L’Enfant et les sortilèges / Der Zwerg lighting design: Jacqueline Sobiszewski.
What does it mean to design the lighting for an opera premiere consisting of two one-act works?
In general, creating the lighting for a new opera production is a lengthy process in which the lighting designer has to cooperate, speak and arrange things with numerous people from different departments. At the Bavarian State we enjoy the companionship of a great crew. There is a lighting manager accompanying the lighting designer, who orders lamps numbers, and assists in finding precise light solutions. Another lighting manager sits in the room handling at least ten screens and keeps hold of everything in the computer. The lighting technicians operate the follow spots by standing at the highest point of the theatre (above the balconies) and spotlighting the singers. In addition, there is somebody giving signs for light changes during the performance making sure the lighting design is implemented correctly. And on top of all that, there is – as a matter of fact – stage director Grzegorz Jarzyna together with his assistant who sometimes counts seconds in order to find the best moments for light changes in the music.
The process of creating stage lighting consists of a number of successive steps. Let us try to point them out. What comes first is to check what kind of equipment is available for the usage on stage. The Bavarian State Opera has a large variety of lighting items available at your disposal.
In addition, lighting designer Jacqueline Sobiszewski has chosen more various sources of light – especially for this production. LED lamps helping to colour space inside the trailer (as you can see it in L’Enfant et les sortilèges), footlights placed on the edge of the stage, linestras which have been fixed to the back of the sound wall made of Plexiglas as well as space lights which hang above the stage and among the trees and beautiful dino lights (used mostly in cinema) in an orange colour, creating the illusion of a sun rise. A special white filter on some of the HMI projectors makes the light softer and – on top of all that – there are a couple of small blends (silver, gold and black) standing backstage and flashing the light.
During Der Zwerg, a huge silver blend flashing light hangs down on the left side of backstage in aim to flash light from the projectors on the right backstage gallery – the effect of this design solution will be seen in the last part of Der Zwerg.
Choosing the equipment is only the first step though. After that, the lighting designer starts to define the colours which will be used during the performance. This is usually done in cooperation with set and costume designers.
Once the set is built on stage and the singers know their choreography within the scenes, the lighting designer configures focus and projector positions and starts to put together the necessary list of cues with the help of the lighting manager. He or she will then begin to actually design lighting which means choosing colours from the palette, trying to create the atmosphere which is sought after on stage, which means an atmosphere corresponding with the story and choosing projectors as well as defining the focus (from the back, from the sides and the front). The designer has to determine how strong the light from each projector should be in every moment, at what point changes should happen and for how long, in which moment follow spots for singers are needed and how to avoid shadows. This part is the most creative one, and every lighting designer builds his or her vision differently. What is significant for Jacqueline Sobiszewski is a kind of painter’s eye with special attention to proportions, composition and atmosphere. You will notice numerous magical images, the play with the decoration and the stage itself will be deep and sometimes enclosed in a small box. Another exceptional aspect of this production is that the audiences will have the chance to observe different ways of lighting: film lights, theatre lights and pure technical light combined with magical foggy landscapes. Enjoy!