Opera Australia Installs BlackTrax

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As one of the world’s busiest opera companies, Opera Australia presents more than 600 performances every year, more than half a million people see their work on stage. Recently, Opera Australia decided to outfit their theater with a new custom lighting rig, alongside a full BlackTrax system. They also use CAST Group’s wysiwyg software for light programming.

Before installation, to be educated consumers, Opera Australia tried and tested different brands. Ultimately, it was BlackTrax that emerged as the obvious tracking solution by ensuring full and unimpeded theatre coverage.

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Lyndon Terracini, Artistic Director of Opera Australia, found BlackTrax to be a versatile solution that was able to accommodate for unplanned and spontaneous changes behind the curtains:

“BlackTrax is a genuinely exciting advancement in lighting technology. For Opera Australia, it allows us to ‘find’ and ‘follow’ the singers wherever they might be, and in opera performances we often have singers arriving late or substituting for another artist at very short notice. BlackTrax gives us flexibility and allows us to do this with a minimum of fuss.”

Opera Australia’s new production of Madama Butterfly by Graeme Murphy is filled with a plethora of new tech toys, including double revolves, 16 LED screens, laser projectors, and the incorporation of a new repertory moving light rig and both of CAST’s flagship products, wysiwyg and BlackTrax.

Designer Michael Scott Mitchell provided approximately 600 renders and DWGs of screen positions and content. Damien Cooper, the Lighting Designer of the production, was particularly concerned with the difficulty of finding that sweet spot of balance. There were instances where AV was turned off during rehearsal, which showed the team just how bright the lighting rig was against the AV. Luckily, AV Designer Sean was collaborative in balancing the stage. The Programmer, John Llwelyn, was handling direction from Damien Cooper in addition to AV and BlackTrax triggers. Jason Morphet was the BlackTrax Programmer of the show.

BlackTrax was chosen for the complete choice of angle for the follow spots. Madama Butterfly used a ghost gauze for projection which limited traditional follow spot angles.

Time was the biggest enemy on this show: the team spent two days with wysiwyg preprogramming lighting cues. In the end, there were about 90 minutes of dark time before the cast came on stage. The team had two three-hour sessions to tech this show, with all these ingredients, and two casts of principals.

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Opera Australia is the biggest employer in the Australian arts industry, employing a huge range of people including stage managers, wigmakers, scenic artists and even a lifesaver, to name just a few. Opera Australia regularly works with some of the world’s most prestigious houses to create co-productions of powerful, often lesser-known operas. 

We are excited to see how BlackTrax is used in future in this forward-thinking venue.

Conductor     

  • Massimo Zanetti (until 6 Jul)
  • Nicholas Milton (11–25, 29, 31 Jul; 1, 2, 3 Aug)
  • Brian Castles-Onion (27 Jul; 6, 7, 10 Aug)

Director           

  • Graeme Murphy

Creative Associate   

  • Janet Vernon

Production Designer             

  • Michael Scott-Mitchell

Costume Designer     

  • Jennifer Irwin

Lighting Designer

  • Damien Cooper

Master Electrician & BlackTrax Diviner

  • Jason Morphett

Lighting Programmer

  • John Llewelyn
  • Suzy Brooks

Lighting Supervisor

  • David Parsons
  • Catherine Alexander

Opera Theatre Head Electrician

  • Kyle Bockmann

Followspot Operators

  • Jemima Flett
  • Graham Buck

Floor Electrics

  • Lindsay Williams
  • Jake Mortimer

Digital Content

  • Sean Nieuwenhuis

Assistant Director    

  • Shane Placentino

Lighting Equipment and Extras    

  • Chameleon Touring Systems, lighting and lighting hires

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