It would have to be the Finnish National Opera's recent production of Der Rosenkavalier in Helsinki, which features three enormous mirrors as scenic centrepieces. Directed and designed by Marco Arturo Marelli, the mirrors were vital in presenting the onstage action as well as the details of the intricately painted stage.
To get these massive mirrors hoisted, FNO's production manager Timo Tuovila approached UK-based Summit Steel which supplied a Kinesys automation system to help fly and automate the mirrors that were suspended over the stage using 12 Model LL Lodestar Hoists, controlled by Kinesys Vector software, running via 12 Kinesys Elevation 1+ variable speed hoist controllers. Each mirror was mounted on to a box of tower truss, and lifted by four LL Lodestars, converted to run via the Elevation 1+ controller. The mirrors were stored in the fly tower, suspended from two of their motors.
“The idea of the whole production was the moving floor, which would be reflected via the mirrors. In each of the three acts, there was a different mirror for a different printed floor,” Tuovila explains. “The floor moves so slowly that you don't notice it, but the audience will notice the change after half an hour when something has obviously happened, they're just not sure what has changed. Artistically, the reason for doing this was to show that time moves forward as the main character ages during the opera.”
Before the curtain rises, the Act I mirror is lowered onto the stage and re-slung, using all four of its motors, before being lifted back up into show position. It's then moved at key moments throughout the act to pick up the set or action as needed. As Act I ends, the rigging/storage process is reversed and started again with the next mirror, which was the most critical point of the show, Tuovila says. “We only have 25 minutes to change the mirror as well as the rolling floor during the two intermissions so it was a challenging production with such big pieces, but you ain't seen nothing yet!” he says referring to FNO's premiere of Pique Dame next fall that will require statues, beams, cranes, and 50 TV monitors moving above the actors.