Rigoletto Painted with Light for Summer Opera Season

Lighting and visuals designer Luc Peumans from Genk, Belgium based creative practice Painting With Light was commissioned to design lighting for the renowned Summer Opera Alden Biesen’s 2013 season.

They performed Giuseppe Verdi’s ‘Rigoletto’ – to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Italian composer’s birth - in the beautiful environs of the 16th moated castle  of Alden Biesen. The season ran for a month and was, as always, completely sold out.

It was the first time that Peumans had lit a show for the company, which has a great reputation for producing quality works featuring international casts and a leading orchestra. This year’s production was directed by the acclaimed Carlos Wagner.

The performance space is covered by an elegant tensile roof with four large vertical king poles, so these and the metal superstructure of the roof to some extent dictates where the lighting positions can be. This physical parameter and the industrial set designed by Marnik Daert were Peumans’ two primary starting points for lighting the show.

He was also able to get special brackets made up which were attached to some of the castle walls to provide additional hanging points.

Six Clay Paky Alpha Profiles 1200s and 12 x High End Studio Colors were chosen as the moving lights, to which he added 24 PAR 64s, 16 x ETC Source Four Zoom profiles, some mini 500W and 2K fresnels and a series of RGB LED fixtures used to illuminate the set.

He took the style of chiaroscuro or clair-obscur, a ‘lighting’  technique particularly popular in Renaissance painting which accentuates the strong contrasts between light and dark areas using this to achieve a sense of volume when modeling three dimensional objects like people.

 “That was the idea, to light the show exactly so it resembled a painting – very subtle but with real impact in terms of bringing out the detail and the nuances of the set, the performers and their costumes,” explains Peumans.

 So quite literally ‘painting with light’!

Great care was taken in recreating the effects of natural lighting on the stage as required by the work – and to be true to the chiaroscurogenre, elements like sunlight and moonlight had to be very directional and precise.

This took a lot of intense programing but produced some spectacular results.

Peumans adds that he was also very keen not to have a rig above cluttered with lights, so he made the bold move of choosing fewer well-placed and more multi-purpose sources.

He programmed the show with Niels Huybrecht using  a Grandma 2 Light console and all the lighting equipment was supplied by local rental company “New Lines”. 

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