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Jacques Designs Lighting In China for ‘The Magic Flute,’ New National Performing Arts Center of Beijing

Published: March 1, 2010

David Jacques, a professor of Theater Arts at CSULB, recently returned from China where he designed the stage lighting for the opera “The Magic Flute,” which was presented in Hong Kong and at the new National Performing Arts Center of Beijing.

Jacques was in China for three weeks designing and supervising the lighting for “The Magic Flute,” Mozart’s favorite piece of all his work that is known for its plain and interesting form of myth play and gripping plot. The opera was produced by Opera Hong Kong and jointly presented by National Centre for the Performing Arts and The Norwegian National Opera. The ensemble included artists from both China and overseas.

In his stage lighting design, Jacques developed the layout and precision focus of the lighting fixtures as well as the programming of the lighting intensities and movements by utilizing state-of-the-art automated fixtures and controls.

“I created a theatrical lighting design using modern automated stage lighting fixtures. The lighting supports the message of the opera, creating atmospheres that support the mood of the piece while revealing the set, costumes and actors,” explained Jacques, who has been teaching within the College of the Arts at CSULB for 11 years.

Jacques has created more than 300 theatre, opera, television, dance and special event productions. He has designed at such prestigious companies as Teatro La Scala, Teatro la Fenice, The Lyric Opera of Chicago, Welsh National Opera, The Kirov Opera in St. Petersburg, Teatro San Carlo, and many other North American and European venues. His designs for television have been broadcast on NBC, A&E and PBS. That’s when he is not playing his Hammond organ in local blues and jazz bands.

According to “The Magic Flute’s” director Paul Curran, both critics and audience members expressed the important contribution the design of the lighting made to the “end product.”

“David is a ‘lighting designer,’ so he is very much a vital part of the overall design of the show. He brought the highest level of professionalism and talent to ‘The Magic Flute,’” said Curran. “The show would not have looked in any way good without his invaluable contribution to the very nature of the design. The set was based on very simple elements. Without the right and appropriate lighting design, the show would have looked very much the poorer.”

This spring, Jacques has been busy designing the lighting for the Canadian Opera Company’s production of “Otello” and the English National Opera’s production of “Tosca” in May 2010. Tosca will be his London debut, which will be followed by his debut of “The Tsar’s Bride” at the city’s Royal Opera House Covent Garden in May of 2011.

Davis Jacques
Photo courtesy of David Jacques
David Jacques

In 2003, Opera Hong Kong became the first opera company established in the city and “The Magic Flute” was by far the most ambitious project it had ever produced, according to Jacques.

“I enjoyed working in China because the crews and staff were very supportive and accommodating,” Jacques said. “It was interesting watching the reactions of the Chinese audiences. As is the custom, we had expected a great deal of interaction among the audience, but they were quite attentive and responsive to the dramatic, as well as the comedic moments in the opera.”

The production of western operas in Beijing is rare. The space-age appearance of the city’s new two-year-old, $400 million National Performing Arts Center is only overshadowed by the complex’s immense size. There are three venues inside the building: a concert hall, a small theatre, and an opera house that seats more than 3,000 people.

“As this theatre complex is only two years old, we were able to incorporate state-of-the-art automated lighting fixtures and control. As in most new theatres, it takes time for the technical crews to be properly trained in the new technology,” said Jacques. “The show premiered just three weeks before in Hong Kong. Working with the crew heads, we had only four days to reassemble everything before the premier in Beijing. This was a huge challenge that we overcame with good people and good planning. The same production will be presented at the new opera house in Oslo in the fall of 2011.