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Opera lighting
Opera lighting
Opera lighting
Opera lighting
Opera lighting
Opera lighting
Opera lighting
Opera lighting
Opera lighting
Opera lighting
Opera lighting
Opera lighting
Opera lighting
Opera lighting
Opera lighting
Opera lighting
Opera lighting
Opera lighting
Opera lighting
Opera lighting
Opera lighting
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Opera lighting
Opera lighting
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Opera lighting
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Opera lighting

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  • 1. Opera Lighting The ‘elite’ designers ? Pieter Ploeg Graduation dissertation Bachelor Programme Theatre theatre making, technical theatre arts de Theaterschool Amsterdam School of Arts
  • 2. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? “A peculiar and creative energy flows from opera, an energy that I actually do not understand, moreover because the realisation of opera requires so much energy from all concerned personnel. It is fascinating to see that a total of two hundred operas on the world are performed again and again. People continuously watch Carmen, La Traviata and La Bohème, knowing that these pieces have been, are being, and will be performed in countless opera houses around the world. That gives me a strange, surrealistic consciousness of a desire on which I don’t actually have an answer.” Jean Kalman, summer 1999 1
  • 3. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Preface & Acknowledgements First of all I simply love opera. To me opera is the most varied and versatile art form currently existing. It is the genre where music, spoken word, movement and image come together. A real ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ (collective artwork) as Richard Wagner calls it. Moreover, it is one of the few forms of contemporary theatre that can really captivate and fascinate me. Together with my interest in lighting design as part of the collaborative designing process in opera I felt the need to examine the world of lighting design in the working environment of contemporary opera. As a student in theatre technology I have many interests but most of them are not particularly found within the working field of modern theatre technology. Therefore I call myself a bit of an outsider when it comes to theatre technology, sound design and lighting design. Opera, however, makes me experience the magic of theatre and has a substantial influence on my cultural life. For this reason I experienced an energetic drive while performing certain parts of the research for this dissertation. I sincerely hope this dissertation is of any help to you in whatever form. The writing style is kept quite formal. I hereby thank Hugo van Uum for his helpful comments, Daphne Richter for her patience and her great advises, Jelmer Tuinstra for his small but wise additions, Mike van Galen for his encouragements, Reyer and Edith Ploeg for their compelling arguments and all of my friends for their interest. Pieter Ploeg, Amsterdam, Saturday, 12 January 2008 © Pieter Ploeg, Amsterdam, January 2008 2
  • 4. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Contents Preamble ..........................................................................................................................5 Introduction......................................................................................................................6 Chapter 1. Research origin & framework .......................................................................7 1.01. Subject resources ..............................................................................................7 1.02. Graphic analyses .............................................................................................10 1.1. The thesis .............................................................................................................12 1.2. Framework of the research ...................................................................................13 1.2.1. Consulted literature.........................................................................................13 Clearly defined literary research............................................................................13 1.2.2. Interviews .......................................................................................................14 1.2.3. Target group ...................................................................................................14 1.2.4. Representativeness of the research................................................................14 1.2.5. The outcome of the research ..........................................................................15 Chapter 2. Brief history of opera ..................................................................................16 2.1. What is opera? ......................................................................................................16 2.2. Origin of opera ......................................................................................................17 2.3. Globalisation of opera ...........................................................................................18 Chapter 3. History of opera lighting design.................................................................20 3.1. The memoirs of Richard Wagner...........................................................................20 3.2. The answer of Adolphe Appia ...............................................................................21 Chapter 4. Opera lighting design..................................................................................23 4.1. Opera houses, a condition for another lighting method?........................................23 4.2. Lighting an opera, a play, or dance as regards content .........................................24 4.2.1. The soloist ......................................................................................................24 4.3. The role of music in the designing process............................................................25 4.4. The economical aspect .........................................................................................27 4.4.1. State support ..................................................................................................27 Germany ...............................................................................................................27 United States of America ......................................................................................28 Italy .......................................................................................................................29 The Netherlands ...................................................................................................29 4.4.2. Planning in advance .......................................................................................30 4.4.3. Repertory........................................................................................................30 4.5. The internationality of the work circumstances ......................................................31 4.6. Origin of the current lighting designer....................................................................31 Chapter 5. Analyses of the interviews..........................................................................33 5.1. Duane Schuler, USA; the economic conditions .....................................................34 5.1.1. Short biographical introduction........................................................................34 5.1.2. The interview ..................................................................................................34 5.1.3. Interview notes ...............................................................................................36 Time......................................................................................................................36 Equipment.............................................................................................................36 3
  • 5. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Quality ..................................................................................................................36 5.2. John B. Read, Great Britain; the accurate preparation ..........................................37 5.2.1. Short biographical introduction........................................................................37 5.2.2. The interview ..................................................................................................37 5.2.3. Interview notes ...................................................................................................40 Time......................................................................................................................40 Equipment.............................................................................................................40 5.3.1. Short biographical introduction........................................................................42 5.3.2. The interview ..................................................................................................42 5.3.3 Interview notes ................................................................................................45 Internationality.......................................................................................................45 Genre....................................................................................................................45 5.4. Jean Kalman, France; nothing is equal .................................................................46 5.4.1. Short biographical introduction........................................................................46 5.4.2. The interview ..................................................................................................46 5.4.3. Interview notes ...............................................................................................49 Time......................................................................................................................49 Opera, the long planning .......................................................................................49 Conclusion .....................................................................................................................50 Investigation recommendation .....................................................................................53 Addendum......................................................................................................................54 Summary ........................................................................................................................55 Enumerative Bibliography ............................................................................................56 Literature ..................................................................................................................56 Websites...................................................................................................................57 Endnotes ........................................................................................................................58 4
  • 6. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Preamble This dissertation is part of the graduating process of the Bachelor programme Theatre Making, technical theatre arts at the Amsterdam School of Arts. This process took over a year from the first preparation until the final result. The subject of this dissertation has been chosen in September 2006 in agreement with the dissertation supervisor. Between September 2006 and January 2007 a pre-research has been executed on the subject, which resulted in an action plan for the main research. The internal dissertation supervisor approved this action plan in January 2007. Beside the notes of the pre-research to a comprehensive subject and the action plan written in January 2007, this preface was the first part of this dissertation. The action plan has been used as a framework to define and refine the path to a fulfilling research in the planned time schedule. The final version of the action plan included a further investigation and plans for the representativeness of the research, a refined definition of the thesis and an improved version of the planning and schedule. In the introduction the subject of this dissertation will be explained, as well as the formulation of the thesis, the research methods and the consulted sources. This dissertation is written in English since the target group of this dissertation is international. To assist the author of this dissertation in the research process an external supervisor has been invited. The external supervisor needed to be someone from the field of study. Hugo van Uum, head of the lighting department of the Dutch national opera house in Amsterdam, Het Muziektheater1, was willing to assist the author during the research. As head of the lighting department he works with international lighting designers for opera and dance. Because of his working experience and practical knowledge he is able to reflect on the examined sources and help the author with helpful comments. 1 Het Muziektheater is the theatre of residence for De Nederlandse Opera (The Dutch Opera) and Het Nationale Ballet (the Dutch National Ballet). This means they do not just present their Amsterdam performances here, but they also produce them at Het Muziektheater. Gastprogrammering (the guest programming organisation of Het Muziektheater) invites companies and productions from around the world. Het Muziektheater is also the home base for the Holland Symfonia Orchestra.  http://www.het-muziektheater.nl 5
  • 7. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Introduction The subject of the field of study for this dissertation was chosen due to an interest after having seen several opera shows in the opera house in Amsterdam where many lighting designers from abroad appeared in the credits being responsible for the lighting design. Therefore the first question that eventually led to the thesis was:  Why are almost all lighting designers for opera in the opera house in Amsterdam of foreign origin? This is an interesting fact because when one thinks of opera as being one of the most well financed theatrical art forms, it is expectable that well-known lighting designers work together with the famous directors and conductors contracted at the Amsterdam opera house. Why don’t the Dutch lighting designers that work in the largest national theatre -, dance - and musical productions also work in the national opera house? In this dissertation the research is specifically about the national opera house in Amsterdam, Het Muziektheater, not about De Nationale Reisopera, a considerably large Dutch opera company based in Enschede. De Nationale Reisopera contracted eight foreign lighting designers for twenty-one opera productions between 2004 and 2008, which is approximately 62%. 2 The biggest theatre production company in the Netherlands, Toneelgroep Amsterdam, contracted approximately 16%3 foreign lighting designers, although this company often works with resident designers. Even the difference between Toneelgroep Amsterdam and De Nationale Reisopera is already interesting, but this difference is not particularly interesting or surprising compared to the foreign character of Het Muziektheater. Het Muziektheater Amsterdam contracted approximately 95% foreign lighting designers. Notice that some designers returned more or less, or did multiple productions or cycles in a season, often together with specific directors. 2 Archive of De Nationale Reisopera, www.reisopera.nl 3 Archive of Toneelgroep Amsterdam, www.toneelgroepamsterdam.nl 6
  • 8. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Chapter 1. Research origin & framework To give an example of the interesting fact of the internationality in opera as described in the introduction here follows a list of composers, directors and lighting designers and their nationality that composed, directed and designed operas that have been performed in the Muziektheater Amsterdam between 2000 and 2008. The table is coloured to highlight particular attention points. The author of this dissertation attended the productions in red. Coloured table cells are artists with the same nationality in one production. Black outlined cells are recurring designing duos. Underlined lighting designer have been interviewed during the research for this dissertation. 1.01. Subject resources 2000/2001 composer director lighting designer Capriccio Richard Strauss Andreas Homoki Franck Evin Król Roger Karol Szymanowski Johannes Schaaf Manfred Voss Il barbiere di Siviglia Gioacchino Rossini Dario Fo Dario Fo Peter Grimes Benjamin Britten Francesca Zambello Jennifer Tipton Le nozze di Figaro Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Jürgen Flimm Franz Peter David 4 Tristan und Isolde Richard Wagner Alfred Kirchner Jean Kalman Jevgeni Onjegin Pjotr Iljitsj Tsjaikovski Johannes Schaaf Gérard Cleven L’incoronazione di Poppea Claudio Monteverdi Pierre Audi Jean Kalman Béatrice et Bénédict Hector Berlioz Tim Albery Jennifer Tipton Boris Godoenov Modest Petrovitsj Moesorgski Willy Decker David Finn Johnny & Jones Theo Loevendie Theu Boermans Gerhard Fischer 2001/2002 composer director lighting designer Alice in Wonderland Alexander Knaifel Pierre Audi Jean Kalman Jenufa Leoš Janáček Richard Jones Thomas Webster Lear Aribert Reimann Willy Decker Wolfgang Gussman 5 Giulio Cesare Georg Friedrich Händel Ursel and Karl-Ernst Herrmann Karl-Ernst Herrmann Salome Richard Strauss Harry Kupfer Wilfried Werz 6 Lohengrin Richard Wagner Pierre Audi Jean Kalman Dialogues des Carmélites Francis Poulenc Robert Carsen Jean Kalman Don Giovanni Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Alfred Kirchner Götz Loepelmann 7 Lulu Alban Berg Andreas Homoki Franck Evin Turandot Luciano Berio, G. Puccini Nikolaus Lehnhoff Duane Schuler L’elisir d’amore Gaetano Donizetti Guy Joosten Davy Cunningham 2002/2003 composer director lighting designer De zaak Makropulos Leoš Janáček Ivo van Hove Jan Versweyveld Madama Butterfly Giacomo Puccini Robert Wilson Robert Wilson De neus Dmitri Sjostakovitsj David Pountney Davy Cunningham La clemenza di Tito W.A. Mozart, M. Trojahn Pierre Audi Jan Versweyveld Tea Tan Dun Pierre Audi Jean Kalman 4 Head of the lighting department of the Staatsoper Berlin 5 Set designer, worked together with director Willy Decker and Friedewald Degen, ‘Beleuchtungsmeister’ from the Opera in Dresen 6 st Set designer, did the lighting together with director Harry Kupfer and Jan Koremans (1 lighter Muziektheater Amsterdam) 7 st Set designer, worked together on the lighting with Jack de Feber, 1 lighter of the Muziektheater Amsterdam 7
  • 9. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Fidelio Ludwig van Beethoven Robert Carsen Peter van Praet Macbeth Giuseppe Verdi Luc Bondy Dominique Bruguière Die Zauberflöte Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Pierre Audi Jean Kalman Die Soldaten Bernd Alois Zimmermann Willy Decker Wolfgang Gussmann 8 Euryanthe Carl Maria von Weber David Pountney Wolfgang Göbbel Le Balcon Peter Eötvös Stanislas Nordey Stéphanie Daniel 2003/2004 composer director lighting designer Les Troyens Hector Berlioz Pierre Audi Peter van Praet La bohème Giacomo Puccini Pierre Audi Jean Kalman Samson Georg Friedrich Händel Gerrit Timmers Paul van Laak Iolanta Pjotr Iljitsj Tsjaikovski Ivo van Hove Jan Versewyveld Der Rosenkavalier Richard Strauss Brigitte Fassbaender, Willy Decker Hans Toelstede Idomeneo Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Ursel and Karl-Ernst Herrmann Karl-Ernst Herrmann 9 Peter Grimes Benjamin Britten Francesca Zambello Jennifer Tipton Die Walküre Richard Wagner Pierre Audi Wolfgang Göbbel Don Carlo Giuseppe Verdi Willy Decker Hans Toelstede Rêves d’un Marco Polo Claude Vivier Pierre Audi Jean Kalman Raaff Robin de Raaff, Janine Brogt Pierre Audi Jean Kalman Writing to Vermeer Louis Andriessen Saskia Boddeke Michael Simon 2004/2005 composer director lighting designer Siegfried Richard Wagner Pierre Audi Wolfgang Göbbel Mefistofele Arrigo Boito Graham Vick Matthew Richardson Rigoletto Giuseppe Verdi Monique Wagemakers Reinier Tweebeeke Lucio Silla Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Jossi Wieler, Sergio Morabito David Finn Tea Tan Dun Pierre Audi Jean Kalman Götterdämmerung Richard Wagner Pierre Audi Wolfgang Göbbel Norma Vincenzo Bellini Guy Joosten Davy Cunningham Die tote Stadt Erich Wolfgang Korngold Willy Decker Wolfgang Göbbel Das Rheingold Richard Wagner Pierre Audi Wolfgang Göbbel L’amour des trois oranges Sergej Prokofiev Laurent Pelly Joël Adam Rage d’amours Rob Zuidam Guy Cassiers Peter Missotten 2005/2006 composer director lighting designer Das Rheingold Richard Wagner Pierre Audi Wolfgang Göbbel Die Walküre Richard Wagner Pierre Audi Wolfgang Göbbel Siegfried Richard Wagner Pierre Audi Wolfgang Göbbel 10 Götterdämmerung Richard Wagner Pierre Audi Wolfgang Göbbel Tamerlano Georg Friedrich Händel Pierre Audi Matthew Richardson Alcina Georg Friedrich Händel Pierre Audi Peter van Praet The Bassarids Hans Werner Henze Peter Stein Duane Schuler Het Sluwe Vosje Leoš Janáček Richard Jones Matthew Richardson Cavalleria rusticana | Pagliacci R. Leoncavallo, P. Mascagni Guy Joosten Davy Cunningham Elektra Richard Strauss Willy Decker Hans Toelstede Simon Boccanegra Giuseppe Verdi Peter Mussbach Alexander Koppelmann After Life Michel van der Aa Michel van der Aa Mark Truebridge Lady Macbeth from Mtsensk Dmitri Sjostakovitsj Martin Kušej Reinhard Traub 8 Set designer, worked together with director Willy Decker and Friedewald Degen, ‘Beleuchtungsmeister’ from the Opera in Dresen 9 Karl-Ernst Herrmann is director and set designer. 10 Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried & Götterdämmerung are the four parts of Der Ring des Nibelungen and could be considered as one production. 8
