8 Aug 2022

Vale Michael ‘Snapper’ Knapp

by Colin 'Geordie' Alexander​


(Pic L-R: Roger Barratt, Chris Yates, Derek Coutts, Toby Sewell & Snap)

In the early hours of Sunday 24th July, we lost a friend. Snap became a legend of the industry and was so well respected and loved by so many. He was one of the good guys. He was a musician, a creative, a designer and lighting technician sometimes all at once, in a career that spanned over 40 years both in Australia and New Zealand.   


I first met Snap when I joined the Australian Opera in 1992 and boy did we all have some fun; oh those tours to Melbourne with a pocket full of touring allowance. Snapper organised parties for any occasion and could get names on the door at almost any club that was worth being at. He arranged parties to the Victorian countryside to some historic hotel for the weekend. These became the stuff of legend and what happens on tour, stays on tour. “We’ve got a pile of pyro left over from Dream! Ok, lets take those and we can have a display….”

He had a very keen eye and loved a bit of 134 and maybe a bit of half colour and a breakup gobo.

From Leon Dark: Some people remain as friends even when the distance is far and the frequency of catch-ups is few. Snapper was a rather special bloke who many will miss. His willingness to support his colleagues is a trait that I’ll always remember; he covered my arse on more than one occasion, and his delight in organising out of town functions for opera company and venue crew is legendary. Of late I’ve recalled some of the tales he related to me of his days as a drummer, but to relay them in a public forum would be inappropriate. The world is a lesser place on his departure. An oft heard reference; “he was one of the good ones”.


Derek Coutts recalls: I remember so well teaching Snap what a Pattern 23 was, how the shutters worked and what back focused meant, what a Fresnel was and how to size it. All done in the SOH dock. He picked it up like the natural he was and was a welcome member of OZOPLX soon after. Always eager to learn and impart his ZHOUSH to everything he did.

Karen Norris recalls:  Now I’m going way way back..early in our relationship. Michael asked me to operate the lights for his band one night, (Unbeknown to me that at the age of 17, this would become the trajectory of my career) He would run around the stage teaching me how to set and focus the lights, all things technical. The drums always had 4 x floor parcans, 2 x backlighting and 2 x uplighting the cymbals. I would smash these lights to the beat! Michael shone like a star! Over those years of various gigs, Michael introduced glitzy draped fabrics as backdrops, newspaper cycs, and haze for daze, anything to up the ante! He had an infectious enthusiasm for the theatrics of theatre. Beautiful energy that will stay with us always. He has taught us well.

From Chris Yates: Michael Knapp “Snap” was one in a million. Full of life and happiness, he brought a little bit of flair, a little bit of Spinal Tap and a whole lot of ‘Zoush’ to the OA LX department. Never a dull moment with Snap and a whole lot of fun! I can honestly say that the 10+ years I spent working with him and the team in the lighting department at Opera Australia were the most enjoyable of my career – we worked hard, played hard and had many adventures. I miss him greatly and hope that he is still bringing joy to those who may be resting with his soul.

RIP mate.


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