Riders of the Purple Sage was Arizona Opera’s first world premiere and featured brand-new, state of the art production equipment. The new equipment provided by Clearwing Productions included a massive LED video wall, an upgraded LED lighting system, four Venus X1, and one Venus X2. A total of 248 Mega Systems’ Phantom 5.9mm video panels were used to create a 56.6’W x 26.6’H wall that proved successful for the show and drew national attention to the Opera.
The creative team at Arizona Opera initially planned a system utilizing projection mapping to display paintings by artist and Scenic Designer Ed Mell, who created the set and backdrops for Riders of the Purple Sage. After partnering up with Clearwing, the Opera technical staff and design team met with Clearwing Manager of Business Development, William Irwin, and decided on a video wall. “Once we sat down, I realized projection wasn’t the best way to achieve what they needed,” says Irwin. “A video wall is a more effective means, allowing the Opera to integrate into the future, using the latest technology.”
“With stunning backdrops that can be considered characters themselves, Phoenix native and renowned western artist Ed Mell is displaying his artwork on a large scale for the first time in his career,” states Green Living Magazine in a review of the show. Riders of the Purple Sage marks the first time that Mell brought his iconic American Western art to the stage.
Projection Designer Jake Pinholster and Co-Projection Designer Michael Bateman provided the video translations of Mell’s paintings into the scenery. “The combination of the video wall, the LEDs, and the ETC gear made such a strong artistic impression on our audience and on critics, that there has been nothing but positive word-of-mouth and press since the opening,” says Greg Hirsch, Resident Lighting Designer and Director of Production at Arizona Opera, who was one of many that enjoyed the success of the Arizona Opera’s first world premiere.