Lighting rental specialist HSL supplied stage lighting, sub-rigging and trussing, architectural and site-wide practical and decorative illumination, electrics, power distribution, and full public address announcement PA – for the 2015 Opera Holland Park festival season in west London.
The 3 month performance run included five cutting edge opera productions staged in the tensile structure erected by the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) in its picturesque park, with the historical ruin of Holland House as an atmospheric backdrop.
HSL has been involved as a technical production supplier for the event for the last 12 years, in which time the lighting requirements and expectations have changed radically. What was once primarily a generic rig onstage now features nearly 90 moving lights … with another 200 light sources supplied by HSL to light the surrounding and immediately connected areas.
Over the last two years HSL has pushed towards lighting the site and gardens with an increasing amount of LED – for all the obvious reasons – and because the event is also keen to be as eco-conscious as possible.
Opera Holland Park is also a project that has been nurtured by HSL’s MD Simon Stuart, who comments, “We are always delighted to be involved in this high profile event and it’s a pleasure to work alongside Opera Holland Park’s general manager Michael Volpe and operations manager Kasete Skeen, together with the site LX crew, all of whom have worked hard to present top quality productions”.
HSL’s John Slevin project managed for the Blackburn based company, and oversaw the get-in and build, undertaken by an HSL crew of seven including Jack Champion, who went on to become the chief LX for the run of performances.
The increased moving light count and other technology onstage gave the different lighting designers involved – Richard Howell, Howard Hudson, Tim Mascall and Mark Jonathan – the flexibility and scope they needed to light five very diverse productions.
More moving lights on the rig also made the changeovers – up to three productions were run in rep style at any one time – quicker and smoother.
As well as the fantastic drama onstage, the emphasis on architectural and environmental lighting adds enormously to the ambience of the evening. This essential scene setting was “A primary objective of the lighting brief” explained John.
With that in mind, HSL made available six of their new SGM G-Spot moving lights, utilised in key strategic positions around the exterior of the tensile structure, gardens, entranceways and three large hospitality marquees.
These were chosen for their power and high impact effects which were visible even in the twilight. As the operas started during daylight hours, it was important to enhance the environment then as guests arrived and enjoyed their pre-show mingling … as well as after dark when the impact was obvious.
The production lighting rig has been developed and tweaked by HSL over the years – also upgraded as new technology comes online – and this year featured an impressive 87 moving lights including 9 x Martin MAC 3s, 8 x Martin MAC 2K XBs, 24 x Robe ColorWash 750 Tungstens and 32 x Robe REDWash 3.192s. These were positioned on a series of overhead and advance trusses, sub-hung from the tensile roof superstructure that was temporarily installed at the site. This is a tricky and delicate rigging process which has also been streamlined by the HSL team.
The moving lights were joined by 40 x ETC Source Four profiles with assorted lenses – 14 of which were fitted with Chroma-Q Broadway scrollers – and 16 x PAR cans with a mix of CP61 and 62 bulbs. All these conventional fixtures were spread out across the trusses – over stage and above the audience – and on eight side-stage booms.
Two Robert Juliat Korrigan follow spots were on hand if needed and an ETC EOS console ran all the lighting via two separate partitions, one for the stage / production lighting and one for all the site elements, complete with an Ion desk for backup.
The desk was operated for the shows by Jack and his two deputy LXs, Paul Walmsley and Callum Humphries.
The site lighting was a mix of 200 practical and safety lights plus some of the decorative aspects covering all the public areas including bars and walkways, together with five distinctive areas … Dutch Gardens Lounge, the Picnic Deck, the Terrace Lounge, the Oak Room and the Foyer Bar.
In addition to the already mentioned SGM G-Spots, these LED fixtures including Robe CitySkape 48s, CitySource 96s and LEDForce 18 PARs, JTE PixelPAR 87s and Chroma-Q Color Block 2s, were spread throughout these areas, highlighting the structures, pathways, trees and foliage, etc.
This attention to detail around the site resulted in the creation of a tasteful, attractive special environment for guests to encounter at the start of their Opera Holland Park experience.
Date of issue : 18th August 2015.
Photos : Louise Stickland