Whether it’s due to budgets or space – every production faces limitations when it comes to the scenery it needs to create. Such was the case for a production of Bizet’s classic opera Carmen at the Mahalia Jackson Theater in New Orleans. This production featured lavish sets and costumes, but the creative team ran into limitations when it came to the mountainous sets needed for Act 3. These constraints were revelatory to Lighting Designer Don Darnutzer, who recently shared with us how he solved the problem with simple, cost-effective gobo projections.
Act 3 in Carmen takes place on a mountain pass at night. In order to create the desired scenery and atmosphere for these scenes, Don conceived a simple – and affordable – solution. He created his own mountain gobo masks using an X-Acto knife and some aluminum oven liners and pie tins. He then combined his handmade mountain gobos with some Rosco G230 Cloud 7 Gobos in the same gobo holder.
G230 Gobos + Handmade Mountain Masks = Cloudy Mountain Peak Scenery
By combining his aluminum masks with the GAM cloud gobos, Don was able to produce effective gobo projections that created a set of cloudy mountain peaks behind the scenery on stage. He also used G231 Realistic Stars, G708 Moonscape XL, and R78480 Stratus 3 gobos to complete his nighttime mountain scene projection design.
Fun Fact: Rosco Gobo #R78480 was originally designed by Don Darnutzer!
Don projected the mountain gobo combination onto the lower part of the cyclorama with the Realistic Stars, Moonscape XL, and Stratus 3 gobos above it. He then projected eight Far Cyc units with Rosco R68 Parry Sky Blue filters onto the white RP cyc to create a deep night sky color. The gobo projections and wash lighting created an evocative nighttime mountain landscape that fit the scene perfectly.
Lighting Designer Don Darnutzer’s multi-decade career includes opera productions around the world, as well as Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regional theatre productions throughout the United States. Don has also created 37 different gobo designs found in the Rosco Gobo Catalog, for which we are eternally grateful.