  • 10. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Il barbiere di Siviglia Gioacchino Rossini Dario Fo Dario Fo 2006/2007 composer director lighting designer Capriccio Richard Strauss Andreas Homoki Franck Evin Così fan tutte Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Jossi Wieler, Sergio Morabito David Finn Don Giovanni Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Jossi Wieler, Sergio Morabito David Finn 11 Le nozze di Figaro Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Jossi Wieler, Sergio Morabito David Finn Tannhäuser Richard Wagner Nikolaus Lehnhoff Duane Schuler Madama Butterfly Giacomo Puccini Robert Wilson Robert Wilson Hercules Georg Friedrich Händel Luc Bondy Dominique Bruguière Die Gezeichneten Franz Schreker Martin Kušej Reinhard Traub Wagner Dream Jonathan Harvey Pierre Audi Jean Kalman Doctor Atomic John Adams Peter Sellars James F. Ingalls 2007/2008 composer director lighting designer L’Orfeo Claudio Monteverdi Pierre Audi Jean Kalman L’incoronazione di Poppea Claudio Monteverdi Pierre Audi Jean Kalman Il ritorno d´Ulisse in patria Claudio Monteverdi Pierre Audi Jean Kalman Madrigalen Claudio Monteverdi Pierre Audi Jean Kalman Lucia di Lammermoor Gaetano Donizetti Monique Wagemakers Reinier Tweebeeke Daphne Richard Strauss Peter Konwitschny Peter Konwitschny 12 Castor et Pollux Jean-Philippe Rameau Pierre Audi Jean Kalman Die Entführung aus dem Serail Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Johan Simons Marc Van Renesse Giulio Cesare Georg Friedrich Händel Ursel and Karl-Ernst Herrmann Karl-Ernst Herrmann 13 Kát´a Kabanová Leoš Janáček Willy Decker Hans Toelstede Un ballo in maschera Giuseppe Verdi Claus Guth Olaf Winter Tristan and Isolde Richard Wagner Alfred Kirchner Jean Kalman Saint François d´Assise Olivier Messiaen Pierre Audi Jean Kalman La Commedia Louis Andriessen Hal Hartley Scott Zielinski The international diversity of this list was the origin of the motivation to perform research on this subject. In the following graph the percentage of nationalities working in the opera house in Amsterdam between 2000 and 2008 is presented. Many of the listed productions are reproductions and have not been not analysed for the graphics. Some of the lighting designers are actually set designers or heads of lighting departments and where also not considered as lighting designers. 11 Così fan tutte, Don Giovanni & Le nozze di Figaro where produced as one cycle around librettist Da Ponte. 12 Together with Bernd Hagemeyer, ‘Beleuchtungsmeister’ from the Opera house in Essen, Germany. 13 Karl-Ernst Herrmann is director and set designer. 9
  • 11. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? 1.02. Graphic analyses Composers (Language of the opera) Directors (country of origin) Interesting but expectable result in this graph is the amount of German opera and opera directors. In spite of the amount of Italian operas there has only been a very small amount of Italian directors in Amsterdam while, as visible in the above table, Dutch directors direct many of the Dutch operas and tend to work with Dutch lighting designers. Pierre Audi14 directed approximately 30% of the production in these eight seasons, and worked in approximately 57% of these productions together with Jean Kalman from France, and in approximately 29% together with Wolfgang Goebbel from Germany. The nationalities of lighting designer’s shows an interesting shifting, although one can criticize these statistics by stating that not all lighting designers in the above list are working as freelance lighting designer. Some work as lighting chief in opera houses outside the Netherlands and come to Amsterdam to reproduce the design, originally made by himself or herself or the director. 14 Pierre Audi is the artistic director of De Nederlandse Opera. 10
  • 12. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Lighting designers (country of origin) Suddenly the United States of America is on the third place of the list. Here we can see the effect of the globalisation of opera together with the economical and technical development, the age of opera culture in the United States and their market of technology. Most operas can be considered as European and their directors still live in Europe. Lighting designers however, are further away from the opera itself and more often have their origin in countries with rather western culture and modern technology. More about the origin of the current lighting designer in Chapter 4.6. Origin of the current lighting designer. 11
  • 13. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? 1.1. The thesis The thesis of this dissertation describes the direction of the research. However, it is not suitable as a title for the paper. The question ‘What are you writing a dissertation about?’ would be answered with the following answer: “A research into lighting designers for opera and their working method and cultural background, in comparison with other lighting designers within the opera genre as well as in other theatre genres.” The thesis is defined in two core enquiries:  What is the distinction between the working methods of a lighting designer within certain performance genres?  Who is the lighting designer for opera; what are his/her specialities, (cultural) backgrounds, working methods and work circumstances? Two additional sub questions are added in order to give a more specific direction to the research:  What effect does the cultural background of a lighting designer have on the working method or the design as regards to the content?  Is there a fundamental cultural distinction traceable in the work of e.g. a German lighting designer compared to a French lighting designer? 12
  • 14. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? 1.2. Framework of the research The content of this paper is based on a two-method way of research. One source of information for this research is existing literature, partially written on the subject. The second source is four interviews with four lighting designers. The main purpose of the interviews is to create a divers overview of practical experiences and profound methods from contemporary working situations in lighting design for opera. Analyses of these interviews will lead to an image from which conclusions on the core investigation questions can be defined. The literature research will be used to connect the interviews to older guidelines and predefined working methods, formulated by lighting designers in the consulted literature. The method of assimilating the aggregated information is further explained in chapter 1.2.5. The outcome of the research. 1.2.1. Consulted literature Most of the literature consulted are handbooks and opera-/theatre magazines, containing information about the core questions of the research. A striking observation while performing the literary research is that most of the handbook and essays written on the subject are outdated. Most literature is written in the late twentieth century, when the profession of lighting designer had its enormous globalisation. More about this globalisation in chapter 2.3. Globalisation of opera A lot has changed in the opera lighting branch since the late sixties, the time from which the first handbooks and literature originate. In the time of the research there was hardly any modern literature available on the subject of this dissertation. The consulted literature can nevertheless be considered as valuable, as most of the literary information has particular equalities with the outcome of the interviews and the consulted magazines and articles. A certain timelessness has been discovered in the main literary sources. Clearly defined literary research In the search for information a clear definability is used to decrease the literary research area to a few specific items. The selected pieces from handbooks on lighting design had to contain a specific classification in designing for multiple theatre genres, with a particular view on designing for opera. Aiming to realize a collection of usable information several keynotes where used while conducting the literary research. To give an example a few of these keynotes will be mentioned:  Lighting design  Opera lighting design  The opera stage  Lighting techniques  Design problems: lighting musicals, ballet and opera  Lighting practice 13
  • 15. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? 1.2.2. Interviews The most significant research area of this dissertation is four interviews with international lighting designers. This area is of a significant value for the research because the opinions and stories of contemporary lighting designers are valuable in the representativeness of the research. The collection of lighting designers was arranged by taking into account the origin, experience and internationality of the lighting designer. These interviews will serve as references for the other chapters in this dissertation. The lighting designers interviewed are:  Duane Schuler, United States of America  John B. Read, Great Britain  Reinier Tweebeeke, the Netherlands  Jean Kalman, France Biographies of these lighting designers can be found in Chapter 5. Analyses of the interviews. The representativeness of the collection of lighting designers is explained in 1.2.4. Representativeness of the research. The interviews with these lighting designers will be analysed in chapter 4. The atmosphere of the interviews will be described, as well as the author’s impression of the characteristic way of thinking of the lighting designers interviewed 1.2.3. Target group Target group of this dissertation is lighting designers for opera, students in lighting design and students in opera or theatre technology. Lighting designers for opera could use this paper to get a view on the work of their colleagues and the conclusions of the research it may bring. Students in lighting design, opera or theatre technology can find a view on the lighting designer and lighting design for contemporary opera. When lighting for opera, a lighting designer could encounter a difference between working in other genres and particular difficulties in the work circumstances. This dissertation tries to focus on these differences and to put them in the correct context, complemented with practical experiences, opinions and meanings of lighting designers from the field of study. A certain foreknowledge of opera and or theatre lighting is demanded. The author of this dissertation has taken the view that the future reader of this dissertation has knowledge of theatre, opera and lighting in order to put the content in the correct context. Nevertheless a historical framework of opera and opera lighting will be given to put the interview analyses into a broader historical perspective. 1.2.4. Representativeness of the research The research will concentrate on published literature and the work and working method of four international lighting designers. It will not be representative for lighting design or lighting designers for opera globally and/or in general. Moreover, the four interviewed lighting designers do not represent their country; conclusions based on the interviews will not be representative for any country. Nevertheless a certain image of the cultural background of the examined lighting designers will be outlined in order to highlight a characteristic difference between nationalities, since during the research period and the interviews a characteristic difference was actually traceable between the four lighting designers and their method of working. 14
  • 16. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? This dissertation will not contain much statistic information because it has another purpose. The results of the investigation do have need of further more statistic research which will be further elucidated in the Investigation recommendation This dissertation will highlight the differences and distinctions found during the research. In the conclusion of this dissertation the value of these differences and distinctions will be debated and reflected on the outcome of the interviews. The purpose of accentuating the differences and distinctions between opera lighting and other lighting methods is to show the nuances in current working methods and designing for opera. 1.2.5. The outcome of the research The gathered information from the research will be used in two parts of this dissertation. Chapter 2, 3 and 4 of this dissertation create a framework of the history of opera lighting design and contemporary working methods of opera designers and distinctions found in the literary sources. In Chapter 5. Analyses of the interviews the interviews will be analysed in order to reflect this mostly outdated literary information to contemporary work experience and opinions. The main points of research are the interviews. Therefore the information gained from the interviews will have more significance in the composition of the conclusions. 15
  • 17. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Chapter 2. Brief history of opera In order to assist the reader of this dissertation putting the information in the next chapters in the correct historical context, a brief history of opera and an explanation of the globalisation of opera are given in this chapter. Opera is a theatre genre with its origin in the European renaissance and baroque, but the main and currently most performed operas were written in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. These days several new operas have their opening night in opera houses all over the world, but the famous eighteenth and nineteenth century operas are still in favour. 2.1. What is opera? Opera is a form of theatre where the drama is conveyed through music and singing. The word opera means “works” in Italian, from the plural form of the Latin word Opus, which means work or labour. The words of an opera are known as the libretto, which literally means “little book”. Some composers have written their own libretti; others have worked in close collaboration with their librettists, e.g. MozartI with Lorenzo da PonteII. Opera has much in common with spoken theatre such as scenery, costumes and acting. Opera is generally distinguished from other dramatic forms by the importance of the singing and vocal techniques. The libretto may be serious or comic, although neither form necessarily excludes elements of the other. Opera differs from operetta in its musical complexity and usually in its subject matter. It differs also from oratorio, which is customarily based on a religious subject and is performed without scenery, costumes, or stage action. Although both opera and operetta may have spoken dialogue, in opera the dialogue usually has musical accompaniment, such as the harpsichord continuo in the operas of Mozart and RossiniIII. „Opera is an extended dramatic composition, in which all parts are sung to instrumental accompaniment, that usually includes arias, choruses, and recitatives, and that sometimes includes 15 ballet.” 16 „Opera: Dramatic work in one or more acts that is set to music for singers an instrumentalists.” As a production, opera is often called a collective artwork (‘Gesamtkunstwerk’), a combination of theatre, dance and music. More about opera as a collective artwork can be found in Chapter 3.1. The memoirs of Richard Wagner. Opera is not just a music genre, beautifully phrased by the Britisch poet W.H. Auden: "If music in general is an imitation of history, opera in particular is an imitation of human wilfulness; it is rooted in the fact that we not only have feelings but insist upon having them at whatever cost to ourselves… The quality common to all the great operatic roles, e.g., Don Giovanni, Norma, Lucia, Tristan, Isolde, Brünnhilde, is that each of them is a passionate and wilful state of being. In real life 17 they would all be bores, even Don Giovanni." 15 Definition from online dictionary on http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/opera 16 th Definition from Concise Oxford Dictionary – 11 ed, Oxford University Press, 2006 17 W.H. Auden, Notes on Music and Opera, The Dyer’s hand, Vintage Books, 1968, page 470-471 16
  • 18. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? 2.2. Origin of opera In the late sixteenth century a group of wealthy people in the city of Florence, Italy, invented opera by trying to reproduce ancient Greek dramas. Sixteenth-century Europe was experiencing the Renaissance. The sixteenth century Italians began to experiment by reading the plays aloud and adding a few musical chords as accompaniment. This practice led to singing the so-called “recitativo” in Italian, or recitative in English. Over time, the music grew more complex and musical professionals became interested in this combination of music and drama. The first opera was probably a recitative work titled Dafne written in 1594 or 1597 by Jacopo Peri18. The score of Peri‘s opera has never been found, it’s existing is recovered from comments in ancient literature about the performances of Dafne. The first documented opera is called L’Orfeo and is written by the Italian composer Claudio MonteverdiIV. He expanded the existing form and added arias to the music that allowed the singers to express the emotions of their character. In the same time one started to adapt the venues to the opera genre. The first ‘opera house’, a theatre venue specifically built to host opera, was built in Venice, the Teatro San Cassiano.19 It opened in 1637. Later, other composers added chorus parts, dances, instrumental interludes, etcetera, and opera continued to grow and change. The opera popularity quickly spread to Germany, France, England, Russia and many other countries in Europe. Other composers, from Germany and Austria wrote opera’s in Italian, because opera was considered as an Italian art form. Eventually they wrote opera’s in their own languages. By the late nineteenth century, composers like Guiseppe VerdiV in Italy, and Richard Wagner (see next chapter) in Germany, were writing operas of tremendous length, with music and stories that demanded huge, expensive productions, mature singers with big voices, large choruses, large orchestras and complicated scenery and costumes. European immigrants brought opera to the United States of America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Most of today's famous and popular operas were written in the eighteenth and nineteenth century by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, La clemenza di Tito and Die Zauberflöte), Giacomo PucciniVI (La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly and Turandot), Guiseppe Verdi (Rigoletto, La Traviata, Simon Boccanegra, Il Trovatore, Don Carlo, Aida and Macbeth) and Richard Wagner (Der fliegende Holländer, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Der Ring des Nibelungen (Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried, Götterdämmerung, and Parsifal). 18 Jacopo Peri (August 20, 1561 – August 12, 1633) was an Italian composer and singer of the transitional period between the Renaissance and Baroque styles, and is often called the inventor of opera. He wrote the first work to be called an opera today, Dafne (around 1597), and also the first opera to have survived to the present day, Euridice (1600). 19 The Teatro San Cassiano or Teatro di San Cassiano in Venice was the first public opera house when it opened in 1637. It was a wooden structure built with financial backing of the Venetian Tron family. It was considered 'public' as an impresario, or general manager, for the paying public, directed it. […] Towards the end of the seventeenth century Venice became the opera capital of the world as another ten opera houses opened. The last performances in the Teatro San Cassiano were held in 1807 and it was demolished in 1812. 17
  • 19. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? 2.3. Globalisation of opera The globalisation of opera is one of the most significant causes of the international character of contemporary opera. In the last hundred years globalisation of the world has had its effect on almost everything. States, economies and societies are increasingly integrated; goods, capital, humans and cultural objects link everyone in a global system. Due to this globalisation in the last century and the industrial revolution it is much cheaper and easier to travel international these days. This information can be considered as required foreknowledge to understand the remarkable internationalisation of opera. The globalisation of opera is a logical tendency of the market taking some facts in account. There is a small selection of operas performed in not more then a thousand opera houses, festivals and venues all over the world20. The artists working in these productions, and especially the singers, come from a small selection of the world’s best conservatories and art schools. There is no language barrier in opera because of the musical accompaniment. Operas, although originally composed for a national audience (especially the famous early twentieth century ones), can be performed with subtitles in every language, and the music makes it accessible for every nationality. Only a top selection of singers sing the same operas all over the world. Thirty years ago it was able to mount a production with e.g. only German singers in the leading roles. That has become impossible to arrange, due to the globalisation of the working field of the artists. It could even be impossible to mount a national production, because artists with the required quality might not be available in the country itself, because they are studying or working abroad. Moreover, managements find it cheaper to borrow a piece or a singer from abroad than arranging something at home. For example, it is cheaper and easier to hire a singer from a foreign country who knows the piece then to pay a domestic singer to practice and study a piece. Although this may sound as if artistic decisions are based on financial circumstances it often improves the quality of the production. In a globalizing western society the status of famous opera singers travels far ahead of them and when travel costs decrease it is easier to attract and contract the international ‘stars’. Shortly after the singers, the directors started travelling in the nineteen-seventieths and nineteen-eightieths. With them came designers, choreographers, production teams, and etcetera. We can conclude that in contemporary opera the artistic direction can always attract quality by selecting the best artist of the world for a production. Opera is the only theatrical art form with such a global character. Dance has become very international as well but theatre productions currently don’t travel that much compared to dance and opera. This is because mainly because of the language of the play. Richard Fairman, contributor of the Britisch newspaper The Financial Times wrote an article in 2003 called Opera: one size fits all wherein he asked the readers: „Does it matter? Surely al this co-operation is simply a sign of the world getting smaller, of opera companies making sensible decisions about sharing costs, of audiences willingly partaking of an art form that transcends national boundaries? Is this not a worldwide common market that many would like to see function as effectively when it comes to trade of other goods, such as food and 21 medicine?” Some people say that contemporary performances are retreated to a neutral middle ground. They argue that the composers of the great works wrote for specifically national styles of singing and orchestral playing and their librettists generally expected that the performers would be fluent in the language they were singing and that audiences 20 There are 980 Companies, Festivals and Venues worldwide according to the database of operabase.com 21 Opera: one size fits all, Richard Fairman, Financial Times, July 4, 2003 18
