For anyone who hasn’t seen a performance of Das Rheingold yet, Peter Mumford’s design uses a giant projection screen hung over the rear of the orchestra. The screen is a triptych meaning it has three panels, in our case three side-by-side squares of approximately 4½ x 4½ metres each. The screens and their frame had to be custom made. As Leeds Town Hall has quite a restricted weight limit on what can be flown from its roof beams. The frame was constructed from aluminium instead of the much less expensive but far heavier steel.
Very early in the design process it was decided that we would tour a flying aluminium truss from which the screen, lights and projectors would be hung. This guarantees that the set-up is standardised from venue to venue and speeds the installation and removal time. Once built and loaded with the equipment the truss is hauled up to the ceiling all in one go by electric motors.
The challenge for the forthcoming performance in September at The Lowry is the “acoustic shell” (borrowed from Welsh National Opera) which will encase the stage. Surrounding the musicians and singers with tall and shiny wooden flats allows the audience to hear a louder, crisper, more vibrant sound which is closer to that of a concert hall than a theatre. The triptych will be at the back of the stage and sightlines from the “gods” prevent us from rigging our trusty truss in the auditorium. From a technical point of view The Ring Cycle has been arranged to be toured as a “one-night- stand”, although actually most venues have offered us some time either the day before the show to set-up or the day after to pack-up. Birmingham Symphony Hall was unable to allow us any extra time so we arrived at 8am in the morning unloaded, set-up, rehearsed, performed, packed-up and finished re-loading the vehicles at 2am the next morning. Phew!
Tim Anger, Production Manager
Das Rheingold has its final two performances this week. Leeds Town Hall on Thursday 8 September and The Lowry, Salford Quays on Saturday 10 September. For more information go here.