Voltaire - an intimate alternative on The Strip
USA - When the Sphere opened last fall to resounding acclaim at the Venetian Resort Las Vegas, another eye-opening yet distinctly intimate entertainment venue made its debut at the same resort, Voltaire. Presented as an entirely new kind of entertainment space, Voltaire features architectural and theatrical lighting by renowned design studio Lightswitch, with Elation luminaires playing an essential role in crafting its atmosphere.
“I think it’s interesting to compare and contrast those two modalities, two totally different experiences and two ways of thinking about entertainment,” Lightswitch principal John Featherstone says of Sphere and Voltaire. “Both venues offer experiences pushed to the extremes, one a massive edifice of technology that immerses you in a grand experience, and the other a beautiful, small, intimate space that offers a remarkably personal experience.” There is a need for both, he emphasises, so that people can curate the kind of experience they want.
Lightswitch were brought to the project by award-winning environmental and scenic designer Derek McLane, a frequent Lightswitch collaborator. Lightswitch curated a one-of-a-kind aesthetic for Voltaire, drawing upon their expertise in architectural lighting design, theatrical system design, and entertainment creation. Norm Schwab, principal at Lightswitch’s San Francisco office, collaborated with Featherstone on the cross-disciplinary project.
Voltaire is fashionably chic. Guests are enveloped in an opulent, art-deco-inspired ambiance, complete with plush furnishings and reflective surfaces, creating an irresistibly cozy environment. A runway with satellite stage and wrap-around audience add to the immersive design that, according to Featherstone, is about “being in something rather than watching something”.
Emphasising flexibility and variety, entertainment impresario and Voltaire creator Michael Gruber envisioned a repertory-style venue accommodating diverse artists and performances. Conceived as an immersive environmental experience, Voltaire hosts a dynamic range of performances, offering a pre-party, show, and after-party all within the same space.
Lightswitch acted as a one-stop-shop for lighting creative, providing architectural lighting design for the core space, as well as a theatrical lighting system for headline acts and Voltaire’s Belle de Nuit house show, a captivating cabaret-type performance of dance, couture and acrobatics.
Lightswitch designed a rig that features the versatile Elation Fuze Max Profile LED moving head as the cornerstone fixture, seamlessly transitioning between theatrical productions like Belle de Nuit and concert-style performances.
“It ticks the boxes for a fixture that works very well with the theatrical modality and a show like Belle de Nuit,” says Featherstone, “but also has the capabilities to be a workhorse fixture for the more rock-concert-like artists.” Additionally, Elation Chorus Line batten fixtures were embedded within Derek McLane’s striking proscenium design, selected for their high output and automated capabilities. 4Wall served as lighting vendor and integrator on the project.
In contrast to traditional concert shows, the intimate venue allows artists to invite guests into a dynamic and immersive piece of art. Kylie Minogue was the first headliner to grace the stage at Voltaire with Christina Aguilera performing regularly with headline dates continuing through March. Lightswitch collaborated with the Kylie and Christina teams, led by Rob Sinclair and Bryan Klunder respectively, to ensure they had everything they needed to execute their visions.

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