lighting design renovation.
“Teatro Colon is one of the most celebrated buildings in all of Argentina,” said Antonio Agra, CEO of Stage Tech SRL. “When we were contacted by Ernesto to supply the gear for the lighting system renovation we were honored to become a part of Teatro Colon history.”
With a total seat capacity of 2478, Luciano Pavarotti once described the acoustics of Teatro Colon as so perfect that they challenge singers because “if one does something wrong, it is noted immediately.” But as it happens with all magnificent structures over time, the state of the building deteriorated. Balconies were blocked off, walls suffocated under coats of paint, and the stage equipment had become obsolete. Teatro ColÃ³n has undergone small updates before, but had never had a full overhaul. When the city government decided on a full facelift for Teatro Colon it was the most expensive heritage restoration in Argentina's history, but was needed to improve both the building's structure and to bring it up to date technologically.
Agra continued, “Teatro Colon has a reputation for showcasing some of most magnificent Opera productions throughout the world. In order to keep that reputation intact, we knew that the lighting equipment used would have to offer the most-up-to-date technology, but would also have to perform in a real-world environment night after night.”
Ernesto Diz, a distinguished consultant in lighting and stage machinery was placed in charge of the lighting system's specification. As the founder of Estudio Diz and a professor of lighting design at Buenos Aires University, Diz also knew the demands that new lighting system would be under. He needed equipment that would show the opera community that Teatro Colon had remained dedicated to upholding the highest standards for acoustics and performance while bringing in the most advanced lighting technology to date. To do this, Diz decided upon a lighting package from Philips Entertainment.
Agra added, “When you look at installing a complete lighting package for a building of the magnitude of Teatro Colon, you want to make sure that the products used have the same tradition of success. Philips Entertainment products have that tradition of success. VARI*LITE luminaires are the standard by which all automated luminaires are compared. Strand dimming products have been in the industry longer than any other and their silent IGBT dimmers were perfect for the acoustical challenges. And when looking at theatrical fixtures that deliver power and performance consistency, we had to go with Selecon luminaires.”
In total, Stage Tech provided Diz with 48 VARI*LITE luminaires, 424 Selecon luminaires, and over 860 Strand Lighting dimmers.
“There was a tremendous amount of work that went into this project, but it was worth every moment,” said Agra. “Being able to work with a talented designer in Ernesto to install a fantastic lighting system in one of the most important buildings in all of Argentina was a dream come true for both me and Stage Tech.”
On May 24, 2010, Teatro Colon reopened its newly renovated doors with a tremendous Gala concert and celebration. Since then, Teatro Colon lighting manager Jorge Perez has been putting the lighting system to the test with very pleasing results.
Agra concluded, “As I speak with Jorge to get updates on the system, I am told that both he and the lighting crew are extremely delighted with the performance of all the Vari-Lite, Selecon and Strand Lighting products. As we look back on the renovation, we know Argentina can once again be proud of Teatro Colon and Philips Entertainment played a big role in making it all possible.”