With a wealth of platinum and gold records to his name, Italian singer-songwriter and ‘father of Italian blues’, Zucchero Fornaciari, affectionately known as Diavolo in R.E, celebrates his 40-year career this year with his World Wild Tour 2023.

The tour kicked off in New Zealand in April, before returning to Zucchero’s home town of Reggio Emilia on the 9th and 10th of April where he played with huge success to capacity crowds at the RCF Arena, formerly known as Campovolo.

With these two shows, Zucchero inaugurated the new-look Campovolo which now has a 35,000-seat capacity, and a purpose-built 5% slope that ensures optimal views and acoustics across the whole site, making the RCF Arena the largest outdoor music venue in Europe.

Zucchero’s lighting designer, Daniele De Santis, chose 60 Ayrton Cobra for the key feature of his lighting design for these two special shows, knowing he wanted a fixture that was powerful enough to make a mark across the huge space.

“I was intrigued by Cobra from the very first moment this fixture was released onto the market,” says De Santis. “I was fascinated by the opportunity to use a laser source that could give me the ability to ‘go far’. To have a tracer beam that would draw a sharp, clear shape in the air, with vivid colours even at long distances.”

The 60 Ayrton Cobra were positioned around the entire structure of the 80m wide by 18m high stage, with the function of defining the frame of the whole stage and visually enlarging the lighting system.

“The goal was to extend the lighting system in all directions,” explains De Santis. “The concert area was very large and it was important not to exclude any part of the audience. I didn’t want those sitting at the sides or at the back – at about 200m away – to feel excluded. I wanted each of them to feel they were part of the concert, and that they were enveloped in the beams of light coming from the stage. I didn’t envisage putting lights on the delay towers precisely because I wanted everything to emanate from the stage, the central point from which all the lighting began.

“In this the Cobra helped me a lot because, with their beams, I was able to reach to the very last person at the back.

“Although I had an idea in mind of what the Cobras were supposed to do, I didn’t know the full potential of the fixture. I’d focused a lot on the result, which for me was achieving the crucial effect of widening the stage, plus the Cobras were the only fixtures positioned around the structure, together with a frame of blinders.

“I was afraid that by using colours the beams would disappear into the night sky, and I had many doubts at first. But as soon as we fired them up, all my fears and anxieties disappeared,” confides De Santis. “’Wow!’ was my first exclamation at first sight…here were some bright, powerful beams that went “far”, and were everything I was looking for. Within a few minutes everything materialised in my head and I had the confirmation I needed that a great lighting show would come out of this. I began to see the potential of what I could create over the two nights by programming with Cobra. Using the zoom to zero with the beam effect, we created sharp, clean, powerful tracers that I have never seen before in my twenty-three years of experience.”

The Cobras, which were supplied by Agorà, were in action for a week in all weather conditions, without ever being covered during the night.

“An hour before the debut on June 9th, there was a sudden water bomb that spilled over the entire Reggio Emilia area, with deluges of water and very strong wind, that forced us to shut down the system for safety,” says De Santis. “Once the storm passed, we started to turn everything back on with the concern of having « lost » some fixtures. The Ayrton Cobras restarted as if nothing had happened and did their job without any worries. Their water resistance is excellent and their reliability is unquestionable.”

Text: Courtesy of Molpass, translated by Julie Harper
Photos: © Francesco Prandoni

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