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EIF: Les Troyens

This week marks my final week, and hopefully not year, shooting for the Edinburgh International Festival. And what a way to finish, with two visually challenging productions from two world-leading companies: Mariinsky Opera's "Les Troyens" (featured) and Handspring's "Ubu and the Truth Commission".

In typical Russian style, the performances at the opera yesterday were full of firy passion, despite many problems both in the orchestra pit and the tech box. Valery Gergiev, who last appeared at the EIF three years ago in "Die Frau ohne Schatten", conducted the socks (and anything else you can think of) off his orchestra, yet nothing seemed to please him.

Meanwhile the lighting team were having difficulties of their own - the spotlights weren't shining where they were supposed to be, actors were standing in the shadows, and the projection was malfunctioning. A typical day at the Russian opera it would seem, as we were kept waiting for a couple of hours before the action of the opera - ironically, war and unrest - could resume.

All technical difficulties aside, it was one of the more colourful, and bizarrely one of the cheerier, shows I've photographed this year. This is in light of 3 weeks capturing an array of pieces about apartheid in Africa, slavery and Scottish independence, and a few other quite gory Russian war plays. The design was simple and alluring - white doves and Trojan battleships graced the ceiling, complementing the clean white dresses and throws of the singers and dancers.

There was even one moment where a performer entered wearing a dress with a 30ft long trail of red velvet. Photographing this was a challenge because not only was the dress trail lying on the stage, so not very clear most of the time, but I was also shooting through a gauze projection screen during this scene, so getting good focus and light was tricky.

One more shoot today and then that's it! Definitely a bit emotional as I prepare myself for Bristol, although maybe not as emotional as these two.

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