Saint François d'Assise Elbphilharmonie

Opera Production “Saint François d'Assise” at the Elbphilharmonie

Client: Hamburgische Staatsoper GmbH
Commissioned by: Elbphilharmonie und Laeiszhalle Betriebsgesellschaft mbH
Date: 2nd to 9th June 2024
Location: Elbphilharmonie Hamburg
Services:Lighting, Video, Rigging
Project Manager: Stephan Werner
Special features:
  • Remote Follow System
  • LED ring (⌀ 8 m) in 8K resolution
  • redundant media server system

In his only opera, "Saint François d’Assise”, Olivier Messiaen revisits scenes in the life of Saint Francis of Assisi, who, as a possessionless wandering monk took care of the poorest of the poor whilst preaching to plants and animals. In a performance lasting almost five hours, the climax of the International Music Festival 2024 portrayed key scenes in the life of Saint Francis of Assisi that showcased his close ties to nature. Kent Nagano, the General Music Director, and Georges Delnon, the Artistic Director of the Hamburgische Staatsoper, staged the seldom performed work together with the Philharmonisches Staatsorchester. Over 300 people were involved in the production, which ran for three performances in June on the stage of the Elbphilharmonie's Großer Saal. The top-class cast of singers included Anna Prohaska as The Angel and Jacques Imbrailo in the role of Francis of Assisi.

Nagano and Delnon called their interpretation a “project”. It was not a classical opera performance but a “collage of sound, space, imagery, thought and morality with suffering” as the Hamburger Abendblatt put it. Our team was hired to lend its support in the fields of lighting, video and rigging.

The singers' performance platform, accessed by two walkways, measured three metres in diameter and hovered majestically like a pedestal above the orchestra in the middle of the hall. The walkways were suspended on steel wires, for which we designed a sophisticated supporting structure that also held the lighting equipment and the machinery designed to the German C1 safety standard used for “flying” the performers. Seventy moving lights and a remote follow system were installed for the production itself along with another 80 LED lights used to illuminate the hall. In addition, a circular LED ring, measuring eight metres in diameter and suspended high above the artists, constituted a key element of the performance.

This allowed the audience to watch video clips that we provided in 8K resolution through a media server system we designed with built-in redundancy. The clips formed a video collage intended to expand and provide commentary on the events in the opera.

Because of the Elbphilharmonie's performance schedule, the orchestra pit, the stage set-up consisting of walkway and platform, the near-floor lighting and the projection ring all had to be dismantled and re-installed within a very short time following the dress rehearsal and between the three performances. This worked out perfectly thanks to renewed good collaboration and direct consultation with the Staatsoper and Elbphilharmonie, with ideal preparation of N&M logistics, equipment configuration and staff planning also contributing to this remarkable achievement. We made the best possible use of the short rehearsal times available to us for programming the lighting and media servers as well as for perfecting our operators' cue sheets so that we were able to make a perfect contribution to this well-received opera during the performances themselves.


Photo Gallery

Photos: Bernd Uhlig

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