This year’s Salzburg Festival included a new highly original production of Gounod’s Faust, a four-hour opera directed by Reinhard von der Thannen, which along with a talented cast of soloists, featured the Philharmonia Chor Wien and Vienna Philharmonic.
The opera was broadcast live and recorded for airing at a later date, as well as for production of a DVD by Italy’s MASClassica, a company specialising in opera and symphonic works, which deployed its mobile Focusrite RedNet based system for the project.
The MASClassica team, whose work takes it to key European theatres and as far afield as Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts opera theatre, comprised Claudio Speranzini (audio producer and musical consultant), Antonio Martino (sound engineer), Marco Gorini (technical assistant), Michele Conti (technical assistant – RF tech) and Wiebke Maderlechner (RF tech).
Martino explains: “In the large festival hall (Grosses Festspielhaus) we used 14 microphones for the orchestra (a combination of Schoeps MK2 4, MK4, MK21, AKG 414 and Neumann KM140), six stagefront microphones, seven ORF Schoeps mics flown from the ceiling (five MK 2S for the flown front mics (A/B stereo, front C and wide A/B stereo) and two MK 2H (LS and RS) halfway up the room for surround). For the solo singers, we used eight Sennheiser 5000 series wireless systems with MKE 1 capsules.”
The microphone signals from the stage to the orchestra pit were fed to Austrian broadcaster ORF’s patch panel on stage and from there to MASClassica’s five nearby RedNet4 units (four for microphone signals and one for the wireless microphones’ line signals), interconnected by means of a Cisco switch and making use of the Dante network. There was also a MacBook Pro with a RedNet PCIe card on stage for a backup recording.
By means of an Ethernet/fibre converter outside the switch, the signals were fed from the stage patch panel to another identical one in the audio control room below the small festival hall (Haus für Mozart), located about 500m along the road.
There, using the inverse procedure, the team reconverted the signals to Ethernet and hooked up to the Dante network via Cisco, which distributed them to an iMac, with a RedNet PCIe card and the Yamaha CL5 digital console used for mixing, carrying out HD recording for future broadcast and the DVD.
Post-production work will be carried out in two stages: the first, for broadcast on Medici.tv’s website and 3sat will be done in the Oberhaching (Munich) premises of Unitel (one of the world's leading producers and distributors of classical music for audiovisual media), while the second, for the DVD of the opera, will be carried out in MASClassica’s studios in the Marches town of Monte Porzio.
The majority of MASClassica’s work is carried out in venues, which are not equipped like cabled in-house studios, where it is possible to set up a full-scale audio control set-up for recording, streaming and TV broadcasts. The company frequently have to use theatre’s boxes, backstage areas or even dressing rooms, often located quite some distance from the stage and orchestra pit, as was the case in Salzburg.
Martino says: “So, when we had to choose a system that could be adapted to meet our requirements and enabled us to save time during move-in and set-up, we opted for the RedNet system, which, as well as its extremely transparent preamps, allows us to position the preamp/converter units as close to the musicians as possible and limit deployment of analog cables.
He adds: “The various RedNet units are connected to a network switch with a single cable (fibre in this specific case) and from the switch all the signals can be taken for HD recording and/or connection to mixer(s) or other equipment compatible with the Dante system. Through time, it has proven to be an extremely reliable system, as well as being is modular and open to future integration.
“The Salzburg project differed from other similar ones we have worked on the past, insofar as we used fibre cable, since the considerable distance between the hall and our control room meant we were unable to entrust data transmission to the Ethernet cables we normally use.”
Pictures: Top: Stunning scenes from Gounod's Fast, a four hour opera directed by Reinhard von der Thannen. Second: The opera was broadcast live, recorded and will also be put on DVD. Last: MASClassica team. (L-R): Michele Conti, Antonio Martino and Claudio Speranzini in the 'improvised' control room.