There were great festivities for Il Volo’s 2015 summer tour: twenty-three outdoor concerts starting from Switzerland, then down through the Italian peninsula from Trieste to Palermo, with three dates in Rome. While their hit single Un grande amore continued to soar up the charts around the world, the young operatic pop singers’ exciting tour ended up with a big final concert at the Verona Arena.
Clay Paky’s lights and the enthralling, unique beauty of the Italian music repertoire dominated the stage.
Lighting designer Roberto Mezzi has followed Il Volo, whose name means the flight, right from the early days: “I did four years abroad with them, where they are idolized, in the truest sense of the word, as top ranking stars. They still needed a big success in Italy, and they got it by taking part in the Sanremo Music Festival.”
The outdoor concerts during the tour required large spaces, professional commitment and technical reliability. “The data specifications with a request to find spaces large enough to host a 17.5 x 13 yard (16 x 12 m) stage was almost always complied with everywhere.” At that point, it was necessary to arrange all the classic elements required by an orchestra, together with simple blocks and the scenic elements laid down in the specs.
When it was not possible to find the required space, it was necessary to adapt the movements, and the lighting design.”
There were no wings and two large platforms: one for hosting the 25 piece orchestra and all five musicians in the group, and the other, where the trio could perform with total freedom of movement. “Actually, they never kept still, despite the instructions and planned positions!”
The workload changed at the Verona arena: “The spaces were perfectly satisfactory, but the new songs, cover versions and arrangements were more dynamic: Volare, il mondo… They required new scene programming on the console.”
Mezzi’s lighting design stems from the artists’ music, and from listening to the songs on the concert track list. “I have know Il Volo for years: their repertoire is chock-a-block with classic Italian songs and new songs introduced over time. My working method usually requires the track list of the songs the artists are rehearsing. Listening to the songs suggests – albeit only partly – the atmosphere to use to start programming the scenes with WYSIWYG, and I take part in the rehearsals with the show already set up.”
The producer has always let Roberto Mezzi choose the lighting equipment to use and rely on during the tour. “I assigned each member of the trio his own follow-spot so he was free to move anywhere: on the stairs, on the orchestra platform… I placed fifteen Alfa Profile 1500s on the three battens in the rig, and hung six together on the first batten to illuminate the forestage and the various orchestra soloists, when I felt the need to highlight them with profuse full light.”
The light output of Clay Paky lights outdoors is a guarantee of success.
Did you light all the various parts of the set from the battens? From the front?
“No, not all. We couldn’t put the Sharpys on the ground because there was not enough room. We used them all for side lighting. There were three battens on the rig, but for back-lighting and to produce effective effects, I came up with using two vertical side lighting battens equipped with compact lightweight units, comprising twenty Sharpys and sixteen Sharpy Wash 330s, which have the light output, and visual and optical effects typical of lights which are three times more powerful.”
With the Sharpy’s tracer effect, colours and highly versatile optical system, it was possible to illuminate the platforms and produce silent, fast colour changes on demand on the band and on the orchestra.
Roberto, you followed Il Volo up till last summer, didn’t you?
“Yes, that’s right. It was a highly satisfying summer. It worked out great! A great success. And I’m quite sure that the new tour will also get going with the same momentum. And it will go just as well!”