Dramatic open heart surgery

Leopold Denk’s eyes light up when he talks about the Vienna Burgtheater: “It’s really a special place. My wife and I come here all the time”. Like the 57 year old mechanical engineer from Bosch Rexroth, many of Vienna’s 1.7 residents have a very special relationship with the Burgtheater.

Audiences in Vienna are sophisticated and almost expect the arts to be provocative. The only thing they will not tolerate is a bad performance. This means a great deal of pressure – and not just for the actors onstage. Behind the scenes as well, everyone is passionately devoted in making “their Burg” a success. Actors, set builders, technicians – thery’re all one big family who are there for each other.

It’s really a special place. My wife and I come here all the time.
Leopold Denk

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Any “outsider” granted access to the most sacred inner workings has to be someone the Burgtheater family implicitly trusts. Ideally, such a person should be just as deeply immersed in theater as they are. Being a knowledgeable theatergoer, Leopold Denk fits the bill perfectly. And as an expert at Bosch Rexroth, he is also well versed in stage technology.

This is a serious requirement, because the action going on behind the scenes right now at the Burgtheater is anything but routine. And it’s very delicate. The Burgtheater needs a new stage control system. That means forbidden territory – performing open surgery on the theater’s heart, so to speak. It all has to go without a hitch; the alternative is unthinkable. Performances, which only take break for Good Friday, Christmas Eve, and a very few weeks in the summer, would otherwise grind to a halt.

Bosch Rexroth is set up to jump right into this emotionally charged environment and upgrade the stage technology.

“We are installing a control system that has no equal in any other theater”, Denk says with visible pride. Being able to work backstage at this theater has allowed him to fulfill a long-held dream. “I have waited almost ten years for this moment”.
Bosch Rexroth has a wealth of experience in equipping the world’s stages. Moskow’s fabled Bolshoi Theater also boasts technology made by the Bosch subsidiary. “These people are virtuosos in their field. They want to fully master the technology from the word go”, says Ernst Meissl, Burgtheater’s technical director.

When the word is finished, it will even be possible to operate the complex machinery for the stage and scenery from a remote control console in the auditorium. This will give the director a full overview of the set changes from the audience’s perspective, so if he needs to make minor adjustments, it will all be there at his fingertips. Sensors also measure the precise load on the girders from which the flats are hung. That lets even complex, multi-part scenery be flown in and out in sync and with absolute precision.

These people are virtuosos in their field. They want to fully master the technology from the word go.
Ernst Meissl, technical director

Facts on Vienna’s Burgtheater

Built: 1888
Maximum capacity: 1,340
Seats: 1,175
Stage area: 780 m²