Hi ya’ll, as our current rental slate is winding down with the beginning of summer, I figured I’d take the opportunity over the summer months to take you through some previous shows that have gone out on the road. This month, I want to take you back to our 2019 production of The Ghosts of Versailles.

Photo of the interior at the Royal Opera of Versailles during load-in.


The Glimmerglass Festival not only sends productions throughout the United States, we have also sent several shows overseas. In 2019, we had the unique opportunity to send The Ghosts of Versailles to perform at the Royal Opera of Versailles in France. This was by far the oldest theater that I had loaded a show into. As such, there were some unique challenges.

Photo of the Royal Opera of Versailles | Trizek, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

The first challenge was unloading the shipping containers and getting the pieces in the building. Back when the Palace was constructed, I doubt they imagined that a group of Americans would one day be bringing shipping containers pulled by semi trucks to their doors. The theater has been updated so that it now has a lift, but some of our pieces were larger than the elevator.

Picture this: We are in the shadow of the Palace, using a forklift to pull pieces from the container. The forklift places the pieces on the cobblestone street outside the theater.

We push them into the open elevator shaft and connect the pieces to a motor that is hung above the shaft. This motor lifts the pieces up to a stage where our 21st century steel and plexiglass pieces are stored next to 200 year old scenery flats from the theater’s stock.

It was quite a sight!

Two of the other challenges that we faced were the weight of the units and the flooring in the theater. As the theater is often used for ballet, they had a “sprung floor”. A “sprung floor” is a floor that is mounted on some sort of soft material that allows for the floor to feel a bit springy. It provides comfort to dancers and minimizes injuries due to impact. The issue is that our production had large rolling units that were guided by tracks in the floor. So we had to make sure that the weight of those wagons were distributed so that the sprung floor did not sag and cause the unit to either bottom out, or come out of a track.

Overall, the load-in was successful. Due to it being a small number of performances, they actually had several Glimmerglass technicians stay to assist with running the show. It was quite an amazing experience for all of us–and one that none of us will forget anytime soon.

The crew in France was very welcoming and it was great for us to get to share one of The Glimmerglass Festival’s productions with an international audience.

Next week, we will take a look at another one of our shows from 2019 that is not only one of our larger rentals, but also one of our most popular, La Traviata.

Photo by Karli Cadel | The Glimmerglass Festival
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