  • 20. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? would understand it. However this is a very interesting discussion it won’t be part of this dissertation. To understand the rest of the chapters we can conclude that all national boundaries disappeared in the global world of opera. There is a worldwide collaboration of opera companies, opera houses, opera singers, directors, designers, and etcetera. More information about the specific value of this internationality can be found in chapter 4.5. The internationality of the work circumstances. As an example of the global division of opera companies here is a map of opera companies, festivals and venues all over the world in 2007: Image I, Global opera activity,  www.operabase.com As we can see, opera is very concentrated in the content where it was born, Europe. Here is a map of the opera activity in Europe: Image II, European opera activity,  www.operabase.com 19
  • 21. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Chapter 3. History of opera lighting design In this chapter a framework will be created to understand the results from the research on opera lighting design in the correct historical context. The actual history and founding of lighting design goes back a hundred years to the time of Richard Wagner, Adolphe Appia and Edward Gordon Craig22. It is a profession totally depending on the development of artificial light and the invention of oil lamps, gas lamps and eventually electrical light. Although one used fire torches in ancient Greek already and chandeliers in the medieval theatres, lighting is one of the youngest theatre professions. Scenic design is a much older profession. Since the old Greeks often performed in sunlight they invented advanced scenery to improve and decorate the visual part of the performance, in the renaissance further developed by Wagner, Appia and Craig among others. Lighting design followed this development in the renaissance. 3.1. The memoirs of Richard Wagner The history of opera lighting design goes back to the beginning of the eighteenth century, when the ideas of Richard WagnerVII brought about a tremendous progress in the opera development. Wagner was the founder of the Gesamtkunstwerk (collective artwork), the collaboration of different art forms like music, architecture, poetry, dance and theatre. He tried to reach ‘new poetical heights’ by bringing all disciplines together, and, with that, accomplish the ‘ideal medium, the highest artistic inspiration’. He was the first composer who added accurate notes on scene changes, effects, and light atmospheres in the score. An example of this can be found in the lighting prescriptions added for the Venusberg-Szene (Venus mountain scene) in the opera Tannhäuser.VIII, “Venus should lie in a ‘soft red dusk’, the entire foreground had to be lit with a ‘clean reddish light, penetrating from beneath, through which the emerald-green from the waterfall with a foamy kind of white strongly enters; the far background with its sea-character is illuminated with a glorified blue”.23 The possibility to shape the external appearance of illumination with light was already discovered by Wagner in 1865. In a message about a music school in Munich, Germany he said that the king, a “in this profession excellent experienced architect” (Gottfried Semper24) was set to the task to design a theatre space in which from on the one hand the ‘aesthetic unsightly and disturbing visibility of the orchestra’ could be avoided and on the other hand, particularly through invention of lighting installations, through which the scenography could be elevated to a real picturesque artistic significance, the theatrical presentation itself could be ‘elevated to her absent art competence’. With these words lighting design is still not an autonomous profession; it is still a part of the scenography, but her significance for the scenographic activity is stated very clear. To avoid the “total distraction of the face of reality which surrounds the spectators in the auditorium” Wagner introduced the darkening of the auditorium and hid the orchestra partly under the stage. Owing of this the definition of sight substantially 22 Edward Gordon Craig (16 January 1872 – 29 July 1966), sometimes known as Gordon Craig, was a English modernist theatre practitioner; he worked as an actor, producer, director and scenic designer, as well as developing an influential body of theoretical writings. 23 „Licht im Theater“, Chapter 14 – Carl-Friedrich Baumann. 24 Gottfried Semper (November 29, 1803 – May 15, 1879) was a German architect, art critic, and professor of architecture, who designed and built the Semper Oper in Dresden between 1838 and 1841. In 1849 he took part in the May Uprising in Dresden and was put on the government's wanted list. Semper fled first to Zürich and later to London. Later he returned to Germany after the 1862 amnesty granted to the revolutionaries. 20
  • 22. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? changed. The artistic image is much better recognizable from a darkened space. This had a humungous positive effect on the developmental progress of lighting design. The progresses theoretically demanded by Wagner were far ahead of the possibilities in stage- and lighting technique. He overestimated the conditions that had to be available for the fulfilling of his performances. Moreover, the preparations weren’t so far that the already available material could be stowed. 3.2. The answer of Adolphe Appia Adolphe AppiaIX studied music in Switzerland and came into contact with the musical dramas of Richard Wagner, and his theoretical writings. He was deeply impressed but recognized that the usual mounting (including Wagner’s) of the operas did not properly embody Wagner’s theories. After years of thought, he published The Staging of Wagner’s Musical Dramas in 1895, Music and Stage Setting in 1899 and The Work of Living Art in 1921. In these works, he set forth ideas about theatrical production that were eventually accepted almost everywhere. Appia concluded that stage presentation involves three conflicting visual elements: the moving three-dimensional actor; the perpendicular scenery and the horizontal floor. He recommended replacing the painted two-dimensional settings, according to Appia one of the major causes of disunity, by three-dimensional units like steps, ramps, platforms, etcetera. Herewith he enhanced the actor’s movement and provided a transition from the horizontal floor to the upright scenery. In 1910 Appia designed the first theatre of modern times to be built without a proscenium arch and with a completely open stage, the Festspielhaus in Hellerau, Germany. In the 1920 Appia staged Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde in Milan, Italy and two pars of the Ring-cycle in Basel, Switzerland. His work was not received very positive as his ideas were quite revolutionary. Above all, however, Appia emphasised the role of light in fusing all of the visual elements into a unified whole. Since to him light was the visual counterpart of music, which changes from moment to moment in response to shifting moods, emotions, and action, Appia wished to orchestrate and manipulate light as carefully as a musical score. Attempts to implement this theory, which requires control over the distribution, brightness, and colour of light, have led to much of modern stage-lighting practice. Appia also argued that artistic unity requires that one person be in control of all of the elements of the production. Thus, his ideas strengthened the role of the director.25 Considering this we might call Adolphe Appia the founder if the profession lighting designer, although, in his age, it was a task of the director. As he was inspired by Wagner, and theatrical plays missed the advancement that was taking place in opera, due to Wagner, he mostly worked within opera. Therefore we might note the first historical distinction in lighting for opera and lighting for theatre, as opera functioned as the main inspiration for Appia to initiate a first ideas on lighting design. Lighting for Appia was the visual counterpart of music, and in the quotation below we can find the first terminology used on describing the connection between lighting and music; Music: Shifting moods, emotions and action in the musical piece. Light: Changes in the distribution, brightness and colour of light in lighting. Nevertheless it took over sixty years before Appia’s visionary ideas where used in the Bayreuth stage actuality. He had a profound formulation on the role and importance of lighting in the total stage production; “lighting does not create a factual activity on our 25 History of the Theatre, chapter 17, Oscar G Brocket, Page 413 21
  • 23. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? contemporary stage; her only purpose is to make the scenery visible.” The directions of light had to illuminate certain painted parts of the scenographic environment; “this task has nothing in common with the acknowledged role of light, she even contradicts her.” Every aim to make a factual activity with light in the scenic system leads to the expectation of a transition in the scenery. According to Appia lighting arrangements are only there to illuminate the stage and scenery. On the other hand Appia also expresses lighting as a, apart from her unordered activity for the enlightening of dark spaces, true and al-powerful representation force. The notion ‘representation force’ is explained in comparison with music: „What music is in a score is lighting in the empire of representation: the expressionistic element in opposition to the elements or signs of orientation and indication. Light can, just as music, only 26 express what is in the ‘inner being of apparition’.” To conclude this chapter we can state a few interesting items in the history of lighting design for opera. From the operas and memoirs of Wagner and the theoretical ideas of Appia and Edward Gordon Craig, who came up with similar theories and worked with Appia, we can trace a small equality as regards designing in the founding of lighting design for theatre and opera. Although very little lighting devices were available in the early twentieth century a particular direction in lighting design existed from the beginning. Lighting has been a practical solution, but due to the work of Wagner, Appia and Craig it became an art form. The technical development and invention of new lamps and trustworthy electricity brought new possibilities to the stages of the early twentieth century opera houses. From there lighting design developed to the current profession. Until the nineteen seventies lighting mainly remained a task of the director or scenographer. In chapter 4.6. Origin of the current lighting designer a further explanation will be given on the developments in the last fifty years. 26 Adolphe Appia, quoted in Licht im Theater, Carl-Friedrich Baumann, Chapter 14 22
  • 24. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Chapter 4. Opera lighting design In this chapter the particular properties of lighting design for opera will be explained. In many lighting handbooks the differences in lighting design per genre are explained by dividing the working methods and circumstances in different chapters. A remarkable equality has been found in the result of the literary research. To compare the opinions stated in the consulted literature and interviews many quotations will be used in this chapter in order to clarify the results of the literary research. „Opera is about music, theatre, singing, acting and dance, and as such lighting design for opera is typically a combination of theatre, dance and musical theatre lighting techniques. Fortunately for the lighting designer, and due to the need for good acoustics, most professional operas take place in well designed theatre or concert halls.” […] “Opera lighting must light the singers for clarity, the dancers and chorus for interest and the scenery for atmosphere. Operas may be simplistic and straight forward, or highly complex and stylized. It is not unusual for ‘visions’ to appear from out of ‘nowhere’. Nor is it unusual to have the ‘devil’ frequently appear or disappear throughout the course of the 27 production. The opera lighting designer must be ready for this and for much more.” A few framework issues are of great significance; the economical conditions such as the repertory or commercial system, the financial possibilities and the international character. One of the many mentioned distinctions between opera lighting and theatre or dance lighting is the specific collaborative character of the genre. As Bill Williams states, opera is a combination of many theatrical disciplines and therefore a ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’, or collective artwork. One could say that this continues to affect in the lighting. Is opera lighting a combination of lighting for theatre, music, singing, and acting and dancing? According to Bill Willams it is: “Lighting design for opera is typically a combination of theatre, dance and musical theatre lighting techniques”. On the other hand there are a few things which really distinct opera from dance and theatre. It starts with the venue where it is performed. Opera generally needs large stages and is therefore almost always performed in specially build opera houses. These opera houses program, next to opera, almost only classic or modern ballet, more seldom dance or even less; theatre. Is this the big difference? 4.1. Opera houses, a condition for another lighting method? Opera houses have one important property that distinct them from theatres; their scale. They have a much bigger physical acting area and therefore a consequent need for more powerful instruments. The scenery is mostly much bigger, and often a production has several sets that are placed on side stages for different scenes. The challenges coming with this fact are a longer distance between audience and stage, higher bridges, wider lighting angels, etc. There is a huge orchestra pit that has to be conquered and there can be large groups of people on the stage. As such, opera may also be performed in large concert halls, arenas and stadiums. One could question why opera has this unique elite rank in the world of theatre venues, by having the opportunity to have especially designed venues with multiple large stages. In the history of opera this is easy to explain. Opera has simply grown to an elitist form of musical theatre, with usually a high-class rich audience. In every opera country the genre is very well financed by governmental, commercial or private funds. Tickets are mostly expensive, and the look-and-feel of the theatre is usually quit luxurious. The possibility to have a lot of financial goods at ones disposal has led to the enlargement of sceneries, stages and thereby the opera houses. This enlargement created the expectation of larger stages and nowadays opera just doesn’t really fit in the regular 27 Opera Lighting - Applied Design Methods, Bill Williams 23
  • 25. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? venues anymore. Having opera demanding these large scales and therewith gaining a certain monopoly profit on the market is a logical consequence. A huge difference in lighting for opera is the economical condition of an opera production; is the house stagione or in repertory? This will be elucidated in Chapter 4.4. The economical aspect. 4.2. Lighting an opera, a play, or dance as regards content In consulted literature on lighting design for opera recurring points are the role of music in the designing process (see Chapter 4.3. The role of music in the designing process), the position of the soloist on the stage, the presence of large groups of people and large sceneries (the scale) and a certain style of great gestures. These facts outline some main differences between opera and theatre or dance, of course always depending on the production. These scale issues and great gestures are of course only possible with the large financial conditions within opera and the liberal standard in which designers create. A few things can be marked as significant for a typical opera design, like the soloist and the music. There have been standards in opera lighting; traditional opera lighting in the United States around 1950 consisted of footlights, border lights and floodlights in the wings. There were about four or five basic colour circuits (blue for the night scenes and pink or amber or white for daylight). Joel E. Rubin, author of Theatrical Lighting Practice wrote in 1968 that for modern opera lighting it was the problem of the lighting designer to ask himself several questions: 1. What is the mood of the opera at any given moment? Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, for example, is comic opera and the lighting needs heightened colour and brightness. Don Giovanni, on the other hand, is a dramatic tragic-comic plot, which requires more sombre colours and less intensity. 2. What naturalistic effects are required by the libretto (effects of nature and artificial light sources)? How can they be utilized most dramatically? 3. How can soloists be pictorially illuminated and the chorus presented in the most effectively modelled visual compositions? The centre of interest should be the only centre of visual attention. Certainly a flat, evenly illuminated total stage area during an intimate duet is out of place. 4.2.1. The soloist One of the main differences between opera and theatre is the position of the soloist. The soloist in opera is the singer, alone on the stage singing an aria, together with an antagonist singing a duet, or guided by a choir. The singer alone on the stage singing an aria usually needs good visibility to see the conductor. The position of this singer on the stage is depending on the staging of the director but is mostly located downstage centre, close to the orchestra to attract all attention to the singer, but most important, to make it easier for the singer to hear the music of the orchestra. An often recurring style of lighting design is to light this singer in a light colour and darken the rest of the stage. The aria in opera is usually the most dramatic moment where, in the beauty of the music and the singing all attention needs to go to the singer. “The aria, after all, is the soul of opera.” (Richard Wagner). In theatre their can be monologues, but they can be anywhere on the stage, and are not necessary the most dramatic moment in the piece. Dialogues in theatre usually contain more energy, just as the arias in opera contain the most energy. Remember, there are of course many exceptions. 24
  • 26. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? It has not always been like this. In history, the attention in opera has been with the music. The stage was equally lit with no special attention to the soloist, until the sixties, when Franco ZeffirelliX and Luchino ViscontiXI placed a demand on the singers that they should also act. (Lighting opera, page 126 – Stage Lighting – Richard Pilbrow) Even conductors, like Georg Solti and Guilino began to show interest in staging and stage lighting. „Under the old regime the director, the set director and the chief electrician got together and in an all too often haphazard manner decided how they would light the scenery and when necessary the 28 singers.” 4.3. The role of music in the designing process In every single piece of literature consulted and in all four interviews the role of music in opera is stated as the main difference between opera and theatre. The music in opera motivates the lighting, determines the scene and is not used cinematically; it is the primary source of sense experience. One could say (and generalise) that dance is based on movement, theatre on text and opera on music. The cueing in these genres can be taken back to this division; cues in dance are generally based on movement, on text in theatre and on the music in opera. Whether the music gives less or more freedom to the designer depends on the designer. Some say the music points the designer in the way to a fulfilling design. „Opera is very beautiful to work in, because it can have a greater gesture. In theatre you often have to put something very subtle between the lines. You think of the design in another manner. The 29 music already filled in a few things.” One could say that in theatre the design possibilities and scene or light changes often occur between the lines. In opera the music continuously provides possibilities for scene and/or light changes. The scene mood in opera depends on the mood, pace and rhythm of the music. The music is a given fact that grows with the conductor. The conductor is responsible for the pace of the music and therewith the pace of the direction and therefore also the pace of the design. Many set designers and lighting designers need strong communication with the conductor and director to get on the same artistic level about the music. Opera is rather music in a theatrical form then the other way around. The difference with for example musical and musical theatre is hard to explain. In comparison with theatre one can of course rely on the origin of the piece. Does the piece have a composer or an author? An opera always has a composer, just like most musicals and musical theatre, in the last case nonetheless often in combination with a librettist. „I don’t believe that in opera the text should follow the music, even not if that was originally the intention. The music can have a total other mental space then the text. Moreover, it is possible that the physical movements, the virtual space, the scenery and the gestures all have their own rhythm and still make a whole, just in different mental spaces. It is just how you arrange those layers. ” […] „It is just like a cheeseburger, you have the bread, the meat, the mayonnaise, unions, cheese and mustard; together they make a sandwich. That are the different structures, different layers who belong together, who complete each other or are in opposition sometimes. In opera it is the same. De music can be fast while the singers move very slowly. That produces a certain tension. If it is 30 done well, you’ll hear the music better.” This last quotation is interesting because it shows the substantial link between the visual and audial within opera according to opera director and designer Robert Wilson. The 28 Lighting opera, In conversation with William Bundy – Design problems: lighting musicals, ballet and opera; the repertoire – Stage Lighting – Richard Pilbrow – page 125 29 Mirjam Grote Gansey, set designer, quoted in Podium Produktie – Orfea ed Euridice 30 Robert Wilson, quoted in Odeon 46 – Moet de Puccini-fan vrezen voor Robert Wilson, August 2002 25
