RIVAGE PM7 is the new star performer of Opera Wrocławska
Poland – Streaming performances have become a common way to present the performing arts to audiences on a scale no one could have predicted just 18 months ago. After struggling with the technical sound production of Opera Wrocławska’s first streaming production, a Yamaha RIVAGE PM7 digital mixing system changed everything for its audio department.
Streaming has offered a vital lifeline for the arts during the pandemic, but the question has arisen as to whether larger-scale productions like orchestral concerts and major theatrical shows can broadcast their performances with the artistic effect required? An essential element in achieving this is, of course, the sound of the production.
In 2020, the Polish Opera in Wrocławska adopted live broadcasting, but it faced two key issues. First of all, out of 300 people, the hall’s sound service consisted of only three people: Grzegorz Bieńko, Sebastian Jarus and Jakub Krzysiek, who had no experience with streaming productions. Second, the mixing capacity was three Yamaha DM2000 mixing consoles, which were not ideal for adapting to streaming shows.
“The DM2000 remains an excellent audio console for theatrical use, but due to its age and facilities it was difficult for us to provide the best quality for live streaming,” says Grzegorz.
Intrepid, when they were tasked with directing the sound of Opera Wrocławska’s first live streamed concert – an orchestral version of Stanisław Moniuszko’s opera Straszny dwór (The Haunted Mansion) – Grzegorz, Sebastian and Jakub took on the challenge.
Mixing the opera is always a challenge, with the orchestra, choir and soloists coming together to create a cohesive performance. But, in addition to the limited technical facilities, each musician and singer had to maintain a physical distance of at least one meter from each other. To make matters even more difficult, the production has been arranged in a 360º circle. One of the technical hurdles was clearly the unwanted spillage of different sections into the microphones of others.
Grzegorz, Sebastian and Jakub populated the six expansion slots of each DM2000 with Yamaha mini-YGDAI cards, which allowed them to network the consoles through Dante, routing the signals to the opera studio where the live mixing took place. The base stream for the live mix consisted of over 100 channels.
The Haunted Mansion proved to be a great success for Opera Wrocław, but it was evident that improvements were needed to simplify the audio setup and deliver better sound to the online audience.
Wrocław-based PogoArt has worked with opera on many productions, especially large-scale outdoor events, and was therefore happy to provide a Yamaha RIVAGE PM7 digital mixing system. From a production of La Bohème by Puccini, the sound team immediately noticed a huge technological advance.
“They had worked several times with Yamaha CL and QL series consoles, but the ease of use, ergonomics, technical facilities and sound quality of the RIVAGE PM7 surprised them,” says Slawek Pogorzala, owner of PogoArt. “The 96 kHz sound, the saturation of the individual channels at the preamp level and exceptional reverb processing, much more extensive grouping and send flexibility (eg a single channel to the Matrix bus) were just the beginning. “
He continues, “Tools like the Dynamic EQ and Rupert Neve Designs plug-ins have allowed the audio team to precisely fine-tune the sound heard by the audience, while retaining the naturally complex dynamics. Even the very fast jumps sung by female soloists, which have always been a problem for DM2000s, are easily handled by RIVAGE PM7.
Two other features that have made a huge difference to the audio team are the system’s ability to handle simple parallel multitrack recording for streaming and the way it handles virtual soundchecks. They were able to spend more time working on the sound and, during rehearsals with the performers, use that time to really refine the audio production.
“Given the technical challenges, the audio team delivered an outstanding production of The Haunted Manor with the three Yamaha DM2000s. But, in comparison, what the RIVAGE PM7 system delivered has been absolutely fantastic, ”says Slawek. “It brought consistent, precise and nuanced sound quality, which truly brings the audio quality of Opera Wrocławska to audiences online.
“Opera Wrocławska has a new star quartet: the three members of the sound team and the Yamaha RIVAGE PM7!