After having performed the role of Rodolfo throughout the world, tenor Luciano Pavarotti recently directed a version of La Bohème staged in Fano, on Italy's Adriatic coast. The tenor has a villa in the area and said, “After having received so much from the opera world, it's a great joy for me to give it something.”
The production played in the Teatro della Fortuna, a small gem of a theatre built in the mid-1800s that hosted the Puccini masterpiece on December 20th, 23rd, and 27th. Its small stage created considerable problems for LD Jean Paul Carradori, who adopted some interesting solutions, such as the use of SGM Palco LED fixtures, which won the ETS-LDI 2004 Architectural Lighting Product of the Year Award. “The stage measures just 14m by 8.5m [46'×28'], and there was a lot of scenery — up to 20' high and with stairs running up and down — so one of the main problems was lighting the backdrop, for which I only had 40cm [15.75"] at my disposal,” Carradori explains. “This obviously ruled out the use of conventional instruments, which could also overheat. I used six SGM Palco units in rear projection, because they don't emit heat, have a very small footprint, and have good color rendering. I also appreciated their dimming characteristics, since we were using very low light levels.”
Carradori was given free reign by Pavarotti, with the exception of avoiding violet and keeping in mind the required light levels for the video crew recording the rehearsals and the show. Carradori used 20 PARs — a combination from ETC and Italian manufacturer Spotlight — plus two 2.5K Niethammer followspots. The rig also included six SGM Giotto 400 Profile moving head units due to their flexibility in reduced operating space. “I used them from their positions in the very limited wings for high cuts, to create reflections, and to profile actors,” Carradori says. “They did a brilliant job with excellent light quality, plus they enabled me to do more with less.”
Carradori used a variety of Rosco gobos on the Profiles. “In Act III, I used four Profiles at different heights (level with the cyc) equipped with Undulation gobos. I used various foliage gobos in the Spotlight 250 discharge Profiles for the walls of the buildings,” he explains. “In Act II on the scrim, I used an inclined French Windows gobo with a Plume image glass, and in Act III, I used a projected Brushstroke 2 and a 445006B stippled Colorize on the 9'×9' cyc.”
Since it was impossible to illuminate directly from the front and in order to give the set a bit more body, the LD also used the Giotto moving head units' textures. He explained that the limited number of lighting positions also affected the cast “who had to memorize very precise positions to ensure they were properly illuminated, since all the light beams entered the set through windows or from corners.”
A deliberately faulty neon tube was used to create the flicker effect in Act III. “Neon with color gels also helped solve a few problems for other points, such as arches and windows, that were impossible to reach with normal means,” he adds.
Carradori controlled the rig using an ADB Mentor desk for the conventionals and two PCs running Nicolaudie-Sunlite software for the moving head units. “I find the program very fast and intuitive for both programming and real-time manual work during the shows,” he says.
Paolo Buroni designed a projection setup using four Stark 1200 projectors installed in offices opposite the venue, which covered the entire 40m × 20m (131'×65.6') theatre façade with projections of the theatre's sumptuous interior and the event's poster. Buroni enthuses, “Pavarotti was so pleased with the results that a system that can be expanded up to six projectors has been designed to follow the opera on its tour schedule.”
After the opera's short run in Fano, Carradori (whose resumé includes work with The Clash, Laurie Anderson, and U2, as well as theatre, ballet, and opera) debuted in Novara with Faust, directed by Beppe De Tommasi, for which he promised some spectacular lighting. He concluded, “This Bohème production was a particularly successful integration of a variety of light sources — LED, neon, conventionals, and moving head fixtures — and the seamless visual results were extremely satisfying.”