Ever since 1979, international artists have been pouring their magic over the Upper Austrian city of Linz for the annual Linzer Klangwolke. This is when the Donaupark, situated between the Lentos and the Brucknerhaus, is transformed into a gigantic performance area for what has become the city’s flagship event.
The week-long festival always begins with the so-called ‘Visualised Sound Cloud’ (Visualisierte Klangwolke), which attracts around 100,000 spectators and is therefore the largest staged open-air event in Europe with free admission.
This year, director Francesca Zambello and assistant director/choreographer Eric Sean Fogel created Odyssey. A Journey Through Worlds, denoting a journey on the river of life taken by a little girl, the only survivor of an apocalyptic catastrophe.
Internationally famed Austrian lighting designer Manfred Nikitser (Scorpions, etc.) created the design for the huge performing area, measuring around 1,000 × 600 metres, which included three barges on the Danube and a stage on land.
In order to be able to create sufficiently strong images given the large distances involved, and at the same time create as much variation in the design as possible, he turned to the weatherproof GLP fixtures Fusion X-PAR 12Z, XDC1 and Impression X5 IP Bar.
Three floating stages at great distance
Since the audience is 150 metres or more away from the action on stage, the production required large lighting images with plenty of punch. The ‘main stage’ this year comprised three floating transport ships on the water. And with another stage on land, a total of four locations were available to show different stages of the heroine’s journey, with each performance area offering its own unique architectural design.
One of the floating stages was equipped with a set design dominated by triangular structures made of steel beams. “We asked how we could best illuminate these triangles so that they appeared as architectural structures, even at a distance,” explains Manfred Niktiser.
“It was clear that we would need a lot of lighting, from moving heads that on the one hand offered the appropriate power plus zoom, but on the other were so compact that they fit into the support structures.” After the successful use of the Fusion X-PAR 12Z for this year’s Amadeus Austrian Music Awards, the designer once again turned to this powerful LED PAR from GLP.
On two of the ships, all special steel structures were equipped with a total of 104 Fusion X-PAR 12Z. The two visible legs of the triangles mentioned were completely lined with X-PAR 12Z (72 pieces in total) in order to make the shape visible from afar. On a second ship, wall climbers from Naturfreunde Linz showed off their skills on six slanted traverses. Here, another 32 Fusion X-PAR 12Z were used as keylights.
“The zoom and the compact form factor of the X-PAR 12Z were crucial here,” observes Niktiser. “There are only a few Led PARs in this size that offer sufficient output for such an application.”
XDC1 used as Floodlights
In addition, 12 weatherproof GLP XDC1 IP Hybrid fixtures were deployed, eight of which were placed on the stage area, with the triangles on the left and right, in order to either create coloured light in the middle or a side strobe effect.
“The XDC1 from GLP was the right choice for this. Their beam angle made it possible to achieve a powerful, homogeneous wash over the entire surface with just a few devices. If necessary, we could also use it as a strobe,” explains the lighting designer. “Their high output made them perfect over the distance.”
Stage front light with impression X5 IP Bar
On the same ship, the designer also placed 10 impression X5 IP Bars at the front edge of the stage. Thanks to the motorised tilt, they could be aimed either at the stage or at the audience. “This stage offered a lot of acrobatics and aerial performances,” says Niktiser, “so we needed a fixture that was relatively low but still able to illuminate the entire performance area. The zoom of the very bright impression X5 IP Bar made this possible without any problems.”
Since the Danube would have had to be closed to shipping traffic for rehearsals, there was only a dress rehearsal for the Linzer Klangwolke 2023 on the evening before the show. “Some rehearsals can be carried out on land, but not under realistic conditions. There is very little time available for lighting, so it is all the more important that the lighting ultimately works exactly as you imagined on the evening of the show.
Fortunately, it all worked out very well, largely because I knew that I could rely on the fixtures I had chosen,” summarises Niktiser. In this sense, the Linzer Klangwolke 2023 was a real ‘one-take wonder’. As usual, the collaboration with GLP worked excellently, he says. “Olli Schwendke once again provided great support.”
The technical service provider Supporting Role Austria also made a major contribution to the success of the show, as Niktiser emphasises: “Supporting Role has been servicing the Linzer Klangwolke for several years now and has brought a lot of experience and knowledge of the local conditions. Crew chief Florian Bauer and the organiser’s technical manager, Roman Widmann, deserve a special mention here.
The wealth of experience of this team is incredibly valuable in implementations such as this. Wireless signal management in particular is a difficult and complex matter. But it was no problem for the well-rehearsed crew, who always had the tight schedule very well under control.
“It was an honour to have worked on this unique project as part of the great international creative team and I would like to thank everyone who contributed to its great success.”
Director: Francesca Zambello
Dance choreography and assistant director: Eric Sean Fogel
Composition: Laura Karpman
Set design: Charles Quiggin
Lighting design: Manfred Nikitser
Lighting design assistance: Marissa Munderloh
Video Content Design: S. Katy Tucker
Video Content Design Associate: Blake Manns
Costume design: Aleš Valášek
Acrobatic choreography: THE FREAKS: O.C. Ono
Aerial acrobatics choreography: Lyla Goldman
Dramatic Representation: Kelley Rourke
LIVA Team (Linz event company):
Production Management LIVA: Wolfgang Scheibner, Alexandra Rieger, Katrin Fink (Assist.)
Design & Graphics: Lukas Eckerstorfer
Production: Mario Proksch, Roman Widmann, Team LIVA/Brucknerhaus Linz
Lighting technology crew:
More information on the GLP website