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Guthrie Theater and Minnesota Opera Use Robert Juliat Topaze and Manon Followspots In Twin Cities

The renowned Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis has found two markets in the Twin Cities for its Robert Juliat Topaze and Manon followspots. The Theater not only uses a trio of Topazes and a pair of Manons for its own dramatic and musical productions but also lends them to the Minnesota Opera during its season.

“I have been a theatrical technician for 10 years and have used a wide variety of followspots at venues all over the country,â€? notes Owen Moldow, lead electrician at the Guthrie. “When I started working at the Guthrie Theater in 2007 I got to use Robert Juliat Topaze and Manon for the first time, and I was floored. I’ve never seen a followspot so bright or that had such nice action. They are incredibly easy to use and maintain; I never thought that I would actually look forward to using a followspot!â€?

When the Guthrie isn’t utilizing the followspots it lends them to the Minnesota Opera at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in Saint Paul. Robert Juliat followspots have proved to be popular fixtures with opera companies: Cyrano 2500w HMI followspots recently won a lighting shootout at the San Diego Opera and joined the complement of lighting fixtures there.

Manon and Topaze are 1200w MSD followspots with high-performance double condenser optical systems. Manon is being used at a throw of 50 feet and Topaze at 115 feet. They feature a 100 percent closing iris with backplate follower in a removable cassette, 100 percent closing mechanical dimmer and a six-way Boomerang color changer system fitted with removable filter frames.

“The Minnesota opera has been extremely happy with our Topazes and Manons,� reports Guthrie lighting supervisor Tom Mays. “They fit well into FOH catwalks, and the flat field was nice and crisp.�

Lighting designer Robert Wierzel, who used the instruments on the Opera’s acclaimed production of Dvorak’s “Rusalka� in April, concurs. “I thought the followspots were fantastic. They’re a beautiful, clean, balanced light with excellent color, and I had little trouble correcting to a rounded, warm, incandescent color when needed. I wish the Opera would purchase four of them!�

“For ‘Rusalka’ we needed a followspot that was mounted in a FOH lighting position, not a spot booth,� explains Minnesota Opera production director Kevin Ramach. “We’ve mounted various spots in this position before, but the operators always had problems with running the spots because of difficulties with the position. Using the Robert Juliats we had no complaints from the crew.�

Ramach points out that the Minnesota Opera’s production of “Rusalka� used “projected images as a main design element. Because of this, subtle lighting changes were crucial. Control of motion, color changes and intensity of the spots were at the heart of the lighting, and the Robert Juliats performed well. In the end, both the design team and the crew were pleased with the results.� Wendall K. Harrington was the production’s projection designer and Bill Healy the master electrician.

About Robert Juliat

Robert Juliat is a three-generation, independent, family-run company dedicated to stage lighting. The current chairman’s grandfather was, at the end of the 19th century, one of the pioneers in creating special effects for the fledgling motion picture industry in France. Robert Juliat lights are used by customers who include the Cirque du Soleil, Celine Dion, New York’s Lincoln Center, LA’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Disney World, The Royal Shakespeare Company, the Comedie Francaise, the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games, football’s World Cup in Japan and Germany, plus theatres, schools and public venues around the world.

R&D, production and the company headquarters are based in the village of Fresnoy-en-Thelle, 50 km north of Paris. Robert Juliat USA is located in Wallingford, Connecticut. For more information visit


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