The Vridilo Je show was a massive high-profile tribute concert in Spilt Arena, Croatia, starring the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra (ZPO) and dedicated to the late singer, entertainer, and Croatian superstar Oliver Dragojević, an iconic figure who passed away in 2018 following a career spanning over 50 years.
The event was organised by his family, management, and record label, and was an emotional and important occasion for his many fans.
Lighting designer Sven Kučinić used the opportunity to specify Robe’s new ESPRITE LED spot moving lights – with the transferrable light engine – for the first time, 24 of which were delivered the day before to Croatian rental company ELDRA which supplied lighting and video equipment for the concert.
Kučinić was asked to design lighting and set by the record company, having worked with Dragojević on numerous occasions both live and on television and internationally in recent years. He worked closely on the overall show design with Video Designer and Creative Director Lea Dekleva. The goal of the entire creative team was to present a unique celebration of the artist’s work that would have maximum value as a stand-alone show.
The ZPO was conducted by maestro Alan Bjelinski and joined by the Izvor Choir who also worked regularly with Dragojević on his shows in recent years. There was also a band comprising some of the best musicians in Croatia plus a glittering array of famous guest vocalists who had collaborated with Dragojević across his iconic career, including Gibonni, Petar Grašo, Tedi Spalato, Stjepan Hauser from 2CELLOS and Antonio Serrano.
“It was a great honour,” stated Kučinić, “both to be asked to light the show in the first place and to be the first to use the Robe ESPRITES in Croatia.”
He chose these as he needed a reliable LED spot fixture with superior optics and ESPRITES were “the best choice by far.”
The fixtures were delivered to Split Arena still in their packaging as they had literally only just been received from Robe HQ preceding the show’s get-in.
The trussing design was a conventional straight truss setup which enabled Sven to rig the lighting fixtures at specific angles to the artists so they were asymmetrical and interesting when turned off.
The ESPRITES were the backbone of the lighting system.
They added some virtual scenography by creating a dynamic lighting backdrop that changed shape and colour as well as being used as essential key lights for the different groups of performers onstage – soloists, band, choir, orchestra.
“The Gobo selection is excellent, especially combined with the 5.5 to 50-degree zoom range, the precise prism effects and the subtleties of the animation wheel.” In a couple of scenes, he used the rotating shutter blades to great effect. “I’d accept ESPRITES any day as a primary fixture for anything from a theatre or TV production to a big arena concert like this one,” he enthused.
He observed that the LED engines have been calibrated with “surgical precision” in terms of colour temperature, intensity, and evenness (no hotspots), and the CMY colour mixing is tuned to “Robe-level” standards of quality, consistency and reliability.
Kučinić was also instrumental in ELDRA’s decision to purchase the ESPRITES.
The company had been looking for a new-generation LED spot for a couple of years and had also considered several competitor brands along the way, however, they decided to wait until Robe had launched the ESPRITE to make their investment. ELDRA’s CEO Igor Drazic and Sven attended the secret ESPRITE demo at Prolight+Sound in Frankfurt 2019, and the decision to invest was made after that.
Also on the rig for this concert were 32 Robe LEDWash 600+s and 20 MMX WashBeams which were the main and only front lighting, and they worked together with strobes, blinders, some beam moving lights and some large LED washes.
Kučinić programmed and ran the show using a grandMA3 full-size console.
His chief lighting technician was Zvonimir Borovac, and the sound engineers for the show were Dejan Krošelj (FOH) and Bruno Molnar who took care of the orchestral mix.
Video content appearing on the main two onstage screens was a visual focus of the show, with a mix of remastered archive material from the life and career of Dragojević that was carefully coordinated by Dekleva, record label representative Sanja Crnko and VJ Olgierd Kamienski. An IMAG camera mix of the live action was streamed to the side LED screens. Spaladium Arena is one of Sven’s favourite venues, being simultaneously large and intimate enough to satisfy most demands. He enjoys a great working relationship with the in-house team there including manager Renco Posinković.
Challenges included delivering to expectations of this much-anticipated show – originally planned as a birthday concert for Dragojević in 2018, postponed at the last minute due to his deteriorating health – which was the talk of the local, regional, and national music industry. It was likely the only show of its kind, as such also representing a closure for the artist’s family, friends, and fans in the form of a poignant and very special event.