  • 27. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? question remains whether the visual counterpart of the music in opera is there to support the music by visualising it, or a real distinctive visual artwork that completes the collective artwork. Robert Wilson also has an answer to that question: How would you characterize the relationship between the songs and your own presentation? I just picked settings that I thought were appropriate in some way for this music as a group of pictures or tableaux but which didn’t necessarily illustrate the music. And everything had to be in scale to 31 Jessye . There were certain moods in the landscapes that helped in deciding what songs are not meant to illustrate the background. The background is like a picture book that makes sense on its own. In Great Day, the visual is as important as what we hear. I think it helps us hear and the singing help us see. I think what I disliked about opera when I first went was that I couldn’t hear I was so visually distracted. I heard best when I shut my eyes. It’s very difficult to see and hear at the same time and mostly we do one or the other. What I try to do in all my work is make a balance between 32 what you hear and what you see, so that perhaps you can do both at the same time. „The lighting is an outgrowth of the music you hear. Certainly the cueing, which is the establishing of different looks for different moments within the opera, is all based on the music. In some music, you can hear a light cue a mile away. You can hear it’s time to do a build or it’s time to fade to cool because there is a key change. I always listen to the music. I listen to it over and over and just sort of think about what it should look like, what it should feel like. Then the cues are all timed as well. When you write light cues, it's not just a sudden shift of light from one cue to another. You can do very XII sudden shifts like in Nabucco when the crown falls off the head. That's a one-count cue. You can also have a three-minute cue to do just a slight fade to show the time of day or the lights outside the windows are just going down slowly or whatever. But all of that is definitely based on the music and 33 all those cues are actually put into a score.” We can conclude that the lighting in opera is based on the music, just like the set and the staging is based on the composed music. None of the different disciplines in opera stand on themselves; the meaning of the collective artwork is that all forms of art work together and produce one ‘work’. In case of opera a lyrical, musical artwork. The lighting in opera does not stand on its own; it is of no meaning without the music, just like the set design and the staging. Of course that is the same in theatre with the text or in dance with the movement. This strong connection between the music and the lighting is of great importance in the designing process. When a lighting designer designs for theatre the first links are available in the script. Just in the rehearsals, and eventually in the staging of the piece a definitive design can be made, because the cues and moods in the design depend on the style and mood of the direction and are therefore not traceable in the original script. It can only grow in conversation with the director and or set designer and in the rehearsals and staging period. In dance, the design has to grow with the choreography and staging. As a lighting designer in dance, you start with even less information, maybe a concept, or a piece of music. The movement, which is the inspiration source, develops within the rehearsals and mounting. In opera there is one important thing available for one of humans strongest sense perceptions; the music. The music gives a lot of information as regards mood; the style and pace is to be brought by the director, set and light designer and the conductor. E.g., a change in light can occur directly after the end of a musical scene, but also during the scene, after or during a movement of the singer or actor. The lighting cue can be sudden or take very long, during slow or fast music. It is not easy to give an example of this, but when viewing opera is something one can focus on. A view on the use of music of the interviewed lighting designers will be given in Chapter 5. Analyses of the interviews. 31 Jessye Norman, celebrated American soprano. 32 Robert Wilson: Current Projects. Interview with Laurence Shyrer, Theater, Summer/Fall 1983, page 84 - 91 33 Duane Schuler, lighting designer, Conversation Piece, Bruce Duffie, The Opera Journal, December 1998 26
  • 28. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? 4.4. The economical aspect Perhaps the biggest difference between opera and theatre/dance is the economical aspect. Because opera is such a large scaled art form it needs long preparation. The international opera agenda is tight and strict. To prepare an opera with the most qualified director, conductor, singers, designers, etc, for the production one needs to think in years of preparation. Opera houses need to plan at least a few years in advance to plan the human logistics. When it comes to preparing a new opera multiple departments need to start working. It just takes a lot of time to go from the initial idea to the opening night. Since in this period of time the opera house is not reserved for the preparation of this particular opera, it has a huge overlap with other opera and (mostly) ballet productions. This is organised in the repertory 34 or the stagione35 system. Each country has a different way of handling the repertory or stagione system, depending on the financial situation of opera in that country and the countries ‘strictness’. Three determining factors will be explained in this chapter: the planning in advance, the commerciality of opera and the repertory or stagione system. 4.4.1. State support It is important to understand the economical position of the opera in particular countries because it determines the financial pressure on the repertory or stagione system and therewith the working circumstances of the travelling lighting designer. Germany The repertory in Germany, the country with the highest opera activity in the world, is one of the strictest forms of economical conditions in theatre. Most German cities have one ore more large theatre venue and or opera house, so every citizen is offered access to a nearby opera. Many theatre organisations in Germany are listed in the Deutscher Bühnenverein, a German theatre and orchestra association. Opera houses belong to the community and often have a programme of dance, drama and orchestral concerts alongside opera. Public funding keeps the ticket price reasonable. These houses have a fixed group of actors, designers, staff and technicians, mostly depending on the artistic vision of the contracted intendant. Resident lighters, heads of lighting departments of the opera houses often make the lighting designs together with the director and the set designer. This differs from the situation in many other countries, e.g. the United States or the United Kingdom, since they rather don’t contract international lighting designer, because of their repertory system and because directors, set designers and lighters are under limited or unlimited contract in the same building. To be able to run the opera house financially different shows are produced at the same time. This means a different production every evening, filling the complete season. This puts an enormous pressure on the venue and on production time, since all designing time depends on the free time between performances. The Semperoper in Dresden is a good example of the repertory system: in season 2005/2006 they gave 178 performances of 43 operas, 70 ballet performances, 44 34 More about the repertory system in chapter 4.4.3. Repertory. 35 Stagione (Italian for 'season') is an organisational system for presenting opera, often used by large companies. Typically each production is cast separately and has a brief but intensive run of performances. By contrast, companies that use a repertory system maintain a permanent company and rotate productions over many months or even years. 27
  • 29. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? symphony concerts, chamber music, theatre and children project. A total of 300 events, more then 90% of the theatre capacity. Since public funding decreased Semperoper is sponsored by a local beer brand. United States of America To understand the working situation in American opera houses nowadays a short summary of the history of opera in America and the current union system will be given. Opera in the United States is relatively young. With the first British colonies in the eighteenth century came some British opera, but the Italian American García family performed the first public opera in 1825 in New York. In 1935 America launched ‘The New Deal’, a funding project for the arts, where artists were entitled to employment as artists and where the arts were the legitimate concern of the federal government. Opera, however, was limited by the fear that it would be too expensive. Many of the operas were performed in concert form and the venues where these concert operas were performed were mostly not adequate for opera performances. The New Deal was also responsible for civic buildings, so they replaced old opera houses into Public Works Administration Auditoriums. These civic auditoriums later became the focal point of the proliferation of civic opera associations in the 1960s. In the 1930s and 1940s America contracted many singers, conductors and directors from Europe, since there just were not enough available in the nation itself. The New Deal was partly there to give the arts a more American character. Then the Second World War changed everything. Some artists went back to Europe, but even more artists came from Germany and Italy to the relatively safe United States. This created some stability in the opera development in the roaring years of the war. Just in the 1950’s opera was in the greatest period of growth. America was short after the Second World War and the appreciation for music grew wildly, also because of new technology like the long-playing record and the compact disc. The New York City Opera tried to compete with the popular Metropolitan opera by producing operas by American composers and forgotten European operas. They reorganised their finances and while the city and state governments waived their annual rent they turned to public fundraising. Between 1962 and 1987 the number of companies with budgets exceeding 100.000 dollars grew from 27 to 154; attendance at operas given by these companies rose from 4,5 million to 13 million; opera performances increased from 4,000 to 13,000 per year. In 1949 New York built the Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts, a building where the Metropolitan Opera House, the Philharmonic Hall, the Vivian Beaumont Theatre and the Juilliard School of Music would house. The total building price of $ 184 million was gained from city, state and federal governments ($40 million), the Ford Foundation ($25 million), the Rockefeller Foundation and John D. Rockefeller ($25 million). The rest came from individuals and corporations. 36 Economically opera was a disaster. America’s economic growth was based on increasing productivity, and with the coming of television live opera became stagnant. To produce an opera for television took less then twice the man-hours of live performance, but it reached an audience of perhaps twenty million. With the production costs rising opera had a huge financial problem. Opera is very labour-intensive, and this labour was the crux of the matter. The labour was badly paid and musicians, choristers and stagehands became members of unions like the American Federation of Labour to force higher payments. Artists were considered as workers and were treated the same way. To assure good income artists almost needed to become a union member. Until today this system is intact and has grown larger. Today the unions control every labour in the performing arts, including stagehands, technicians and electricians. The unions therewith also are in charge of working times, salaries, safety, and etcetera. It is the unions that 36 Opera in America – A cultural history, John Dizikes, Yale University, Yale 1993 28
  • 30. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? control the working circumstances of the regular employees of a modern opera house in America. Today many theatres in the United States are in repertory, like in the United Kingdom and Germany, and competing with commercial theatre. Repertory theatre with mostly changing casts and longer running productions are perhaps better classed as "provincial" or "non-profit" theatre. Italy The state support of opera in Italy is not what one could expect in the country where opera was bourn and where every city has a large opera house, and where streets and squares are named after famous opera artists. Around 1995 Italy appropriated €300 million of public money for opera, 0,01% of the total state budget. “With regard to finances, Milan’s Teatro alla Scala – one of the worlds greatest opera houses – received during a recent fiscal year, for example, approximately €43 million from the state, to which were added contributions of €4 million from the regional government, €190,090 from donors and private sources and €9,8 million from ticket sales. With interest, bequests, and money from record, 37 radio, and television rights, Teatro alla Scala’s total budget amounted to €70,6 million. It was not till after the Second World War that the present organizational structure in Italy was established. Law 800, passed on 14 August 1967, governs state support of opera. In the boards of the state supported opera houses are civic politicians seated to remain good connections between opera houses and the local government. The musical director is not included on the governing board. Riccardo Muti, music director at La Scala, Milan between 1986 and 2005, was not really enthusiastic about this system: “I believe the Italian system is defective in every field. The surgeon is not admitted to the governing board of the hospital, just as the conductor is not admitted to that of a theatre. The laws exclude the expert from the control room! It is a serious mistake, because you should hear the opinion of the person who is to carry out the operation, be it clinical or musical. Under the present system, results 38 are achieved by miracle rather than by normal or rational program.” There are two types of opera houses in Italy, the ente lirici and the teatro di tradizione. The ente lirici are self-governing but with financial government support. A national commission and their own local government govern the teatro di tradizione, or traditional theatre. With some exceptions, Italian houses follow the stagione system (stagione literally means ‘season’) rather then the repertory system. In the stagione system, only one opera is mounted at a time. This production may be repeated three or four to a dozen times before it closes. There are usually no changes in the cast. The length of the season and the amount of productions depends of the amount of government money. The ente lirici offer between six and ten operas a season, and the teatro di tradizione one or two to five or six. Originally each theatre, particularly the ente lirici produced their own opera’s, but because the productions costs are increasing and the state support is decreasing they have started to share productions with other Italian theatres and foreign theatres. In Italy before the Second World War all operas were translated to Italian, but with the sharing of productions they are performed in their language of origin. The Netherlands In the Netherlands opera is very young, even younger then opera in the United States of America. Since the seventeenth century travelling opera productions have visited the Netherlands, but just in 1986 the first national opera house was build in 37 Opera in Italy today, Nick Rossi, chapter 1, - ANELS 1989, tables 1 through 8 38 Jamieson, 1990 29
  • 31. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Amsterdam. Theatre circumstances in the Netherlands are unique in the world because most theatre companies travel through Holland with a production, so the performance visits its audience, unlike the German system, where people travel from far to see the production of a certain intendant. The opera house in Amsterdam is an exception but is forced by the government to travel at least once a year. The opera house is funded by the state with € 22,000,000, the highest amount of all art subsidies in the Netherlands.39 The Dutch system could be called stagione but is actually an exception because the opera house produces opera, ballet and receives foreign productions as well. 4.4.2. Planning in advance „The process of designing lighting goes back two years before you actually get something on stage. You meet the set designer, you meet the director, you meet the costume designer, and you talk about what you want the production to look like and what the concept is of this particular 40 production.” Every opera production has a preparation of a few years, in general three years. This is particularly necessary in the repertory system, since a lot has to be arranged. When the artistic director for example decides to produce a new version of La Bohème by Puccini, the first questions are: who will be the director, conductor and designer? Did they already work together; are they able to work together? When are they available at the same time, and do they have enough time to stage the production? Maybe even more important, who can and would be suitable to sing the arias and are they available? Who will be the lighting designer, the set designer and the costume designer and are they also available in the same period? When all of this is arranged the time of designing begins. The artistic team comes together to talk about the style and feeling or setting of the production. From here the designers start their work. When that is finished the different designs need to go to the different workshops; costumes have to be made, the set needs to be calculated and constructed, etc. If one would image how many people are involved in the realisation of a production, considering also the financial and marketing department every opera production easily exceeds no fewer then hundred employees per production, at least. Because all opera companies work more or less like this the system stays intact. Otherwise it would not even be possible, only if all opera houses would be stagione. 4.4.3. Repertory Repertory theatre is a form of Western theatre in which the same company of players rehearse and perform a sequence of plays in relatively rapid succession, so that each play is performed for a week or more. This means for example that after a rehearsal in the afternoon the stage needs rebuilding to a running opera or classic ballet that evening. „In straight theatre, there will be more dedicated lighting rehearsal time when you can experiment with different effects. In opera, as soon as rehearsal ends the crew is on stage taking out the scenery. Therefore much of your experimentation has to be done during rehearsals which gives you 41 no privacy to make mistakes” The repertory system also has a financial ground. The theatre can afford to take risks, and a show that attracts a large audience will effectively subsidize a show that is less ‘popular’. This is however not a reason to produce only popular operas; opera lovers do not only want La Bohème and Carmen. 39 Cultuurnota 2005 – 2008, Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science 40 Duane Schuler, lighting designer, Conversation Piece, Bruce Duffie, The Opera Journal, December 1998 41 Paule Constable, lighting designer, Light Switch, Rosy Runciman, Opera Now, September 2005 30
