The Baalbeck International Festival is the oldest and most prestigious festival in the Middle East. It has been taking place annually during July and August since 1956 within the Roman Acropolis in the ruins of the Baalbek Temples in Lebanon. (Note: The festival chose the spelling “Baalbeck”, however, the spelling of the town of Baalbek does not include the letter â€˜c'.) The temples in Baalbek are not only the largest Roman temples ever built, but also among the best preserved all over the world and considered as one of the wonders of the ancient world.
Dramatic lighting and a unique historic setting provide the background for the variety of performances at the festival, entertaining over 40,000 visitors each summer. The 2009 festival highlight was a performance by Deep Purple on the steps of the ancient Courtyard of the Two Temples to an audience of 7000. Roger Bakhos of Lumen Art in Beirut designed the lighting for the unique “stage” using an arsenal of Clay Paky fixtures.
32 Alpha Beam 300, 16 Alpha Beam 700, and 16 Alpha Spot 1200 HPE, along with 120 LED projectors were used for Deep Purple, in addition to all of the other festival performances, with modifications to the lighting design depending on what type of show was on stage. This was the first time Bakhos had worked with the Alpha Beam 700 fixtures, stating, “This is not just a normal machine – it is a BOMB – a light cannon! Much more powerful than a Xenon search light. What a wonderful, sexy machine.”
While Deep Purple was a popular draw to the 2009 festival, the event also featured jazz bassist Ron Carter, a piano recital by David Fray, a performance by Béjart Ballet Lausanne, plus musicals, modern music and more. The lighting rig not only had to survive the summer heat, but also to be flexible enough for the demanding range of performances.
Bakhos explained, “There was a huge difference in the way of using the fixtures between performances. We had a ballet show, a Lebanese traditional play, an opera, a jazz concert and of course Deep Purple. I love the features of the Clay Paky fixtures, as each one does many different things extremely well and the variety made all things possible.”
Video clips can be found on YouTube and several Deep Purple fan forums.
For more information about Clay Paky products, visit www.claypaky.it.
Photos credit: Courtesy of Lumen Art.