Opera Australia’s Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour returned to Fleet Steps, on Thursday 24 March, with their latest production, Turandot, a Chinese fable of a death-marked love.
Set against the world-class backdrop of Sydney Harbour, is the stunning feature piece of the Turandot stage: the mythical Chinese dragon created by leading event construction company Staging Rentals & Construction (SRC). The dramatic sculpture, which drapes around the entire stage, is an impressive 60 metres in length and weighs approximately four tonnes.
Designed by Dan Potra (Theatre and Film Designer), the talented team at SRC brought Dan’s vision to life over four months, using a German-imported robotic arm.
It’s the first time this piece of machinery has been used in Australia to create something of this magnitude. “The Robot” as it is affectionately known, was employed in the first stage of the carving process of this incredible piece, with the second stage of carving being completed by hand using chainsaws and various hand tools. The dragon sculpture, made from approximately 300m³ of expanded polystyrene (EPS), took more than 1,000 man hours to carve.
The Robot is a Kuka, model KR 300 R2500 Ultra. This new machine has an additional axis, with the 7th axis being the turntable bed on which the substrate sits while being milled. The Robot and turntable are connected and ‘talk’ to each other while sculpting, making The Robot more versatile and dramatically speeding up the process.
SRC imported The Robot from Germany and the spindle, which is the high speed rotating part that spins the cutting tools, was imported from Italy.
David Comer, Managing Director of SRC said that following the construction of Queen Nefertiti’s head for the 2015 production of Aida, the benchmark had been set and the team was excited to deliver yet another incredible custom piece for Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour.
“The whole team at SRC was excited to conceive and then build another sensational talking point for the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour stage. The giant head for Aida was carved entirely by hand but we realised that the more complex Dragon would require something a bit more precise and hence the 7 axis robotic arm.”
“It was a massive undertaking and this year the use of The Robot ensured incredible precision. It is a valuable addition to our production process and its capabilities are second to none,” said Mr Comer.
Turandot is running until 24 April 2016, for more information and to book tickets to see this breathtaking performance – and the dragon centrepiece