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Lady in the Dark | Volksoper Wien


Volksoper Wien (Vienna People’s Opera) is a historic opera house built in 1898 and is home to a variety of operas, operettas, ballets and musicals. Earlier this year, they performed the Kurt Weill classic Lady in the Dark. The musical tells the story of Liza Elliott, the editor of Allure magazine and her psychological issue with indecision. She is torn – not between two lovers, but three – all of which want to marry her. For a solution, Liza starts treatment with Dr. Brooks, a psychoanalyst, and they work through her issues by analyzing her dreams. “The set design relied on four wagons equipped with rotating L-shaped walls; they were up to 6 meters high; they created, widened and modulated the space,” notes lighting and networking engineer Christian Allabauer of Volksoper Wien GmbH. Lady in the Dark opened there in late 2021; the lighting design for Lady in the Dark was done by Michael Grundner. 

Liz’s dreams take center stage during the performance; one dream takes place in a glamour setting, another is during a wedding, and the third takes place at a circus that includes a trial. “The transition along the glamour, wedding and circus dreams were pronounced by color-tunable LED tubes, fitted along the edges of the walls. Six wheeled archways were equipped with blue LED tubes, opening the world to the ‘blue dream,’ and supporting its choreography,” Allabauer adds.

Due to the nature of the scenic wagons, Volksoper required a wireless solution for the LED tubes. “To achieve the required flexibility, wireless control was a must-have,” he admits. “The compact design required metal framework; there was a lot of traffic on stage, and little space to fit electronics made us consider the locations of receivers very carefully.”

To control the LED tubes, Volksoper Wien turned to RC4 Wireless. “’Lady in the Dark’ was our first production running RC4; we appreciate the small form factor combined with a high-power rating,” he notes. 

The RC4 Wireless W-DIM4 four-channel wireless high-power dimmer was Volksoper’s choice for Lady in the Dark. “The W-DIM4 became one of our most frequently used tools, as wireless stage lighting elements are requested again and again by leading teams. Fifteen amps per channel in such a small housing is amazing!” says the lighting and network engineer.

In terms of programming the W-DIM4, he says, “It’s very easy and intuitive! Dimming curves and the capability to dim tungsten lamps as well are quite helpful.” For RC4 Wireless users in Europe, he adds, “You need to get a special tool to crimp the connectors; Anderson connectors are not easy to find in Europe. Order some additional connectors to use the units for several productions.”

RC4 Wireless also provides customer service via phone and email which Allabauer utilized during the production. “We really appreciated the great and instant service,” he says.

Lady in the Dark concluded its run in early 2022. Their 2022/2023 season includes La Cage aux Folles, Into the Woods, and the ballet Begegnungen; Volksoper is using the W-DIM4 in the second act of the ballet. RC4 Wireless technology is also part of Death in Venice, a co-production with the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Allabauer concludes, “The RC4 W-DIM4s just worked reliably and were an important factor in getting the job done.”