Robe triumphs at the opera in Athens
Friday, 4 June 2021
robe-juditha-triumphans06-pThe performance was directed by Thanos Papakonstantinou with music delivered by the Armonia Atenea Orchestra (photo: George Katsaros)
Greece - Lighting designer Christina Thanasoula brought her visual style to a recent Greek National Opera production of Juditha Triumphans with the help of some Robe LEDBeam 150s.
The performance was directed by Thanos Papakonstantinou with music delivered by the Armonia Atenea Orchestra, musical ensemble Il Pomo d’Oro, the GNO Chorus and members of the GNO Children's Choir and conducted by Markellos Chryssicos and recorded for broadcast on the Mezzo TV channel.
The Vivaldi oratorio - the only surviving one of four he is known to have composed – was staged at the Greek National Opera’s Stavros Niarchos Hall in Athens to mark the 2021 bicentennial of the Greek Revolution.
Christina is co-founder of Athens-based lighting design company Creative Lighting, and her inspiration for lighting this production was the early Baroque painting Juditha slaying Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi, characterised by intense light, deep shadows and rich colours with a very refined application of the ‘chiaroscuro’ method of high contrast light and dark.
Christina’s approach utilised light as a powerful narrative tool, effectively replicating the aesthetic of the painting onstage, together with a fourth dimension - time.

Director Papakonstantinou wanted to stage a ‘play-within-a-play’ scenario with two simultaneous and contrasting realities running along the timeline. Drawing inspiration from the actual first staging of the opera that took place in the Ospedale della Pietta convent and orphanage for girls in Venice, where Vivaldi was working as a violin teacher and musical director, Papakonstantinou and assistant director Constantina Psoma recreated the world of the orphanage whose female inhabitants, impressed with the painting, are about to ‘stage’ the world of Juditha.
The main lighting concept was therefore based on this sense of contrast, with the stark fluorescent tube lit world of the institution creating a cold and shadowless ambience juxtaposed with the warm directional lighting of the small theatre (play-within-a-play) depicting the drama and details from Gentileschi’s painting.
As Christina explains: “We tried to recreate and imagine the story and the timeline pictures she had in her mind immediately before she created this incredible painting.”
To achieve the desired effect, the quest was to find small ‘Baroque-friendly’ lighting fixtures that had very specific qualities of light that would evoke a feeling of the past.
“Ideally, we would have used candles for a perfect effect,” adds Christina, adding that this was not a safe or practical option, but fortunately the GNO has a vast array of vintage luminaires so she trawled through these and picked out some original Strand Patt23 profiles and Patt123 fresnels that could accurately reproduce the warm shades of the painting as she envisioned.
The retro shapes of the units also looked perfect on the lavish Baroque set designed by Niki Psychogiou, and they were also ideally scaled for the 4m-wide stage-within-a-stage.
However, with so much action taking place in this specific area onstage, Christina also needed the added flexibility of some moving lights. And so entered the Robe LEDBeam 150s.
The movers had to meet the same criteria as the classic Patts - small, low profile and quiet running with a great CRI and zoom, and “all these requirements led me to choose the LEDBeam 150,” says Christina.
“Quietness was a key,” commented Christina, due to the proximity of the fixtures to some of the cast on the small stage, and she also considered the look of the fixtures themselves as they were central and visible for the whole show, so needed to blend in seamlessly with other set and scenic pieces.
“The LEDBeam 150s were a vital asset to the show and in being able to create camera-orientated solutions quickly on-the-fly,” she concludes.
Working alongside Christina were assistant lighting designer Marietta Pavlaki; lighting programmers Tasos Nixilian, Dimitris Koutas and Alexandros Koutroulakis; follow spot operators Dimitris Rizos and Alexandros Papadatos, plus Vagelis Mountrihas, the GNO’s lighting coordinator and their head of lighting Lefteris Banos.

Latest Issue. . .

Tweets from our Friends