  • 32. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? The production costs however, increase, because each show needs separate sets, costumes and actors, although some actors play in multiple performances. Many companies are large, and are able to have a smaller space available for an experimental production. Many repertory companies today have non-profit status, so that budgets and income should be higher because they will not just depend upon ticket sales. However, the downside is that promotional costs will also be much higher due to having to employ a separate staff. 4.5. The internationality of the work circumstances Because of the great internationalisation of opera, as described in Chapter 2.3. Globalisation of opera, the working circumstance of opera is the most international of all theatre genres. It is no exception that within one production all performers and designers come from abroad. The internationality of the theatre environment is mostly visible in the credits of a production and in the archives of many opera houses. With music as cross- border basis there is no limit. When forming a new group of performers and designers the primary question is not whether available people are nearby but who is wanted and when he or she is available. Another thing to take in account is the connection between different opera houses. Since all opera houses have a partially equal scale most opera sets can only travel to other opera houses. 4.6. Origin of the current lighting designer Very few of the current group of international opera lighting designers have enjoyed education within theatrical design. Logically, since they’re just weren’t many studies in theatrical design in the seventies, the decade where many current lighting designers have the origin of their career. Almost none of them have a technical background, more often an artistic or humanities study. Actually many designers accidentally ended up in theatrical design when they could not find a job, with or without a passion for theatre. The most common way to become a lighting designer is to work as an assistant lighting designer, which most current designers did. In the last fifty years the actual existence of a lighting designers has developed from the thoughts of the director to a real profession. Thanks to the globalisation and industrialisation of theatre, designers got the possibility to go with the extension and liberalisation of the director. A very good example of this can be found in the Internet archive of the National Ballet of Canada, where the ballet productions of the last sixty years are listed, with the lighting designer in one of the columns. One can clearly see the development of the profession, as the fields are empty in the beginning.42 The nationalities of lighting designers show a shifting with respect to the nationalities of directors or composers. An example of this is visible in the statistic analyses of the origin of designers working in Amsterdam, as shown in Chapter 1.01. Subject resources. Currently there are a quite a few studies in lighting design, although the origin of actual studies in lighting design is in the United States. Many large art schools and universities in the United States have a course in lighting design, e.g. the Yale University with Jennifer Tipton, a lighting designer herself. Duane Schuler attempted one of those courses in the United States, as well as Reinier Tweebeeke. Since the first courses where in the United States, many European lighting designer went to the States to enjoy a course. 42 http://www.national.ballet.ca/about.php?archives 31
  • 33. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? In Europe we can find courses in lighting design e.g. in London, on the Central school of Speech and Drama, in Finland on the Theatre Academy of Helsinki, in the Netherlands in the iLO (Instituut lichtontwerpen / international Lighting designers Organisation) in Spain on the Insitut del Teatre in Barcelona43, and on some other art schools in the same or other countries. We can conclude that there are only a few courses in theatrical lighting design in Europe, especially compared the amount of courses in the United States, where almost every larger city has a course. 43 There are of course more courses in Europe, but these are internationally recognised. 32
  • 34. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Chapter 5. Analyses of the interviews In this chapter the interviews performed for this dissertation are being analysed to collect realistic theatre practice experiences and meanings. These experiences and opinions will be compared to the information from the literary study and function as a reflection. Most of the interviews took place in Amsterdam, when the lighting designers were working there, preparing an opera. The interviews will be analysed chronologically and certain parts will be quoted in order to emphasise the experience of the interviewed designer and stay as close to the original interview as possible. In the interviews we can already trace some interesting statements on the subject of the research. These statements will be highlighted after every interview in the Interview notes. Some of these statement corroborate the hypothesis as given in the introduction if this dissertation, specifically concerning the working circumstances, divided in time, equipment and quality. Also, the cultural difference between the four lighting designers can be traced ‘between the lines’ of their statements in the interviews, which will also be described in the Interview notes. In the analyses of the interviews there will not be much information about the personal style of lighting design of the interviewed lighting designers. The specific aim of the interviews was to approach the working circumstances and the internationality and globalisation of opera lighting design as described in Introduction. Although the style of designing of the interviewed lighting designers is very interesting it is not possible to give a description of these styles out of the interviews. Since the author of this dissertation has only visited a few opera productions where the lighting designers of this dissertation made the lighting design, it would not be representative to give a longer description of the style of lighting. The writing style in this chapter is less formal, since the interviews ask for a more personal approach, in relation to the subject. 33
  • 35. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? 5.1. Duane Schuler, USA; the economic conditions 5.1.1. Short biographical introduction. Duane Schuler has worked in the Lyric Opera of Chicago, but also travels as a freelance lighting designer for opera, organisations as New York Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Manhattan Theatre Club, Houston Grand Opera, Salzburg Festival, Deutsche Opera Berlin and American Ballet Theatre. Duane Schuler is one of the founders of Schuler Shook, a company in architectural lighting design, which Duane Schuler initiated together with Robert Shook, an architectural lighting designer. Although this company mainly collaborates with architects, Duane Schuler still only designs within theatre, ballet and opera. 5.1.2. The interview The interview took place on January 18 in the Muziektheater Amsterdam. I met Duane Schuler in the lobby after a rehearsal of Tannhäuser44 where he made the lighting design. The biography of Duane Schuler is one like the biographies of many other lighting designers. After tertiary school he did not really know what to do. He was an engineer in electronics and went to an art school, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he followed a course in stage lighting by Gilbert HemsleyXIII and started to work for him as an assistant. During his art study he had followed extra art subjects which he experienced to be very useful and important for his career, like art history. After that he also took courses in set and costume design. He spoke the ‘general theatre language’ due to his knowledge of art and paintings. Accompanied by Gilbert Hemsley he made his first own design in the Tyron GuthrieXIV theatre with a performance of Love Labours Lost45. Gilbert was not available for the production and gave him a chance. DUANE SCHULER: I was very enthusiastic for lighting due to the classes of Gilbert. It is the pleasure of one spot in the dark. Gilbert actually pushed me in and I thought: “This is it!” His first opera was in the Houston Opera. After that he did a production for The Lyric Opera in Chicago. Since then he mainly lit opera. DUANE SCHULER: In the United States in the larger opera houses there was system of resident designers. As a resident designer you fulfil the vision of another designer or a director. The ‘house electrician’ eventually did the job. When I started as a lighting designer the first lighting designers from Europe came to the United States, and a transition began. At present it is a normal profession, and it really is the ‘frosting on the cake!’ Ninety percent of what I do is opera because opera directors ask me two years in advance. Theatre asks me later, it is very hard to say no. You know where you are working in two years, which is very comfortable. Before his first opera designs Duane did not really know opera, although he had visited theatre. DUANE SCHULER: Nowadays there is also less difference between theatre and opera; a singer is also an actor. 44 Tannhäuser is an opera of Richard Wagner, written between 1842 and 1845. 45 A play by William Shakespeare, performed in the Guthrie Theatre, in the 1974-75 Season and directed by Michael Langham 34
  • 36. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? “In the preparation of an opera production it is hard to imagine what your are talking about”, says Duane, “If your ideas are visualised, the conversation with the director goes much faster.” I ask Duane about his impression of opera in the United States when he began. He has a remarkable view on the ‘American’ opera productions. DUANE SCHULER: The United States copied European opera. The Lyric Opera in Chicago offered typical Italian opera, with Italian directors and Italian set designs. Everything was import. He continues with his experiences abroad: DUANE SCHULER: My experience is that French and Italian opera is quite the same. The difference between countries is also traceable in the music, the composer. When I did a production with Tan XV Dun in China I encountered a language problem. I speak a bit German and Italian but no Chinese. It worked because we had a common vision on the stage; we spoke ‘through theatre’. However, a certain foundation was really important, a good knowledge of the piece. Duane is not sure whether there is a difference per nationality; he thinks the differences are more individual, not cultural. He also mentions the globalisation of opera in the last ten years, which is, according to him, of great significance. DUANE SCHULER: Of course there are differences, but staging an opera is the same as staging theatre or dance. Maybe it is different in every city, in every theatre, depending on the house itself. Although, there is a technical difference: the voltage in the United States. In the United States the voltage is lower, so they use more lights. In Europe they rather use big lights. This creates a difference in style. And the HMI, for example, came from Europe. Actually, only on Broadway, in the commercial ventures, the inventory equals Europe. The biggest problem is to be pressed for time, 46 although more and more is possible . Opera in the United States is in repertory, so the refocusing of spotlights is one of the biggest problems. This problem will stay, because of this repertory system. Some designers hate the repertory system, I don’t. You need to know whether your show gets better when you are editing in a repertory theatre. You should adjust the design to the venue. In the Lyric Opera in Chicago Duane adapted most of the shows form other designers or from the director. In the beginning this was an easy job, he could start on an empty sheet with the director. In this period he found out that he rather joins the artistic team. That is what happens today, lighting designers are part of the artistic team. When working abroad he encounters a difference between the United States and Europe. DUANE SCHULER: A missed my debut in La Scala Milan, Italy because I was working in Baden Baden, Germany. The mentality in the United States is that an assistant would take over, but in Europe a resident lighting technician lights the show, although adapted from the original design. The re-lighting and replacing of a lighting plot is very difficult in Europe. In a European situation a resident technician and the designer will sit next to the, usually very demanding director. The director wants to sit in a ‘hot seat’ with the designer. I lit a Fidelio in Salzburg Germany and afterwards went with the show to Tokio Japan. When the show moved to Lyon France my assistant replaced me. I think it is very important to have an assistant. The assistant will want to become a designer, so it is the perfect place to learn. Duane discovered one of the other differences in Lyon France. As a lighting designer, you do not really know what other designers are doing, but on a festival in Lyon he noticed that Jean Kalman does not use lighting plots, but only sketches. In the United States one always has a lighting plot and data-sheets with technical lighting data. DUANE SCHULER: In the beginning of this performance of Tannhäuser I was working on The Basserids in Tokio, Japan. I was doing the set design and with the creative team there we decided to make this production here in Amsterdam in this period. 46 Analyses of this statement can be found in the Interview notes. 35
  • 37. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Here we notice a perfect example of the long preparation time and the path from the initial idea for a production to an actual performance, independent from language, location and nationality. DUANE SCHULER: The lighting design in Tannhäuser is unique and one of a kind. I design a complete world, not just a set. We go back to the differences between Europe and the United States, the parts of the world where opera is most active and Duane Schuler is active in. Next to the technical differences between Europe and the United States he has also encountered a difference in the taste of the European and American opera visitor. DUANE SCHULER: Opera is Europe is relativity modern and less traditional, also depending on the exact country. The taste of the United States is very traditional. But Italy is also traditional compared to Germany. We end our conversation and in the last minutes Duane puts opera in a worldwide cultural perspective. DUANE SCHULER: Opera is globally connected and moves through cultures and countries, spreading itself over the world, through art. 5.1.3. Interview notes Considering Duane Schuler as an United States lighting designer we can trace a few interesting statements for the research of this dissertation. When we were talking about the differences between Europe and the United States he perfectly outlined some advantages and disadvantages of the repertory system and the working circumstances in the United States or Europe. Using his statements we can highlight the following about the working circumstances in the United States, in the repertory system. Time Everyone is short in time, since the opera houses are in strict repertory, and there is only little time for rehearsals and lighting session. The complete show, including the lighting design, has to be prepared before the production us staged in the venue, since there is barely time for adjustments. Equipment The voltage in the United States is 110 Volts, so there is a difference in the luminance of the lighting spots, compared to Europe. The inventory of most opera houses, however, does not equal Europe, although one needs more spots to create an equal luminance level. Quality Consider the shortcoming in actual staging time one can wonder how collective the designing process in the United States is. If all disciplines have there design prepared before they enter the venue, there will not be enough time to start a creative process. It is very hard to say whether this has effect on the quality, but compared to other organisational structures the time pressure could affect the quality of the production. 36
  • 38. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? 5.2. John B. Read, Great Britain; the accurate preparation 5.2.1. Short biographical introduction John B. Read is acknowledged to be among the most outstanding lighting designers working internationally in dance, opera, theatre and music. He is largely responsible for establishing lighting as an integral part of dance presentation through his work with most major classical and contemporary ballet companies in four continents, including dance companies in Berlin, Paris, Stockholm, Milan and Australia as well as New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. […] As the consultant lighting designer to England's Royal Ballet, Mr. Read has also had the opportunity to work with every major choreographer in productions at Covent Garden. Internationally, Mr. Read has worked with the Stuttgart, Munich and Houston ballet companies, the Paris Opera and Vienna State Opera Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Het Nationale Ballet, The Scottish Ballet, London Festival Ballet, Gulbenkian Ballet in Portugal, the Batsheva and Bat-dor companies in Israel, the San Francisco Ballet, Ballet Rambert and London Contemporary Dance Theatre. 47 5.2.2. The interview The interview took place on February 15 in the Muziektheater Amsterdam. John B. Read had visited Amsterdam to light the ballet production La Bayadere, which he has lit before. I met him in the lobby just like Duane Schuler short after lighting rehearsal. I began the conversation with John B Read with asking him about the past, what he had done. He had worked in theatre since he was a schoolboy. Always having an interest in drama and becoming a theatrical artist was something that “just happened”. From being an actor on stage he moved on backstage, knowing that what he wanted to do was “in theatre and with light”. JOHN B READ: I knew instinctively what to do. It was just like, “Okay, where are the lights, right, how do they work, right, okay, well, where are the colours”, etc. It just happened. I didn’t actually think, “I plan to be a lighting designer”, it just happened. […] I have been incredibly lucky that I have been in the right place at the right time to get major jobs. Of course I had put my neck out many, many times. I wanted things that I was under qualified for. Shows much bigger then myself. I just clawed my way up through experience to where I finally got. John B Read never stopped learning; according to him theatre lighting is a learning curve all the time. You think you know and than you find out that you have learned something new. Read has visited the Amsterdam opera house many times so he knows the size of the rig and the size of the operation. Coming this time he finds it interesting to see how things have changed and what equipment has been updated. JOHN B READ: Sometimes when you work on a show you will find that colours which have worked for you before no longer work in a certain situation. Something that you have done previously, maybe two years ago, looks incorrect when you view that maybe two years later. Your style changes, so you never ever finish learning. And that of course keeps you fresh all the time. I mean, you can’t remember everything. When I first started I immediate knew every colour that was available, I knew its number, I knew what looked like. You do need to think about colour all the time; I still do it every day. 47 National Ballet of Canada, http://www.national.ballet.ca 37
  • 39. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Directly after the first questions John B. Read surprises me with a small guide about how he works and how a lighting designer could, or maybe should work in a designing process. His method goes back to first principles. JOHN B. READ: First principles are always the best. When you are a lighting designing you go back to first principles every time. Try no to take a pre-conceived idea, just go back, start again, start from an empty canvas if you like. Think through what you need, why do you need it. What affects you emotionally; it is al from your emotion, from the stomach, as well as from your head. It is the emotion that you feel about something which accurately influences where you are going to go with it. Your head comes at a later stage when you organize what you are thinking and what you are doing, but you start from first principles. John B. Read manoeuvred himself into the role of lighting designer, however the Chichester Festival Theatre with Laurence Olivier48 in 1962 was really a springboard to get various shows. John B. Read seems to be someone who clearly realizes what he wants: JOHN B. READ: The best way is to approach directors and say, “Hey listen, I want to light your show.” They will say either yes or no or ask what have you done. When you start you can usually say, well, I have assisted so and so on, I have done this or I have done that or whatever. It is a slow process, but that is the way you do it, that is where you get in. From lighting plays and theatre he got to opera and ballet in a few years. He went with Olivier to the Old Vic Theatre in London and met Richard Pilbrow, author of “Stage Lighting”, one of the literary sources for this dissertation. Pilbrow contracted him in his company Theatre Projects Lighting in London. From there he worked for the Rambert Dance Company with the American choreographer Glen Tetley. With this choreographer he worked together for over forty years. It was the first time he lit dance. JOHN B READ: I had no idea how you would light dance at all. I said, “Yes, yes, I’ll do it, I’ll do it. I travelled out to rehearsals; you better come to see rehearsals. When you light a play, you go and see a run-through, write the moves in the script so you know everything about the show. You know where all the actors come from and where they go off. You write down the changes of mood and what affects you. You put together a program from which you divide your lighting design. So I thought, “How do you do this with dance, because they are all moving around the stage with an alarming rage, all the time? How do you do it?”. I suddenly thought, “Well, I know what I’ll do, I’ll get my book and I make some squares. Here a first difference between theatre and dance works its way into the designing process. John B. Read clearly explains how dance is different from theatre and how he would prepare the design. Out of his bag he grabs a sketchbook and he starts explaining how to design lighting for dance. JOHN B. READ: You take a piece of paper and you sketch miniature stages on the paper and draw the dancers movements. So you get a pictorial effect of where the dancers are on the stage and how they get there. And then you, with your stopwatch, note the time that it happens. Now you know when this all happens so you get your script and score in a way. I do that for the whole ballet. And then from there I am then able to decide how to do it. I then write a scene synopsis of what the atmosphere should be, how I feel about it. And from there I would then write a cue. PIETER PLOEG: And do you use another method in opera? JOHN B. READ: No, I use exactly the same method in opera because lighting to the stage of performance is all visual. Well, I would use a slightly different method, I suppose, depending on whether you use a score in opera or not. When I first started in opera I always used a score because I could read it. With opera maybe it is not so necessary to draw all the movements because there is not so much movement, but certainly you need to draw mimic pictures of the stage and decide where your coverage is going to come from and what sort of look you want. 48 Laurence Olivier (1907 - 1989) was an English actor, director and producer. 38
