Published Tuesday, October 9, 2012
by Philips Vari-Lite

VARI-LITE luminaires are the fixture of choice for the knowledgeable lighting team at the Royal Opera House Muscat.

The Royal Opera House Muscat, which is one of the Middle East’s most prestigious arts venues, has made a point of stocking a variety of VARI-LITE luminaires since it opened three years ago. These include VL3500 Wash and Spot plus VL1100 TS and AS luminaires. Head of lighting Donald Cox explains: “We are just about to go into our third season and VARI-LITE is still the most requested luminaire by far by our incoming lighting designers.”

The Royal Opera House Muscat is a spectacular building, housing a number of venues, each of which embrace an arsenal of state of the art entertainment technology and equipment. However this opulent façade sometimes belies some challenging and harsh conditions.

“Oman is primarily a desert country, and this can be challenging for a number of reasons,” Cox, who previously worked at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, explains. “The main issue is that there’s a lot of sand and dust in the air and we therefore need lighting fixtures that are robust, easy to clean and reliable.

“In addition we haven’t got the engineering and servicing resources that we’d have in Europe. We chose VARI-LITE because they rarely go wrong and they’re pretty easy to maintain. In addition, we do quite a few large-scale outdoor events. Dealing with the sand, dust and heat during the day and with the humidity at night, it takes a toll on any technical equipment with moving parts.”

Cox goes on to say that the VARI-LITE luminaires have become the lighting workhorses in these sometimes adverse conditions, providing not only a flexible and feature-rich rig, but also one that is reliable. And glamour is of the utmost importance, as the Royal Opera House Muscat represents the pinnacle of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said’s cultural vision for Oman.

Donald Cox’s admiration for his working environment is clear: “It’s more of a palace than an opera house,” he enthuses. “When you walk around the front of house and you see the decoration, you can’t imagine building something like this in this century anywhere else - it’s a jewel.”

The venue is attracting companies from all over the globe; last season the program included full-scale operas such as Carmen and Turandot, as well as performances by operatic greats Jessye Norman and Roberto Alagna. During the opening season, Carmen was lit by the largest VARI-LITE rig yet. Last season the venue hosted thirty-four separate companies, this season it will welcome fifty-two in nine months.

“The VL3500 Spot fixtures are ideal for opera, they're very quiet, yet deliver an excellent punch,” says Cox. “The VL3500 Spot, VL1100TS and AS’ are engineered to offer smoothness and quietness while the VL3500 Spot and the VL1100 offer a four-blade shutter for extra precision. The VL3500 Wash allows for both Fresnel and Buxom options and feature internal zoomable beam optics, plus the exclusive VARI*BRITE mode, enabling intense beams of light from any zoom position.”

It’s clear that high quality and high specification are paramount here, and VARI-LITE is an essential part of that offering. “His Majesty expects the best quality technically as well as artistically, says Cox. The shows are often extremely ambitious but when the show goes up, it can make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.”

David March, director of European Sales for Philips Vari-Lite, concludes: “The Royal Opera House Muscat is equipped with some of the finest lighting equipment on the theatrical market. Therefore, we are delighted and honored that Donald has settled on Vari-Lite Luminaires to meet both the highly demanding creative and technical requirements, in this unique and stunning venue.”

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