With the launch of the new cruise ship, AIDAsol, for AIDA Cruises in April 2011, it was decided to take the name of the vessel as the impetus for the main show. The idea consolidated around the effect of sunlight in the desert: mirages (in German, “fata morgana”) and the idea of what fantastical worlds could possibly be within a mirage. The challenge was to make the show elaborate and visually impressive while fitting easily into the existing technical framework of the ship, which is the fifth in the series. Multiple shows each evening and limited storage space were major challenges in the design process.

The “Theatrium” is an open theatre at the center of the ship extending over three decks and featuring a moving multi-panel LED screen as the central element of the stage with several movable podiums allowing variable configurations as well as performers and set pieces to be raised from below the stage. The production features original music with six singers, eight dancers, and three acrobatic artists allowing the show to operate at different levels concurrently with singers and or dancers on stage while the artists perform routines at a height of up to 9m over the audience.

The curtain opens to video content of a desert rippling in the scorching sunlight. The imagery quickly becomes immersive as a sand-like cloth drops in front of the LED wall, rapidly extending over the entire stage. Dancers appear to float above the surface as a singer rises out of the sand. At night, a lone figure sings and fishermen cast nets into the desert sand as an acrobat takes wing in a net above their heads. The morning brings us to a bustling market. A fakir appears and takes control of the scene. The market stalls are combined to form a ceremonial elephant which is revealed to be a cage containing a captive “bird” that flies to freedom in an aerial tissue acrobatic act in the center of the room as a beautiful ballad floats from the stage. Scarabs scuttle out of the darkness underground to dance homage to their king (a phenomenal contortionist) before the finale brings light and color back to the stage.

Specially created video content provides the main visual impetus for the show with the moving LED wall divided into six strips, providing a variable landscape for the performers to move around, from the searing light of daytime in the desert, to the depth of color at night time; from the shrouded mystery of the Fakir, to the enlightenment of the bird flying to freedom; from the darkness of the catacombs, to the vibrant finale. The lighting works to support the visual impetus while never being intrusive.

The elaborate costumes are also a major visual element in the show, with opulent fabrics and designs providing a unique flavor to each scene while providing uninhibited freedom for the performers to work. Frequent standing ovations indicate that the production has fulfilled its design goal of maximum impact despite limiting conditions.

Creative Team
AIDA Entertainment, Hamburg, Production
Martin Lingnau, Composer
Laris Gec, Director and Choreographer
Dirk Zilken, Costume Design
Wieder Design/Florian Wieder, Stage & Prop Design
Hilton Jones, Lighting Design
Gravity/Falk Rosenthal, Video Design
Philipp S. Herbst, Lighting and Video Programming
Malte Polli-Holstein and Hendrik Maassen, Audio Design

Vendors
Stage & Flying: EAE & Giess
Soft goods: Chameleon, Hamburg
Props: Studio Hamburg & Prop-Art, Hamburg

Equipment
Lighting

14 Martin Professional MAC 2000 Profile
6 Martin Professional Professional MAC 2000XB Wash
16 Martin Professional MAC 700 Wash
16 Martin Professional MAC 250 Wash
10 Martin Professional Tripix 1200 LED Striplight
24 ETC Source Four Zoom
MA Lighting grandMA 2 Light

Video
108 Barco iLite6 Black LED Panels (mounted on six individually motorized frames)
Coolux Pandoras Box Media Server Pro

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