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Rita Hits the Road Again with Robe

Rita Yahan-Farouz in concert. Photo: Louise Stickland

Iranian-born Israeli singer, songwriter, and superstar Rita Yahan-Farouz is back on the road after a break of five years, complete with a new album, Transparent Miracles, and a fabulous new lighting and visual design by Ronen Najar, featuring Robe Spiiders and BMFL Spot moving lights.

Rita is one of the best known and loved contemporary singers in Israel. Her tour cycle is scheduled to last around three years and she will take her unique blend of pop, rock, and dance, some of it laced with Persian influence -- to her hordes of fans.

The much anticipated tour started at the Yakum Kibbutz Hall just outside Tel Aviv, where Najar was engaged in five intense days of pre-programing before revealing the magic and mystery creating a stunning looking show for Rita and her 12-piece band.

Najar has actually worked with Rita for around 16 years, so they enjoy a great rapport. This time, they met a few times as the tour started to take shape, when she came up with the basic live concept in terms of the music, rhythm, and pace of the set. From this he produced the essence of the design with the idea for a curved structure upstage of the band.

Visiting a wide variety of venues, from 500 - 3,000 seaters, the rig had to be scalable and the structure had to be capable of either being flown, fully ground supported, or a combination of both.

Deciding against IMAG video and large screens, they did want a playback video element, so Najar proposed a series of 6mm video panels rigged at three different heights with some of the strips separated vertically. These are close enough together for a large picture to be played out.

Once the video architecture was in place, Najar chose and positioned the lights -- 16 Spiiders and 17 BMFL Spots -- all being supplied by Simul Argaman Systems -- around the structure, also on three levels.

The rear of the curved truss is dressed with meter-wide silks that come tumbling down from the top rail, and each of these is up-lit with an LED batten. There are also some additional LED moving lights on a front truss.

So the Spiiders and BMFLs are right at the hub of the aesthetic, creating all the main lighting looks and setting the mood for each song.

BMFL was an absolutely natural choice for Najar. Well known in Israel and acclaimed internationally for his concert, music-based and television work, he was the first LD in Israel to use BMFLs after the launch in 2014, and has specified them for most shows ever since.

"I know the BMFL extremely well and I really appreciate each and every one of its features along with the power and intensity," he comments. "I know how to get an infinite amount of looks -- and I am still finding new ones each time! Robe has done an excellent job in engineering this fixture."

It was the first time he has used Spiiders, and on a rock-style show like this he loves them for the power and precision of the lightsource. "It resembles a PAR in many ways -- sharp, strong, well defined," he states, adding that the colors are "amazing."

The Spiider's central flower effect is not something that naturally lends itself to the way Najar is lighting the show, but he does use it once or twice with great impact through the two hour set. He is using the Spiiders in basic mode for this one which is a style choice to suit the show design -- and while Najar's work is renowned for its more sculptural qualities rather than an over-abundance of effects, he has found plenty of ways to use Spiiders for this show.

He intends to use them for front lighting on his next television show, which is Rising Star, the talent competition that selects Israel's entry for the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon, Portugal.

Najar has certainly pushed the BMFLs and Spiiders for the Rita show, using multiple effects and many subtleties. He played with the different color temperature whites available on both fixtures, replicating a nostalgic tungsten glow for some numbers, and for others it's been a fiesta of full rock-out scenes with piercing beams, fluid movements, and rich color combinations.

The set was divided into three sections, the first of which is mellow and slightly ballady, easing everyone into the vibe and also setting the scene with a narrative detailing the changes in Rita's life since she last spent time publically with her fans.

The tempo then gears up as she presents some of her favorite tunes remixed and reinterpreted, at which point some of the lyrics are flashed up on the screen (in Hebrew) to further engage the audience.

After this, storming towards a crescendo, she calls on her enormous repertoire of hits to the absolute delight of audiences, with most of the auditorium on its feet and dancing!

Najar has been really energized and excited by creating this new show. "It's been a while since Rita played live, so the pressure was on everyone concerned to produce something spectacular and memorable," he relates. "I am very happy with the show -- it's looking good and I think the tour will be a big success."

Most of the lighting is run to timecode on an MA Lighting grandMA2 light programmed by Najar and his associate Mati Morray, and on the road, the lights will be operated by Kfir Asraf. Video designer Voav Cohen has created custom footage for the show, which is being run through a grandMA VPU.


(27 November 2017)

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