  • 40. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Read hereby outlines the differences between opera and dance, as explained before in Chapter 4.2. Lighting an opera, a play, or dance as regards content. JOHN B. READ: I think the golden rule is that any method that helps you to put together a framework from which you can develop is the right one. He describes the importance of structure and the differences between the script of a play and the score of an opera or dance. Opera is more difficult because there are so many pages and dance is difficult because there is almost nothing to write down. Structure for John B. Read is something to go back to and refer to, because you might not get it all in one goal. Structure is important because you might need to go back a second and a third time to revisit you thoughts on something. JOHN B. READ: You examine it very carefully, so by the time you actually come to the stage to do it, you have a really clear idea of where you are going. That is the key to the success. It appears that John B. Read is a very precise, disciplined and well prepared designer. From this consideration on the correct designing method the conversation moves on to the experiences abroad. John B. Read cannot really remember his first shows abroad but his experiences in the seventies show a distinction between the working circumstances in Germany and England. In Germany, working for choreographer John Cranko, he experienced a great lack of material in many of the large venues; he even had to bring colours from England. Also France and Italy had a lack of material in the seventies, like very little top light and no physical means of focussing it. He admits that it is of course changed now, the mental approach has changed completely, and now it is possible to do most things everywhere. This could be one of the efforts of the opera globalisation. PIETER PLOEG: If you consider that Germany, France and Italy have a long history of opera and ballet how would you explain the differences between the relatively young United Kingdom and America and those countries? JOHN B. READ: Well I think, in terms of the United Kingdom, we did not pull the United Kingdom forward in lighting design until the 1980’s. When I joined the opera house as a lighting consultant at the Royal Ballet in 1980, again there were very few lights over the stage. There were only twenty of them. Now it is over three hundred, I think, that’s about it. So we slowly I built up a whole system of only head lighting equipment at Covent Garden. But prior to there was no physical mean of focusing it. In 1980 I went in there to reorganise and get equipment over the stage. What happens now, in this particular time, is that we have too much equipment; we have too much colour, and the equipment can be as bright as you want it. The problem with that is, that the brighter it is, the brighter you want it. Everyone is trying to extend everything upwards. By telling about his experience Read outlines some very interesting distinctions, especially the following part explains very clearly the difference between the repertory and the stagione system, or the difference between America and Europe. PIETER PLOEG: The first time you went to a country like Japan, China, Australia or America, did you encounter differences in what you could name as the ‘European theatre culture’ and the American? JOHN B. READ: Yes, I think Australia and Japan and China have taken the European method of working because designers from Europe had a bigger influence there. The Americans are very much their own people and they have a very similar experience. John B. Read’s first experience in the United States was in 1973. He had worked for the Metropolitan Opera House, lighting an opera, the production of Benjamin Britten’s ‘Dead in Venice’. Working in a big house was not difficult for him, but dealing with the American culture was difficult in so far that a theatre like the New York Metropolitan Opera House is very expensive to run. The crews are demanding, the unions are strong, everything is utterly expensive, and you have to be sure of what you are doing. 39
  • 41. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? JOHN B. READ: There is never ever any time in America for experiment, not in large theatres. You go in, you do it, you get out and you get it right first time. You do not have time to change your mind; that is far too expensive. Do not go into a place like the Metropolitan Opera House, unless you know what you are about. There are mistakes that you cannot make. You have to make your mistakes in small theatres, not in big ones. What sometimes happened in that period was that, because labour charges were so expensive in those days, the Metropolitan Opera House would flew John B. Read up to New York, just to focus the show, and fly him back to London. And then he flew out a week later to light the show. It was cheaper to do that. The above explanation clearly shows the effect of the economical conditions on the production and on the working circumstances of the designer. John B. Read works most of the time with the same choreographers, the same directors and designers. JOHN B. READ: You ledge onto people, they like your work and you continue to work with them, and you hope that new, and young people will come and take a look. 5.2.3. Interview notes One of the things we can say about John B. Read is that he is an accurate preparer. As well as after the previous and next interview the statements of John B. Read can be analysed on time, equipment and quality. Time Jut as Duane Schuler John B. Read underlines the fact of time shortage in the repertory system in the United States of America, and by saying that experimenting under those circumstances is not possible he makes a statement on the designing process. Where does the lighting designer make his creative and artistic decisions? John B. Read makes them before he enters the venue, in conversation with e.g. director and set designer, but also on his drawing table. Equipment About the equipment John B. Read has a particular statement, which is interesting because it shows the advancement and development of technology. JOHN B. READ: What happens now, in this particular time, is that we have too much equipment; we have too much colour, and the equipment can be as bright as you want it. The problem with that is, that the brighter it is, the brighter you want it. Everyone is trying to extend everything upwards. If everything is actually being extended upwards this will cause a change in lighting design. The question will not be: “What do you have?” but “What do I want?” If everything is possible, where are the limits? The limits of used equipment in the designs of lighting designers set the style of lighting. If all opera lighting designers would stop using HMI, it would be a change in style; they made the artistic decision of not using HMI. More and more different lighting equipment and fixtures are available, the decision what to use will be an artistic decision of the lighting designer. 40
  • 42. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Quality Taking these last statements on time and equipment into account we can analyse a few things from the words of John B. Read. The designing of larger productions, especially in strict repertory takes place before the designers enter the stage, and the used equipment is an artistic decision, rather then the usage of available solutions. In terms of quality this could mean that it is not possible to design on stage, together with the director and set designer, which could be a disadvantage of the repertory system. On the other hand the lighting designer has more and more freedom as the technology develops, so the artistic quality is enlarged. 41
  • 43. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? 5.3. Reinier Tweebeeke, Holland; a unique production 5.3.1. Short biographical introduction Lighting designer Reinier Tweebeeke started his career with the Amsterdam musical theatre company Hauser Orkater as a lighting designer and technician. Since 1985 he works as a freelance lighting designer with almost all big Dutch stage companies with multiple directors like Leonard Frank, Gerard Jan Reijnders, Hans Croiset, Johan Doesburg and Ger Thijs. Abroad he was active in Belgium, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the United States. He made the original design for Cyrano, the musical on Broadway in New York and in the Netherlands as well. In 1995 he was the first Dutch contribution to the Prague Quadrennial for Scenography. In 1996 he debuted in De Nederlandse Opera with Rigoletto. In 1997 he established a Lighting Designers Association together with Marc Heinz, also a lighting designer. This company is now called Rapenburg Plaza. 5.3.2. The interview The interview took place in Rapenburg Plaza, the office of Reinier Tweebeeke in Amsterdam on March 21, 2007. We met in the early morning in his office in the centre of Amsterdam. During the interview he was full of anecdotes. In my introduction and explanation of the research he directly had an answer on my phrasing: REINIER TWEEBEEKE: It is different working in Germany, it is different working in France, different working in Italy, different working in the United Kingdom, and it is different working the USA. These differences are sometimes immense and it depends on the state subsidy system. The municipal theatre of Hamburg Germany for example is a large, well-subsidised organisation of four hundred people with different layers of authority, a bit like the opera house in Amsterdam. A commercial production is differently organised, different in structure. It is also the scale of opera; it is a huge, rather heavy institute. In Amsterdam there is a Technical Organisation Musical theatre for the Opera, the Ballet, and the Guest programming. Officially it should has been one technical group, but what shows now is that in 49 fact there is a opera lighting crew, a ballet lighting crew and something for the guest programming. I don’t know how they take up position to the foreign lighting designers, but I know how I am treated in Germany, so I have some supposition; I assume that the same counts in the Netherlands. Already before the first question Reinier talks about three interesting facts. He makes a distinction between the subsidised and the commercial production. Furthermore he has a view on the approach to foreign lighting designers in different countries. I explain him whom I interviewed and how I try to do the research. REINIER TWEEBEEKE: I assume that it is interesting to see what those designers from abroad experience in the company here, because here they regularly work with foreign designers. I mean, I was the first Dutch designer for the opera here, with Rigoletto, about ten years ago, and I am still the only one. Now I am doing one again, the Lucia di Lammermoor. And that’s not only the situation for lighting designers, only Rien Bekker comes here as a costume designer. The question is why this is only happing within opera. According to Reinier it is because opera is international and because we have a foreign intendant. Moreover, the opera scene is rather small; so people offer each other work. 49 st In the Muziektheater, all lighters work for all productions. Only the 1 lighters are divided over ballet and opera, considering their knowledge of technology and the repertoire. 42
  • 44. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? REINIER TWEEBEEKE: I think there is no one in Holland that can run the Amsterdam opera house, which is why we have a foreigner. And we had to give him carte blanche, and that carte blanche shows itself also in the contracted designers. It is not only because of Pierre Audi, it is also the structure of opera. It is a very international world and therefore with very international designers. Here in the Netherlands we don’t have a famous opera director; Monique Wagemakers is the only Dutch opera director working in the opera house in Amsterdam. If a Dutch opera director would really break through internationally it would also create possibilities for Dutch designers, because the director of course brings his or her creative team. Reinier started his work in theatre as a technician for Hauser Orkater. In 1980 he went to the United States to do a course on lighting design. Back in the Netherlands he made his first designs and was confronted by a director, a new phenomenon in Dutch theatre. REINIER TWEEBEEKE: As a lighting designer you are depending on the director, the director has to see something in you work, and has to recognize the importance of lighting design. Nowadays, when you put together a creative team for a new show there always is a lighting designer. Twenty-five years ago that was not the case, but people realized that a specific person working on the light has an added value. The shows lit by Reinier Tweebeeke where not only straight plays. Reinier did many designs for Conny Jansen Danst, a Dutch dance company. His former work however included also very musical theatre and mixtures of genres like film, dance and theatre. His first opera designs where made for De Nederlandse Opera (Ricoletto) and De Nationale Reisopera. He does not believe in a specific distinction in lighting per genre. REINIER TWEEBEEKE: Americans have the tendency to say: “There is ‘Opera Lighting’, ‘Ballet Lighting’, ‘Musical Lighting’ and there are ‘Opera Colours’, ‘Ballet Colours’, etc.” I think it is not very arousing to approach it like that. I lit a musical in New York, and I used many follow spots. When I came back I lit a small play in The Hague, and I used follow spots again, which had not been done before. I also used low sidelight in another play, also called ballet towers. In dance for example, in classical ballet, some people only change the colour of these sidelights and thereby have a new design. I think it is one of the most important tasks of my job not to be led by consequences. According to Reinier Tweebeeke the role of music in the designing process has much to do with timing. REINIER TWEEBEEKE: In musical and musical theatre the timing of the music inspires the dramaturgy of the lighting. In theatre there could be a very clear end of a scene, as a dot after a sentence. It could be a very clear moment for a blackout. In opera a scene has a dramatic end in the music. If you listen to the music you will always adapt your timing in the visual images to the timing in the music. Does the music require and extra push, or an accent? When inspired by the music in a new opera Reinier outlines something else; REINIER TWEEBEEKE: Some directors sometimes compulsorily seek for a new way to approach an old opera to distinct themselves from the eighty-five versions that have been produced so far. In a new opera you are totally free. Reinier had his first foreign experiences with Hauser Orkater in France and freelance in Germany and in Norway. He describes the economical condition of the city theatre in Tromsø, Norway, a small city in the north of Norway. The national government has economical concerns about this village since it could be an important harbour in the future. The place is not very popular to live since it is very dark and cold in the long winter. The city theatre however is rather large and very well funded, with twenty-five actors under contract and a full setting workshop. Germany is very different again: REINIER TWEEBEEKE: Germany is very strict. Only the great directors can afford to contract a foreign designer. Mostly the resident lighting designer designs all productions. In Düsseldorf, a few years ago, I had to do if I was the set designer, together with Ruud Dekkers, the actual set designer. In Hamburg I did an official lighting design, but still, the structure is difficult and it will take a while before this structure changes. 43
  • 45. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? As an example of his previous statement Reinier Tweebeeke describes a lighting session in Hamburg: REINER TWEEBEEKE: I had to get used to the system because when I asked someone to go up and change a spot I would hear that that was not possible. There were technicians everywhere; on, around and above the stage, each controlling about ten different spots. And then also in different occupations (after a few ours they where all replaced) so the positions where permanently occupied. When we where finished they were not put on something else. This last example is one of the attributes of the German repertory system. To speed up lighting design, in order to decrease the used time, there are fixed lighting positions with fixed lighters, working within fixed our schedules. REINIER TWEEBEEKE: And then Broadway, that is totally different again. There you just get an empty theatre and you fill it. That is very nice, but you have to think of every single light, and everything has to be justified with the producer. Everything is expensive. All personnel are in very strict union restrictions and overtime is also very expensive. Here in the Netherlands it is not that strict, but it is becoming stricter with today’s safety regulations. He makes the comparison himself: REINIER TWEEBEEKE: Broadway and Hamburg is a huge difference. Broadway is totally controlled by the unions; it is quite old-fashioned there. Technician that are not a member of a union have to report themselves every day and then maybe there is work somewhere; the unions are very powerful. And when you have work that could be finished in one day you loose your job after that day. That is of course very different from Hamburg where someone works with the same ten spots for many years. The people are very different. Another difference for Reinier is whether a production is subsidised or commercial: REINIER TWEEBEEKE: Musicals that are being made here are made on another way as opera is made here. Lighting opera is comfortable because you know that you are lighting a show in two years. With a commercial production you do not even really know whether it will go on at all. That is a big difference. However, I think that England, the United States and Germany have much in common. Reinier awaits and thinks of an anecdote suitable to describe the situation in the United States. He tells me about the musical Cyrano in New York which he lit. There was a scene with a small tent and a campfire. The campfire was a small electronic campfire effect. On a certain moment the executive producer asked Reinier what a particular guy was doing on stage. It appeared that he was a deck-electrician, full-time there for this campfire effect, he was calculated in when they made the inventory. The campfire was deleted, because it was too expensive. Something like that would only happen in the large commercial or subsidised productions. Reinier has lit many dance productions and I ask him about the role of the director or choreographer and the differences between those professions when working with a lighting designer. It is just the same according to Reinier. REINIER TWEEBEEKE: As a lighting designer you are always working with a director. Well, replace director by choreographer in dance; he is yet your tension partner. The director is responsible after all, that is what I have learned in all those years. If I want red and the director wants blue, and I cannot convince him, then he will be right, simplistically spoken. Therewith he also carries the responsibility of the production. In 2004 Reinier lit a dance performance with Conny Janssen Danst, a Dutch dance company where the dance was inspired by the lighting design. Because he had work with Conny Janssen Danst so many times it was possible to turn it the other way around. We go back to the international difference and I ask him about time schedules and facilities. ”In the United States there is only working time if you pay for it”, says Reinier. “In opera it will be organised everywhere, the differences won’t be great, you will get the time you need. Two years in advance you know when you are lighting and how many ours.” 44
  • 46. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Reinier does not have a favourite country to work in, but he likes working abroad: REINIER TWEEEBEEKE: The comfortable thing of working abroad is that you are only occupied with one thing; you are not available for all the other things. That is actually the fun thing of working abroad; you can just say, “I am not there!” I don’t have the ambition to really go abroad, also because I have people waiting for me here in the Netherlands. Having someone at home is the difficult part of travelling. Travelling abroad is a different life. 5.3.3 Interview notes Reinier Tweebeeke was really recognisable as a Dutch lighting designer. He dislikes conventional lighting design, and has a critical view on many other convention and restrictions. As well a Duane Schuler and John B. Read he outlines the differences between repertory and stagione, but also between subsidised and commercial. Reinier Tweebeeke also designs for musicals and dance, which was clearly visible in his statements. Internationality Reinier Tweebeke is the only Dutch lighting designer listed in 1.01. Subject resources. Since he lit theatre, dance, opera and musical in Holland and abroad it is expectable that he is among the small group of international lighting designers. In his last quotation however, he shows how a lighting designer can make the decision not to enter the small world of opera lighting design. Reinier Tweebeeke prefers working within different genres and in the Netherlands. Therewith, he strengthens the character of the small world of opera lighting Genre Disregarding the convention of dividing lighting design per genre he states that the act of lighting design is new and unique in every production. Besides the differences in working circumstances there are no differences within the design process, every production is new and has particular qualities that have to be taken into account. 45
