Case Study: Quality Follows Innovation at the Zurich Opera House

Posted by Chloe Jefferson on 8/17/17 9:22 AM  |  2 min read time

Darkness falls over the entire theater, the curtain opens, and a bright spotlight illuminates the dancers on stage…

For the audience, this is just the beginning, but for Martin Gebhardt, head of the Zurich Opera House lighting department, this is the culmination of his hard work that could not have been produced without state-of-the-art lighting features.

Vectorworks Spotlight features are to Gebhardt as warm-up stretches are to pro ballet dancers: absolutely-necessary. Gehbart relies on Spotlight’s essential tools to light up the opera’s well-choreographed interpretation of Swan Lake. The flexibility and advanced techniques of the dancers and of Vectorworks Spotlight work together to collaboratively convey this profound production.


The Zurich Opera House main stage with proscenium arch. Image courtesy of Dominic Büttne. The Zurich Opera House main stage with proscenium arch. Image courtesy of Dominic Büttne.


This year, Gebhardt has worked alongside Lilith Gardell, a trained specialist in event engineering, as well as 30 other talented lighting team members, to craft the lighting design for Swan Lake and many other stunning productions. Gebhardt is responsible for the complete modernization of the opera house’s lighting technology, so he relies on Gardell to create CAD drawings, document the lighting design, and ensure that the lighting plans maintain a proficient and consistent look.

Because of the quick turnaround time for each production, the attention to detail for each plan is extremely important. Luckily, working under a time constraint proves easy with Spotlight libraries and the Visibility tool, as they collectively aid in Gardell’s ability to fabricate lighting plans swiftly and efficiently. “If you get yourself intensively familiar with the program right from the start, and create a well-structured standard lighting plan for your theater, then you save yourself a lot of time in the long term,” says Gardell.

By counting on cutting-edge technology to keep the opera house open to new developments, and to guarantee the continued success of his choreographed lighting, Gebhardt has established Vectorworks Spotlight as an indispensable asset for his workflow. Gebhardt has expressed willingness to share his advice and experience using Spotlight with other theaters, so that they too can depend on the beneficial pre-production tools.


Martin Gebhardt, head of lighting at the Zurich Opera House. Martin Gebhardt, head of lighting at the Zurich Opera House.


Check out the full Zurich Opera House case study to learn more about the team’s work routine with Vectorworks Spotlight, the Swan Lake ballet, and their role as pioneers of new technologies.

Original case study text and publication by: ComputerWorks GmbH
Case study authored by: Martina Moellinger

Topics: Project Highlight, Production & Lighting Design

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