Robert Juliat Cyrano 2500w HMI followspots have won a lighting shootout at the San Diego Opera. The new instruments made their debut in Tannhauser, the first production of the Opera’s 2008 season.

“In the nine years I’ve been here we’ve had other products for FOH followspots, and they’ve never been quite bright enough,” notes Chris Rynne, the San Diego Opera’s resident lighting designer and lighting supervisor. “Other stage lighting was getting brighter and we needed the followspots to have the same power. As we started doing bolder shows we needed extra punch to pull out the leads. So I pushed the idea that followspots would do the job,” he continues. “But I wanted followspots that were not only good for today but could also make the jump to next-generation productions. I was looking for something that would be good for the operators, have a great output and last a long time.”

Ranked one of the top 10 opera companies in the US by Opera America, the San Diego Opera was founded in 1950 to present San Francisco Opera productions to the San Diego community. It became a producing company in its own right in 1965 and stages a five-month season annually.

When funding became available, Opera management asked Rynne to arrange a selection of products so they could make an informed decision about which followspots to invest in. He set up a shootout with Robert Juliat Cyrano and products from Strong and Lycian, which representatives from the Opera’s business and artistic departments attended.

“We needed a light that would punch through a throw of 100 feet,” Rynne explains. “Our operator went through all the lights to see how he liked them. He said Cyrano felt great—all its controls were laid out in the right place for really smooth operation. And he could do irising and dousing at the same time. The lamp was bright and easy to use; there was no tuning involved so Cyrano could be optimized right away. And the light was well made. It felt like a really solid ship.”

Cyrano held other attractions, too, such as variable frost, built-in color correction, and die-cut slots. “No matter what kind of color palette you have, you don’t have to waste a spot for frost,” Rynne points out. “You know you have to use frosts so why not make it an integral part of the product?”

In short, “Cyrano passed the shoot out with flying colors.”

The Opera was also concerned about silent operation since the FOH followspot positions are in the auditorium and not in a booth. “We needed to be able to hear a pin drop,” says Rynne. “It’s very important that the lights don’t squeak and that they have quiet fans. Fred Lindauer at Robert Juliat brought the Cyrano for the shoot and pledged that they were really quiet.”

Product performance and Robert Juliat USA’s strong customer service sealed the decision for Cyrano. The Opera purchased three Cyrano followspots from Miami’s Stage Equipment and Lighting and immediately began using them in the current season’s productions.

“Everyone is very happy with Cyrano,” Rynne reports. “Operators have given the light positive reviews. They are very comfortable to use, the controls are in all the right places, and they put out so much light that they really cut through the stage lighting— and that’s what we need them to do.”