  • 47. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? 5.4. Jean Kalman, France; nothing is equal 5.4.1. Short biographical introduction Lighting designer Jean Kalman has lit numerous productions worldwide. Opera productions includes Elijah (Japan), Dido and Aeneas (Vienna Festival), La Clemenza di Tito, Don Giovanni, Fidelio (Glyndebourne), La Traviata, The Turn of the Screw, Giulio Cesare (ROH), Wozzeck (Opera North), Peter Grimes, Lohengrin, Der Rosenkavalier, Mary Stuart, Semele, St. John Passion (ENO), Diary of One Who Vanished (ENO/RNT), Pelléas et Mélisande (WNO), Turandot, La Boheme, Madama Butterfly, Il Trittico (De Vlaamse Opera), Nabucco, Alcina, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, The Cunning Little Vixen, Le Nozze di Figaro (Paris), Eugene Onegin (Venice, Met), Dialogues des Carmelites (Amsterdam, Milan, Paris, Japan, Spain), Elektra (Salzburg, Florence), Jenufa (Salzburg), TEA (Suntory Hall and De Nederlandse Opera), Otello (Florence, Bolshoi, Geneva, Barcelona). His theatre work includes numerous productions with the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company.He won Olivier awards for Best Lighting for Richard III and White Chameleon (both at the National Theatre) and the 2004 Evening Standard Award for Best Lighting for Festen (West End).50 5.4.2. The interview The interview took place in the Grand Théâtre de la Ville de Luxembourg in Luxemburg on April 27, 2007. This interview was hard to arrange. Jean Kaman often works in Amsterdam, but unfortunately not during the time of the research. Arriving at the Grand Théâtre it was lunchtime after a lighting session. I met Jean Kalman in his temporary office, next to the production office of the new production Wagner Dream, a co- production of De Nederlandse Opera and the Grand Théâtre, the Holland Festival and the Paris Ircam-Centre Pompidou. We went for a table at the restaurant in front of the theatre. In the queue for a table Jean met Patrick Linmoth, a set designer with whom he often worked and planned to work approached us and started to chat with Kalman about the working circumstances of the set designer. They decided to share a table and with the assistant of Jean and the assistant of Patrick we sat down for lunch. I asked him about his origin, his time with Peter Brook, his philosophy study and how he ended up in theatre. JEAN KALMAN: In theatre I ended up by chance, I cannot say by mistake but just be chance. I was looking for a job and I was offered a job as an electrician. At some point I studied philosophy, I was a teacher. In France you study philosophy in high school. I thought very quickly that that was not a life for me. So I tried different jobs; I worked as a cinematographer, as a cameraman and assistant cameraman, photographer, production photographer. Very freelance, so any job was interesting. At some time I did not have any job and I was offered a job as theatre electrician. So I worked quite a lot as theatre electrician and also on the board, in and out, not staying in a theatre mostly because I was a teacher and it was not a freelance job. I wanted to be really free; I did not want to establish myself anywhere in a theatre. Here we can read about the origin of this lighting designer. No theatre background, and also no technical study. Philosophy as background but with some freelance jobs in photography and film. In the beginning he only worked in France, but soon he crossed the border: JEAN KALMAN: I started in France but it happened that I for instance had one director who asked me to do the lighting of a German opera, so he took me to Germany. He had a production in 50 Los Angeles Opera house, artist archive. 46
  • 48. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Germany; he took me to Germany. So that is the way it starts, and then just developing; the French directors, they brought me the contacts. This is a perfect example of the start of an international career as a lighting designer. In the collaborative designing process as a freelancer, one can work everywhere. JEAN KALMAN: Going from electrician to designer happens when you work in a young company. When they need an electrician and at the same time need somebody to do the lighting, which is usually simple lighting, they would ask you to do the lighting. It works well. For instance there was a friend, an actor, we knew each other from the time I was an electrician who asked: “Why don’t you do the lighting for me?” Developing like that. Patrick Linmoth, the set designer joining our table interrupts us with a few questions for Kalman about the new production Madrigalen from Monteverdi for the Montiverdi cycle produced by De Nederlandse Opera, to be performed in September 2007. Afterwards, I ask Jean Kalman about his time with Peter Brook. He very often worked with Peter Brook, but got in touch with opera in the same period. JEAN KALMAN: I was doing different things, I was working with other directors, I was doing modern opera. The opera grew you know. The positive and the negative thing of working in opera is that opera invades your working space, because the opera plans very long in advance. When you are asked to do operas, you are asked to do them very long in advance and then there is less and less possibility for theatre. It is very difficult to say no to projects that are coming, which usually, as project, look exciting. It is hard to say no to a project of opera, which comes from lets say tree years in advance. And then you have theatre, which is less in advance, and dance, which is the shortest term. In terms of width, longest in advance is opera, theatre is shorter and the shortest term is the ballet. That is why I never did ballet, it never happened Here Jean Kalman clearly describes the situation of the long planning in advance. If a lighting designer is in this longer planning, it is not possible to do something else in between, unless one plans it long in advance as well. Continuing the interview he describes the differences between genres: JEAN KALMAN: Yes obviously you have differences. First, one has always to consider the economical situation of the production. It is the basis, because that is what gives you tools. A production that can afford ten lamps is a production that can afford ten lamps. If you say you are interested you will have to do it with ten lamps. It is about the production conditions of things, you have huge economical differences, – for example an American production, a German production, an Italian production, a French production – the way the economy of a production is organised, and you have to take this in account. Most of the theatre opera houses in Italy are ‘Stagione’, which means, the have a production, they build on stage and it stays. And most, if not all, German opera houses are in very strict repertory, every evening another production, every evening another opera. In Amsterdam, you have a little bit of both, it is not very heavy, you don’t have six different operas a week, so it is another production condition. This last statement is the perfect example of the differences between the repertory and stagione system and their effect on the working circumstances. According to Jean Kalman, this difference also makes a style, they force the lighting designer to choose a certain style: JEAN KALMAN: This basis, the production conditions, make that you can do different kinds of work. When you have electricians like in German opera houses who have about thirty minutes every day to refocus for the production in the evening. If you work in Germany you have to accept that, and of course the lighting is not the same. It is a lot about that which is essential. It makes a lot of differences. It does make styles of lighting. For instance, if you have a half our to refocus you tend to work with one big light, if it can solve one scene, for example one big HMI. Then you know it is possible to be done. You do not try to solve the thing with many small lights, so the style of lighting is also, it is not only, but it is also the result of the economical condition of the production. And then it builds up traditions. The economical conditions make that you work in a certain style. But then, because it comes back it makes a tradition in lighting. It makes a style. 47
  • 49. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Like Duane Schuler, Jean Kalman listens to the music before the starts working on an opera. To him listening to the CD before working on stage the music can be quite boring. When it comes on stage it starts to live and becomes much more exciting. And then when he listens a second time, after having it done on stage, then it becomes very exciting. With a new opera, like Wagner Dream, it comes from the composers in conversations and in understanding what the composer wants to tell. For Wagner Dream Jean Kalman designed the set as well. “In a way, strangely”, says Kalman, “it does not make the lighting better.” JEAN KALMAN: When you do the lighting you have a confrontation, a tension with a set, which is I think sometimes really positive. Lighting can bring things to the set that where not expected by the designer, surprisingly. When you do the set yourself you tend to go with the set you have done Asking Kalman about his way of designing light, based on a given set he compares himself with a painter who builds his pallet. In recurring opera productions, he starts all over again. JEAN KALMAN: You might have yellow, red and maybe a little bit of green. I will maybe need, or I will be happy with backlighting here, but this backlighting would need warm and cold. It would be nice to have another kind of backlighting like a row of PAR’s. Designing is very much in relation with the space that is offered. You might think; “The set offers big steps, so a kind of backlight would be interesting”. Imagine the same opera comes with a flat. You don’t think the same. Of course you know the story better, you know the moods better and what the opera needs. For instance you have the stupid idea of doing a very expressionistic direction in La Traviata and you realise that the set and the director are in a very natural set of La Traviata. Then you say “O no, I should not do that again”. Every time you do a different thing. The topic of our conversation goes back to music. Kalman finds it very obvious that in opera the emphasis lays with the music, and not with the text, like in theatre. JEAN KALMAN: “There is something in the music that is not natural, which is completely dream, another world. A movement, but not just physical movement of somebody on stage. You can travel with the music; sometimes just leave the reality of the scene by going with the music. To make a change of light, you don’t need a scene change, you don’t need another scene, you just feel, “O the music is going, lets have the lighting to go with it”. In theatre you can sometimes travel like that, but you have to travel with the word of the actor. So, for example, the actor has an inside monologue, you have a very naturalistic scene, two other actors are discussing and the first actor starts remembering something, thinks about something. The scene leaves the conversation. You can travel with the light and follow that, or you stay in the scene. That is the difference. Of course you travel as much in theatre as in opera, in theatre it just happens more often that you are more into the real scene, which is happening in front of you. In opera you have the music travelling.” However you could compare an actor having a monologue with the solo from an opera singer, Jean Kalman never works the same. Talking about differences and changes we go back to the economical conditions and the differences between the Netherlands and Germany. As stated in a previous interview51 Kalman thinks that De Nederlandse Opera is very open to discuss changes in the way they work. He does not find this quality in other countries because of the different economical conditions. JEAN KALMAN: “In Germany they are stuck into the repertory system, which is very heavy. That is the economical condition of the opera house. I do not want to work in opera houses in Germany anymore; I am not interested. It can be exceptional, if a friend really asks me whether I could come, but I rather avoid Germany. I just don’t like this system. I don’t like the system where the electrician does not have the time to work, where there is no time the do the lighting properly. It has nothing to do with Germany on itself; I love to work on German festivals. A festival is really great, the people are lovely and the technicians are great. But then you are in the situation where you build a production, you do something and it is there, they have the time, they can work. It is the economical conditions that are made to the people.” 51 Odeon 34, august 1999, page 16 48
  • 50. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Like many others Kalman rewards the Rock and Roll industry for the technical development of the theatre industry. In the future he expects much from LED light, but he is not an initiator of new technologies himself. When we talk about the future I ask Kalman about the perfect origin of a new lighting designer. Because many designers come from the technical world they lack a certain cultural knowledge, so they have difficulties in speaking with directors, says Kalman. JEAN KALMAN: “If you want to become a lighting designer, go to a museum, try to learn about what you see, look at things without understanding what it is. The richer your life, the richer your culture, the richer your inspiration.” 5.4.3. Interview notes In almost every statement, Jean Kalman emphasises the importance of the economical conditions for the difference in different working situations. The interview with Jean Kalman took place during a lunch, with other people on the same table, and was therefore a bit turbulent. Nevertheless Jean Kalman used some very strong statements, which are very helpful for the conclusion of this dissertation. From the lighters that work with Jean Kalman one can often hear how different he is from designers like John B. Read. Jean does not come with drawings, fixtures lists and clearly prepared structural ideas. Jean Kalman is someone that enters the stages and stars designing on the spot. His assistant takes care of the drawings and other paperwork. Time Jean Kalman likes to take the time for designing on stage. He is not a fan of the strict repertory systems and very much appreciates the lighting session. Lighting sessions are for Jean the time to really design. Of course he has a idea on how to do it, but he is completely different from John B. Read. Opera, the long planning Jean is maybe one of the best examples of the small world of opera lighting designers. His agenda is full for at least the next three years, lighting opera in Europe’s largest opera houses and theatre companies. From the beginning of his career Jean Kalman lit opera and was therefore unable to go back to short planning and experimental theatre productions or dance or ballet. Considering the quotation of Jean Kalman on page 1 of this dissertation he does not regret this. 49
  • 51. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Conclusion From the initial literary research and the token interviews generative concepts where collected to define a clear distinction or similarity in these sources. One of the interesting discoveries made in the literary research was that much of this literature is based on the working experience of people in the field of study, and written from the point of view of someone working in the field. There are many ‘handbooks’ on the subject of lighting with chapters about ‘opera lighting’, ‘dance lighting’ and ‘theatre lighting’. Next to these handbooks there are a few interviews with lighting designers in opera and/or theatre magazines. Since the literary resources almost only come from the field of study itself it is a logical conclusion that the world of lighting design is a closed world where a few people set the tendency. One interesting fact is that most of the interviews in opera, theatre and or theatre technology are with the same lighting designers. In magazine Odeon, from De Nederlandse Opera, almost all interviews with lighting designers are with Jean Kalman. The impression that the world of international lighting design is a relatively small world with a certain elite character seems to be correct. Another discovery is that in the consulted literature many similarities have been found in the chapters about opera, dance and theatre lighting. The outlined issues like the role of music, the scale of opera set designs and the positions of the singers and choirs where found in all literary sources. Most of these qualities of opera lighting design are indeed true and confirmed by the interviewed lighting designers. When designing for opera, the music does actually make a difference, as well as the scale of the stage, the position of the soloist, etcetera. All four interviewed lighting designers do take these differences into account when designing for opera. The internationality of the field of study is proven by viewing the archives and credits of opera companies, as shown in 1.01. Subject resources, and in the archives of many opera houses. During the interviews it was very clear that every one of the four interviewed designers has a personal style in his working method and designing process. Because the interviewed lighting designers cannot represent their country of origin it is not really possible to link their style or character to their nationality although they all showed characteristics for their nationality. It was interesting to see that someone from the United States of America speaks about opera in another way than the interviewed European designers. On the one hand there was Duane Schuler with an origin in the land of opportunities, with many stories and anecdotes about money and time pressure, while on the other hand Jean Kalman outlined the economical conditions of a production. From the United Kingdom came John B. Read, a precise and accurate preparer, while the Dutch soberness showed itself in the conversation with Reinier Tweebeeke. While these differences were rather clear it is of course not really possible to use this as a description of the national style. When combining the results of the literary research and the interviews there are many similarities. As the literary sources bring the subject of this dissertation in a wide perspective of theatrical performances and designs, the interviewed designers have a wide collection of specific statements about the, for this dissertation important, parts of the working circumstances of lighting designers. From the collection of experiences and anecdotes we can form a rather clear overview of the main results of the research for this dissertation. Much of the arguments for this conclusion are stated in Chapter 4. Opera lighting design and Chapter 5. Analyses of the interviews, in the many quotations. Nevertheless there are specific things we can clearly pick out to conclude this dissertation research. One important thing to be said in advance, which is actually a logical point of view, is that every theatrical production is already different from another production. Most of the 50
  • 52. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? lighting designers are clear in this and state that the working circumstances are never the same; every production is different. When an opera production is brought to the stage for a second or a third time, but with a different design, the working circumstances and designing process are totally new. The difference in the production circumstances of a new production and its designing process has to do with the changing artistic team. Even when the same group of designers works with the same director in a new production, the process starts totally blank. This is proven by the interviews with the lighting designers and their opinion on the working method. However, this can be criticised because a lighting designer will of course never say that he or she works the same as before in a second or next production. The following statements in this conclusion will therefore be focusing on similarities. When a particular production is reproduced with the same design the lighting will often be taken over by an assistant and/or a lighter or head of the lighting department. Concerning the overall working circumstances we can conclude that much of the actual work on stage depends on the economical conditions of the production. The biggest differences in working circumstances are found in the differences between the repertory and stagione system or subsidised or commercial productions. While much of the consulted literature outlines this fact as to be taken into account, the interviewed lighting designers underline this fact to be the most important cause of good or bad working circumstances on stage. As an answer to the core inquiries as stated in 1.1. The thesis, we can conclude the following:  The distinction between certain performance genres for the working method of a lighting designer can be found in the composition of the artistic elements music, text and movement. There is a difference between music or text or movement as origin for a visual design. (See chapter 4.3. The role of music in the designing process). The origin of inspiration determines the working method of the lighting designer in every genre.  Although there is a difference between designing for opera and theatre/dance we cannot make a handbook for correct opera lighting. Every production is a different production and needs new artistic visions. However, the role of music in opera will remain the biggest difference in the designing process.  The lighting designers for opera in the field of study are mainly middle-aged man from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Western Europe and Australia. They very often have a cultural background, and started in theatre in their early twenties. They have studied arts or similar studies and became lighting designer by assisting other lighting designers or helping on stage as an electrician or stagehand. The small group of opera lighting designers that only light opera will always show up in the credits because they particularly choose to stay in longer planning of opera.  The cultural background of a lighting designer does have a profound influence on the working method of the lighting designer, since, according to the interviewed lighting designers, it helps them to communicate on an artistic level with the director or choreographer. All four interviewed lighting designers, and probably all other considerable professional opera lighting designers do have and require a comprehensive cultural background. 51
