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Lighting System Grows with New Opera House

PLSN Staff • News • November 12, 2008

WEXFORD, Ireland — The new Wexford Opera House is on the same site as its predecessor, the Theatre Royal, but at 83,420 square feet, it is 4.5 times larger, and now offers almost twice the seating capacity and a 130 percent increase in stage area. The new home for the Wexford Festival Opera, which just concluded its 57th season, needed to be equipped with a versatile control system. The building stages live performances year round, hosts resident arts organizations, and rents two theater spaces and meeting rooms.

Northern Light was responsible for installing the lighting, sound and communication systems, which included 230 ETC Source Four lighting fixtures, an ETC Eos console and two ETC Ion lighting control consoles.

The main auditorium was equipped with about 500 channels of ETC Sensor+ dimming. Northern Light installed another 100 channels in the new opera house’s smaller performance space. A DMX and Ethernet network controls the lighting rig for the stages, and an ETC Unison house-lighting control system is also integrated into this networked system.

“I was delighted that Northern Light was selected for the technical installation in this new-build venue,” said Colin Cuthbert, Northern Light managing director. “Seeing the end result of months of hard work by all involved in the build of Wexford Opera House was awe-inspiring.”

Architects and building service engineers from Ireland’s Office of Public Works (OPW) developed the initial layout for the custom-built opera house, joined by theater consultant Carr & Angier, and Arup Consulting Engineers, Nolan Ryan QS and Keith Williams Architects also played an active role.

Before giving the nod to the ETC Eos and Ion, Wexford’s staff and lighting designer looked at six different lighting control desks.

“Both desks are ergonomically well laid out,” said board programmer Eion McNinch. “On the Eos, the angled touch screen means you don’t have to lean over the desk while programming. Given that I can sit in front of one for days during rehearsals, that means I’m not all hunched up at the end of each day!

“I really like the intuitive and well thought-out patch screens,” McNinch added. “And accessing soft buttons is a cinch. The sneak button is brilliant, and having a dedicated Home button for attributes is a really nice touch.”

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