Martin LC panels visit Copenhagen Opera

Monday, 18 May 2009
Martin LC panels visit Copenhagen Opera
Denmark - Specified by lighting designer Per Sundin, some 64sq.m of Martin Professional LC Series LED panels are being used as dynamic, movable set columns for The Visit of the Royal Physician (Livlægens Bes°g) at the Copenhagen Opera House, one of the most modern opera houses in the world.

Employed as an important element of the opera's overall scenography, the LED panels are divided into four vertical segments which can glide separately or be combined as part of a large scenic wall.

"We combined an 18th Century look with a very modern tool," Sundin stated about the modular LED panels. "We got both the historical theatre look and the latest modern look together and it works very well."

Swede P.O. Enquist's compelling book about one of the most dramatic episodes in Danish history - a love triangle involving King Christian VII - was adapted to the stage as a grand-scale opera. Created by Bo Holten, The Visit of the Royal Physician premiered on 28 March.

The set design includes a total of 16 vertical set pieces, each two metres wide by eight metres tall and all positioned on tracks so they can be moved across the stage. Apart from the four set pieces with the LC panels, the other 12 columns are painted.

When Sundin came on board the project, projection onto the columns was a consideration, but he quickly realised that projecting light would be problematic as the columns are continually moving. In fact, there are 65-70 different column configurations used throughout the opera.

Originally, the set designer and director staged the piece in a classical 18th Century theatre in Sweden in which set pieces emerged out of the stage floor, allowing set looks to continually change. "Everything is built up on that," Sundin states. "The screens are always moving and they change every scene."

Sundin uses the LC panels as LED panel projectors to project onto a black back-projection screen, in front of which is a painted scrim. "The two materials diffuse the pixels for a slightly frosted look," the Swedish LD says, "but not so much that you cannot read text. It works very well."

One request from the director was for all 16 columns to look the same when the LED isn't on. "When you light the screen from the front you can't see that there is anything behind it, and when the front eight columns are closed together you cannot see which pieces have the LED and which do not," Sundin says.

Of the eight columns closest to the audience, four are equipped with LC panels and four without.

(Jim Evans)

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