ETC composes beautiful light for the Tchaikovsky State Theater of Opera and Ballet

Date Posted: 3/2/2016

Swan Lake at Tchaikovsky Theater

Nestled in the central square of Izhevsk, Russia, the Tchaikovsky State Theater of Opera and Ballet recently underwent a massive renovation in preparation for the 175th anniversary of Tchaikovsky's birth. For nearly two years, the theater was closed for the upgrade, which included a modern makeover of its stage technology, conducted by ETC dealer Imlight. On March 30th, 2015, the theater reopened with a new ETC lighting system.

A large portion of the State Theater of Opera and Ballet's repertoire consists of iconic Tchaikovsky works, such as Swan Lake , The Nutcracker , Sleeping Beauty , Eugene Onegin , Iolanta , and The Queen of Spades . Just before the grand reopening of the theater, the facility was renamed in honor of Tchaikovsky, who was born in what is now the Udmurt Republic, where Izhevsk is located. "It would have been a shame to have given the old theater the name of the great composer," says Philip Razenkov, the head director of the theater, "but not now."

Tchaikovsky State Theater of Opera and Ballet

The first production to be staged in the renovated theater was Swan Lake , danced by the entire 37-person troupe to sold-out crowds. "What we saw in that production couldn't have been done with the old equipment," claims Marcel Arukayev, chief of the theater's electrical-lighting department. "We did that level of performance before, but only with rental equipment, which came at a significant cost. Now we have everything in house on a permanent basis, even the most advanced technology. It is all due to the hard work by Imlight's project-installation department."

In the 699-seat theater, Imlight installed a complete lighting system run by an Eos Titanium (Eos Ti®) lighting-control desk. The Ti is paired with a Universal Fader Wing , which adds additional hands-on control. Programmers can also control the lighting remotely from their iOS devices, thanks to ETC's iRFR app . The rig is packed with ETC lights, including Selador® Classic Lustr® , Source Four® , Source Four Zoom , Source Four Fresnel , and Source Four PAR fixtures . Some of the Source Four Zoom units are outfitted with Source Four Dimmers , which provide per-fixture, silent, distributed power control. A Unison Paradigm® system is used for architectural-lighting control, and networking is provided by ETC Net3 Gateways .

Eos Ti at Tchaikovsky State Theater

"Lighting in ballet is critical," states Nikolai Markelov, head ballet master at the theater. He notes that the lighting has a strong effect on the mood of a ballet, that a hint of blue can turn a white-lit scene into an ephemeral fantasy that pulls an audience further into a story. That's why the theater chose Selador Desire® D60 Lustr+ LED luminaires for washlighting. "The LED arrays produce an almost unlimited range of hues, from crisp white and soft pastels, to the brightest, most vibrant colors," says Nikolai Bykov from Imlight's lighting-installation department. "Their color can be adjusted to fit individual skin tones, ensuring that the performers look their best."

Marcel Arukayev, electrical-lighting department chief

The Tchaikovsky State Theater of Opera and Ballet's new lighting system is the most advanced in the entire region. "From the first production, you could sense the huge difference in the lighting. It's night and day," describes Razenkov. "All of this opens up completely new possibilities and makes it a dream to work with."

"This is fantastic," gushes Markelov. "With the old equipment, we weren't able to achieve the right effect. But now the equipment is on another level. It's made life easier, as it's become really convenient to work with the lighting. The new tools come in handy for a higher caliber of shows, enhancing and carrying out an incredible range of ideas. Before we worried, but now I look forward to the times when we have this scale of show in our schedule."

Tchaikovsky State Theater grand reopening

Stage Designer Sergey Novikov is also pleased with the result: "I saw the theater before the reconstruction. It was a sad saga: an overabundance of set pieces, and everything had to be spotlit. Marcel would procure what he could, usually household lightbulbs to illuminate the back of the stage. It was sheer misery. Every theater should be able to enjoy the kind of equipment we have now."

Since the renovation, the Tchaikovsky State Theater of Opera and Ballet has become the cultural center of Udmurtia, packing in crowds night after night. With the new equipment, they have been able to add larger shows, like modern musicals, to their schedule of operas and ballets. And the directors are looking forward to staging new adaptations of shows from their earlier repertoire. 

The lighting equipment has helped make the theater worthy of Tchaikovsky's name.