  • 53. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers?  There is no fundamental cultural distinction traceable in the work of for example a German lighting designer compared to a French lighting designer after performing research for this dissertation. Nevertheless their could be a difference in style, but the examined sources in this dissertation can not provide information on this issue. The differences between the four interviewed lighting designers can be used as an example of possible differences in style but are not representative. More about his in the Investigation recommendation  Perhaps the most important conclusion of this dissertation is the international difference in working situations between national opera structures like the repertory and stagione system. For a opera lighting designer, it is really different to work in Germany, and it is really different to work in the United States. Less time on stage must affect the quality of the design, in whatever form. Professional lighting designers require the skills to adapt their working method to the national restrictions and convention and produce their artistic vision under those circumstances.  The lighting designer for opera is not fundamentally different from the lighting designer of dance or theatre. Lighting designers for opera stay in opera because of their taste, but also because of the long planning in advance, and their sustainable fellowship with other designers and directors within opera.  Working within the foreign ‘boundaries’ international opera lighting designers need another skill: the skill to adapt to foreign conventions and nevertheless produce their own creative vision, based on their own cultural identity  There are barely any Dutch designers working in De Nederlandse Opera, because in Holland we do not have directors and designers on the same scale as the ‘internationals’. They are not (yet?) available. For the working circumstances in different countries we can conclude that the economical condition of a production has a giant influence on the programming, working time and time pressure in staging a production. This makes that certain lighting designers avoid certain countries; although the internationality of the artists is cross-border and therewith independent from those economical conditions. Lighting designers for opera work in a small but global society, with a relatively small range of opera’s and artists but with huge ambitions. 52
  • 54. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Investigation recommendation After performing research for this dissertation a few investigation recommendations can be given in order to perform more profound research on the subject. Since the field of study is very international one actually requires free travelling and access to all opera houses and lighting designers. It would be perfect for the research to, for example, join the opera house in New York, London, Milan, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, Vienna and Bayreuth for a few months to experience the actual working situation. To get a full impression of the differences between freelance international lighting designers it would be very good to investigate the experience of resident lighting chiefs and heads of lighting department in large opera venues. To give a representative impression of the differences between the several opera venues it would be very interesting to join multiple lighting designers in their travel around the world. Jean Kalman had a clear idea to perform further research in the style of lighting designer by visiting all opera productions in Amsterdam. JEAN KALMAN: It would be interesting to see much opera in Amsterdam If you would look at different opera productions with designers and directors coming to Amsterdam from different countries, you can maybe find differences or that there is something which is common to German or French directors. To investigate the difference between opera lighting design and theatre or dance lighting design it could be interesting to make a statistic overview of the amount of spots and light cues used in opera and theatre or dance. This will not be a very representative research, because one generalises artistic input: A large opera can be designed with three lighting spots and a single cue. One can also try to outline differences in use of particular lighting spots and therewith maybe make a distinction in style. A closer research on the exact amount of lighting designers working in international opera would help the research in a more statistic and accurate approach of the research area. Having more information about how many actual opera lighting designer there actually are, where they work and how much to do within other genres would help the representatives of the outcome of the research. As this dissertation was not focused on the particular style of lighting designers on could perform research on the differences in style. To do this, it would be very good to follow particular lighting designers and document their designs and style. 53
  • 55. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Addendum This addendum as an addition on the conclusion of this dissertation and tries to name the absent information of the research in order to put the given conclusion in a correct context, looking back on the representativeness of the research. It also includes a personal ‘looking back’ of the author, about the writing of this dissertation. Having performed research on opera lighting I think I have made a step in the direction of a clearer view on the internationality of the list of credits in the archive of the Amsterdam Opera house. From the point of few of Dutch citizens, including me, De Nederlandse Opera is a very rich, large and professional organisation, with huge budgets and very high funding. Compared to the world of national theatre the opera house in Amsterdam could be considered as out of scale or almost foreign. The opera house in Amsterdam is like the airport Schiphol; it connects the international world of opera, a high class and maybe ‘elite’ theatrical form, with the Dutch theatrical environment, although the artists are from abroad. For this research I did not want to focus on the work and style of the lighting designers, and a view on their actual work is not included in this dissertation. It was not a part of the research, as interesting as it its. 54
  • 56. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Summary In this summery of the research process a personal view will be given to look back on the examining of literary sources and the interviews. The summary will have a more personal character and will also include the difficulties of the research and personal views of the author. Summarising the research process we can conclude a few things. When starting the research I was not expecting so much difference on the level of economy and finances. In the working circumstances I encountered differences on an artistic level, as perfectly described in much of the literary sources, but most of the differences as stated by the interviewed lighting designers had to do with the structure of opera in different. Saying something about international opera designers feels strange, because I have not seen so much opera yet. The only opera I saw was in Amsterdam, which I regret. It would have been much better if I had also visited German opera houses, Italian opera houses, the United States, etcetera. Just to observe and document. Unfortunately this was financially not possible. The research for this dissertation would in that case also grow to large, as interesting as it must have been. Writing a dissertation is not an easy thing, although with this subject I had enough motivation to keep on writing. What the author of a dissertation on this graduating level probably always encounters is the doubting during the process. Did I form a correct thesis, and is the formulation of my question in the correct direction? There where a few moments when the collected information seemed to be inappropriate and unsuitable for a satisfying conclusion. In those moments the assistance of my supervisor was very helpful. In the end I actually am very satisfied, as it actually was possible to write a comprehensive conclusion on the subject and thesis and to actually emphasise distinctions, differences and similarities. The world of opera lighting is a global world, from which everyone can get a glimpse in every opera house in the world, thanks to the international collaboration of international directors, singers and designers. 55
  • 57. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Enumerative Bibliography Literature  Baumann, Karl-Friedrich, Licht im Theater, von der Argand-Lampe bis zum Glühlampen-Scheinwerfer. Stuttgart, Steiner, 1988  Bergman, Gösta M, Lighting in the theatre, Stockholm, Almqvist, 1977  Bianconi, Lorenzo; Pestelli, Giorgio, Opera on Stage, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 2002  Brockett, Oscar G, History of the theatre, Boston, Allyn and Bacon, 1991  Brook, Stephen, Opera, a Penguin Anthology, Penguin Books, London, 1995  Chambers, Colin, The continuum companion to twentieth century theatre, Continuum, London, 2002  Cole, Harry, ‘Ik gebruik alleen effecten als ze oké zijn voor de voorstelling’ - Interview, Magazine Etcetera, Brussels, October 2001  Dizikes, John, Opera in America – A cultural history, Yale University, Yale, 1993  Dorsey, Julie O’B.; Sillion, François X.; Greenberg, Donald P, Design and Simulation of Opera Lighting and Projection Effects, Magazin Computer Graphics, July 1991  Duffie, Bruce, Conversation Piece: Lighting Designer Duane Schuler, 1998  Embrechts, Annette, Aan/uit, Magazine Theatermaker, Amsterdam, April 1999  Fairman, Richard, Opera: one size fits all, Newspaper Financial Times, United Kingdom, July 4, 2003  Ghesquière, Robrecht, ‘Ik hang eerst heel veel licht en breek dat beetje bij beetje weer af’- Interview, Magazine Etcetera, Brussels, October 2001  Huxley, Michael; Witts, Noel, The Twentieth-Century Performance reader – 2nd edition, Routledge, New York, 1996  Kalman, Jean, ‘Ik heb filosofie gestudeerd, dat helpt bij mijn werk als lichtontwerper’- Interview, Magazine Etcetera, Brussels, October 2001  Kalman, Jean, Interview, Dissertation research, Luxembourg, April 2007  Keller, Max, Bühnenbeleuchtung, Keulen, DuMont, 1985  Kongshaug, Jesper, Respect voor de ogen van de toeschouwer - Interview, Magazine Etcetera, Brussels, October 2001  Kuyper, Eric de, De zon komt op. Het is een prachtige lenteochtend. - Interview, Magazine Etcetera, Brussels, October 2001  Lamers, Jan Joris, ‘Wat je ook bedenkt, het is gepruts in vergelijking met daglicht’ - Interview, Magazine Etcetera, Brussels, October 2001  Morgan, Gwyn, Their Name in Lights, Magazine Plays & Players, London, November 1989  Perceval, Luk; Denesse, Mark van, ‘Voor het lichtontwerp vertrek je van een inhoudelijk gegeven’ - Interview, Magazine Etcetera, Brussels, October 2001  Pilbrow, Richard, Stage lighting, foreword by Laurence Olivier, Revised edition, with contributions by William Bundy and John B. Read, New York, Drama Book Specialists, 1979  Radice, Mark A, Opera in context: essays on historical staging from the late Renaissance to the time of Puccini, Portland, Amadeus, 1998  Read, John B., Interview, Dissertation research, Amsterdam, February 2007  Reid, Francis, The stage lighting handbook - fifth edition, London, A&C Black, 1996  Robinson, Paul, Solti, The Art of the Conductor, London, Macdonald and Jane’s Publishers Ltd., 1979  Rossi, Nick, Opera in Italy today, Amadeus Press, Portland, Oregon, 1995 56
  • 58. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers?  Rubin, Joel E, Theatrical lighting practice. New York, Theatre Arts Books, 1968  Runciman, Rosy, Light Switch, Magazine Opera Now, London, September/October 2005  Schuler, Duane, Interview, Dissertation research, Amsterdam, January 2007  Straatman, Franz, Moet de Puccini-fan vrezen voor Robert Wilson?, Magazine Odeon, Amsterdam, August/September/October/November 2002  Straatman, Franz, Schilderen met licht, Magazine Odeon, Amsterdam, February/March/April 2007  Straatman, Franz, TL-buizen in de ‘glazen snelweg’, Magazine Odeon, Amsterdam, December 2004/January/Febraury 2005  Tweebeeke, Reinier, Interview, Dissertation research, Amsterdam, March 2007  Uum, Hugo van, Handboek theaterbelichting: tussen licht en donker, Amsterdam, International Theatre & Film Books, 1992  Tooley, John, In House – Covent Garden – 50 years of opera and ballet, Faber and Faber Limited, London, 1999  Verstraete, Drs. Pieter M.G., De visie van Wagner - les muziektheater hand-out, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 2006  Versweyveld, Jan, ‘Ik ben twintig jaar met licht bezig en ik ga nog steeds op mijn bek’ - Interview, Magazine Etcetera, Brussels, October 2001  Walgrave, Thomas, ’Accidenten zijn kansen’ - Interview, Magazine Etcetera, Brussels, October 2001  Wees, Willeke van, Zichtbaar licht: het ontwikkelen van een analysemodel voor lichtgebruik in theatervoorstellingen, Doctoraalscriptie Theater-, Film- en Televisiewetenschappen. Utrecht, Universiteit Utrecht, 1999  Williams, Bill, Stage Lighting Design, Educational Website, Edition 2.d, © 1997 – 1999 Websites  Opera Base, www.operabase.com  De Nederlandse Opera, www.dno.nl  Opera Magazine, www.opera.co.uk  Vlaams Theater Instituut, www.vti.be  Theater Instituut Nederland, www.tin.nl  The society of British theatre designers, www.theatredesign.co.uk  De Vlaamse Opera, www.vlaamseopera.com  Robert Wilson, www.robertwilson.com  Opera Europe, www.opera-europe.org  Deutscher Bühnenverein, www.buehnenverein.de  Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org 57
  • 59. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Endnotes I Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (January 27, 1756 – December 5, 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. His output of over 600 compositions includes works widely acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music. Mozart is among the most enduringly popular of European composers and many of his works are part of the standard concert repertoire. He is generally considered to be one of the greatest composers of classical music. II Lorenzo Da Ponte, born Emanuele Conegliano (March 10, 1749 – August 17, 1838) was an Italian librettist and poet born in Ceneda (now Vittorio Veneto). He is most famous for having written the librettos to three Mozart operas, Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte. Many of his works belonged to the Opera buffa genre. III Gioachino Antonio Rossini (February 29, 1792 – November 13, 1868) was an Italian composer who wrote 39 operas as well as sacred music and chamber music. His best known works include Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) and Guillaume Tell (William Tell). IV Claudio Monteverdi (May 15, 1567 (baptised) – November 29, 1643) was an Italian composer, viol player, and singer. His work marks the transition from Renaissance to Baroque music. During his long life he produced works that can be classified in both genres, and he can be seen as a musical revolutionary. Monteverdi wrote the earliest opera which is still regularly staged, L'Orfeo. V Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi (either October 9 or 10, 1813 – January 27, 1901) was an Italian Romantic composer, mainly of opera. He was one of the most influential composers of Italian opera in the 19th century and went well beyond the work of Bellini, Donizetti, and Rossini. His works are frequently performed in opera houses throughout the world and, transcending the boundaries of the genre, some of his themes have long since taken root in popular culture - such as "La donna è mobile" from Rigoletto and "Libiamo ne' lieti calici" from La traviata. VI Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini (December 22, 1858 – November 29, 1924) was an Italian composer whose operas, including La bohème, Tosca, and Madama Butterfly, are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire.[1][2] Some of his melodies, such as "O mio babbino caro" from Gianni Schicchi and "Nessun dorma" from Turandot, have become part of modern culture. One of the few operatic composers to successfully use both German and Italian techniques of opera, Puccini is regarded as the successor to Giuseppe Verdi. VII Wilhelm Richard Wagner (May 22, 1813 – February 13, 1883) was a German composer, conductor, music theorist, and essayist, primarily known for his operas (or "music dramas" as he later came to call them). Unlike most other great opera composers, Wagner always wrote the scenario and libretto for his works himself. He is being thought of as one of the significant forerunners of modernism. VIII Tannhäuser or Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf der Wartburg (Tannhäuser and the Singers' Contest on the Wartburg) is an opera in three acts, music and text by Richard Wagner, based on the two Germanic legends of Tannhäuser and the song contest at Wartburg. Key themes are the struggle between sacred and profane love, and redemption through love (a theme running through almost all Wagner's mature work). Wagner conducted the premier in Dresden in 1845, with his niece Johanna Wagner singing the part of Elisabeth. The revised "Paris version" of the opera is the more frequently performed today. IX Adolphe Appia (September 1, 1862 in Geneva - February 29, 1928 in Nyon) was a Swiss architect and theorist of stage lighting and décor. Adolphe Appia was a Swiss theorist and pioneer of modern stage design. X Franco Zeffirelli (born Gianfranco Corsi on February 12, 1923), is an Italian film director. Zeffirelli has also been a major director of opera productions since the 1950s in Italy, Europe, and the U.S.. 58
  • 60. Opera Lighting – The ‘elite’ designers? Of particular note is his 1964 Royal Opera House production of Tosca with Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi, and several productions for the Metropolitan Opera in New York, including La bohème and Turandot. Also of note is his set design for Madama Butterfly in the fall of 1985 for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. XI Luchino Visconti (1906 - 1976) was an Italian theatre and cinema director and writer, best known for films such as The Leopard (1963). He died in Rome of a stroke at the age of 69. There is a museum dedicated to the director's work in Ischia. XII Nabucco (short for Nabucodonosor, English Nebuchadnezzar)[1] is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Temistocle Solera, based on the biblical story and the play by Anicet-Bourgeois and Francis Cornu. Its first performance took place on March 9, 1842 at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan. The best-known number from this opera is Hebrews' Chorus, Va, pensiero, sull'ali dorate ("Fly, thought, on golden wings"). XIII Gilbert V. Hemsley (1936 -1983) was a noted United States lighting designer and teacher of lighting design. Hemsley studied history at Yale, earned an MFA at Yale Drama School in 1960, and worked as assistant to lighting designer Jean Rosenthal. He was production manager for the inaugurations of U.S. Presidents Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter, but he is best known for his work as a lighting designer on Broadway, at numerous regional theatres, and as the lighting director at the New York City Opera. Hemsley taught lighting design at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was celebrated there for his generosity with students, many of whom served as assistants at New York City Opera and elsewhere. XIV The Guthrie Theatre is a professional theatre company in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was the result of Sir Tyrone Guthrie's desire for a new kind of theatre that would provide an atmosphere, which would encourage the production of great works of literature and cultivate actors' talents away from the more commercial environment of Broadway where increasing production costs demanded profitability over artistic content. XV Tan Dun (pinyin: Tán Dùn, 譚盾, 谭盾; born August 18, 1957) is a Chinese contemporary classical composer, most widely known for his Grammy and Oscar-award winning scores for the movies Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero. His operas are globally honoured: Marco Polo, was first shown at the Münchener Biennale, in Munich, on May 7, 1996, as well as winning the 1998 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. Peony Pavilion, premiered at the Wiener Festwochen, in Vienna, on May 12, 1998. Tea: A Mirror of Soul, with a libretto by Tan and Xu Ying, was commissioned by Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Japan and was given its world premiere performance there on October 22, 2002. The opera premiered in the United States on July 21, 2007 at the Santa Fe Opera in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The First Emperor, received its world premiere performance on December 21, 2006 in New York City at the Metropolitan Opera, which had commissioned the work, with the composer conducting. The libretto, by Tan and Ha Jin, is based on the life of the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, who unified the country and built an early version of the Great Wall. The production is by film director Zhang Yimou. Plácido Domingo sang the title role, with Elizabeth Futral as the emperor's daughter and Paul Groves as the musician Gao Jianli. 59

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