For its major offering of the 2007 holiday season, Lyric Opera of Chicago mounted Strauss’ monumental Die Frau ohne Schatten, a work with staging demands so difficult that productions are rare. With the world’s attention on them, Lyric was determined to deliver a memorable production, and contracted Chicago Flyhouse to design and deliver a flying horse, a floating glass cube capable of supporting a performance platform, and Performer Flying for two aerialists.

The flying horse presented particular challenges – made of a relatively thin pre-fabricated fiberglass mold, it needed to be reinforced with a custom-built steel inner frame to support the rigging hardware and the weight of the performer.

Working with Hudson Scenic, Flyhouse approved the design and fabrication of a steel “skeleton” with careful attention to weight, balance, rigging safety, and ease of flight.

Further complicating the design, Die Frau’s director requested the horse not only fly, but rotate 360 degrees while in flight, requiring a unique combination of Flyhouse’s Ziplift hoists.

To ensure a perfect effect, the completed horse was brought into  Flyhouse’s Flyloft for rigorous testing and client demonstrations prior to performer rehearsals.

Flyhouse staff also designed and supervised the installation of over 300 ft of track in Chicago’s historic Civic Opera House. Although initially contracted to deliver two sets of tracks with one motor on each, staging developments required the horse and floating glass cube to fly simultaneously, resulting in the need for a third motor.

With the cube weighing 270 lbs plus the weight of an adult performer, and the horse weighing 150 lbs before the addition of its rider, the rigging design for the stunt had to be strong while remaining compact, silent, and 100% safe. Flyhouse’s Ziplift was a key component in the speed and ease with which the design was adjusted, and with the seamless results of the completed effect.

Flyhouse is proud to have participated in the success of this landmark production, once again shining the spotlight directly on Lyric Opera.

For more information on the Lyric Opera visit their website.