Brilliant Art on Stage at the Opera

Giant lettering made from ACRYLITE® Resist multi-skin was created for the stage design for Giacomo Puccini’s opera, “Tosca” in the Halle Opera House.

The stage design for an opera or a play is much more than just scenery – it is a vital part of the production. Stage designers need to constantly come up with new and creative stage spaces for this reason. They provide the audience with a contemporary perspective on a piece, as is the case with the production of the world-famous opera “Tosca” in the opera house in Halle, Germany.

A new setting

“Normally, Giacomo Puccini’s ‘Tosca’ is a stringently written detective story which takes place at the beginning of the 19th century in Rome,” explains Stage Designer Wolf Gutjahr. “In Halle, we wanted to put the spotlight on the inner states of the people above all else.”

The original settings, which include the interior of a church, a police station, and the Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome, were not suited for this purpose. “The main figures are artists who have become caught up in the political system. So, the stage design is intended to display the conflict between politics and art and how we deal with it,” explains Gutjahr. “I thought to myself: Let’s call a spade a spade.” And thus, the idea of the giant lettering “ART” was born.

Evenly illuminated

“The letters are supposed to appear like large, illuminated writing,” explains Torsten Paetzold, Production Manager in the workshops at the Halle opera house. At the same time, the writing also had to be strong enough to support the weight of singers walking across it, but light enough for it to be suspended on wire ropes from the ceiling. Another demand placed upon the letters was that they had to provide even illumination. “We wanted the perfect combination of visual appeal and robustness, which is why we decided to use ACRYLITE® Resist multi-skin acrylic,” says Paetzold.

Larger than life

With a height of 20 feet and a total length of 40 feet, the letters made from ACRYLITE® Resist multi-skin acrylic looks massive behind the actors.

© Theater, Oper und Orchester GmbH Halle / Photographer: Falk Wenzel

Massive and illuminated

Size is not the only reason the writing draws attention - the illumination also catches the eye too. Thanks to distribution properties of ACRYLITE® Resist multi-skin, the light sources are invisible and the light they produce is even across the whole surface.

© Theater, Oper und Orchester GmbH Halle / Photographer: Falk Wenzel

The team from the workshop first cut the 32-mm-thick sheets to size and then glued the individual pieces of the acrylic together to form the 20 foot-high and 40 foot-long writing. An aluminum frame further strengthens the letters and forms a clean edge. LED strip lights are used for illumination. “The light sources are hidden behind the milky-transparent sheet,” says Paetzold. “It also distributes the light evenly across the whole surface.”

Different lighting moods - Bright & Intense

The LEDs hidden behind the acrylic letters allows the intensity of the illumination to be adjusted during the performance.

© Theater, Oper und Orchester GmbH Halle / Photographer: Falk Wenzel

Different lighting moods - Darkened

The LEDS can also be dimmed to change the mood of the set.

© Theater, Oper und Orchester GmbH Halle / Photographer: Falk Wenzel

Vertical, horizontal, suspended art

“At the start of the opera, the giant illuminated letters stand tall on the stage, illuminating the center of the stage,” explains Gutjahr. “The props and the actors are placed into relation with this.” Over the course of the opera, the static letters are then adjusted to suit the action on stage. “The giant ART lettering is an ideal tool to show how our society deals with art during the performance,” says Gutjahr.

Sneak peek behind the ART

The giant letters are attached to a framework and wire cables.

© Wolf Gutjahr

Sneak peek behind the ART continued...

The framework and wire cables allow the letters to lie flat on the stage.

© Wolf Gutjahr

Sneak peek behind the ART continued...

... and to be suspended during the performance.

© Wolf Gutjahr

Illuminated letters as a stylistic device

Art is instrumentalized for political proceedings during the Tosca opera as the standing illuminated letters are laid down during the second act. In the third act, actors are then left to their own devices – the writing is hoisted out of sight and onto the drawing floor using wire cables. Due to its outstanding durability, ACRYLITE® Resist multi-skin acrylic can withstand this repeated movement show after show.

“This was another reason why we chose ACRYLITE®, as the whole construction could not be too heavy,” Paetzold explains. “Removing the letters represents the idea that art is unattainable,” says Gutjahr. In the last scene of the production, the main character, Tosca, remains on stage alone – a touching final picture of a production which has drawn praise from audiences and critics alike.

Have questions regarding ACRYLITE® Resist multi-skin acrylic?
Please contact:

Rob Hoy
Regional Manager
Building & Construction Markets

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