AURUS for five Genres
New Music Theatre Linz with versatile technology
Music and theatre are an essential part of Austria’s rich cultural history. The city of Linz where the Austrian composer Anton Bruckner lived and worked for 15 years shares this tradition. With the new Linz Music Theatre, the city has gained a superlative multidisciplinary venue
In Europe it is rare for a city to build a brand new theatre from scratch. Linz, capital of the state of Upper Austria and, after Vienna and Graz, the third-largest city in Austria was well served with a total of five theatres for its 200 000 inhabitants. However the old music theatre, which served as an opera house and a venue for concert performances of all kinds no longer met audience expectations in regard to comfort and acoustics. For many years, the city had envisaged building a replacement which would ensure both an unobstructed view of the stage and excellent acoustics together with the comfort and convenience of a generously sized theatre. The project had to jump a lot of hurdles. First, there was disagreement about the location, then about the architectural design. But the long gestation period and all the deliberation has paid off, as a look behind the scenes proves conclusively.
At a Glance
The Linz Music Theatre took the move to the new building as an opportunity to establish a musical division for the first time. So, the venue will cover the genres of opera, drama, ballet, youth theatre and musical shows which are stages in three halls: in the large hall with extremely flexible staging; in the black box studio theatre and in the orchestra hall for concert performances, which also serves as the everyday rehearsal room for the world-famous Bruckner orchestra. STAGETEC supplied a NEXUS audio network for signal distribution throughout the building and AURUS mixing consoles for each of the three halls and the additional recording studio.
Sheer Size – the Main Stage
Three stages for five genres means that at least one of those stages must be very versatile. At the new Music Theatre, it is the Great Hall which can be adapted seamlessly to the various genres and their diverse requirements. The stage construction plays a key role in this. First, it impresses by its sheer size: Including the main stage, the backstage area and the wings, the overall stage area is an incredible 2066 square metres. The stage machinery deserves a closer look. It is dominated by a large revolving stage no less than 32 metres in diameter which incorporates a smaller revolve and several platform lifts which can be used during performance. Everything here can be in motion. For modern productions this is a tangible benefit. For all the technical trades however, it represents a huge challenge. To have not only power-supply sockets but also NEXUS audio network ports readily available everywhere on the stage, slip rings were installed for the large rotating stage and the smaller revolve. Optical transformers interconnect NEXUS optical lines at the transitions from the fixed part of the building to the moving stage areas. Now a NEXUS Base Device installed permanently under each of the two rotating areas can be operated independently regardless of the position of the moving elements. These Base Devices route monitoring signals to the stage, accept signals from wired microphones and provide I/O options for non audio data, such as control or stage-management signals. An optical patch bay installed behind the revolving stage slip ring allows up to three additional mobile Base Devices to be connected. The main-stage audio network also includes signal outputs to the power amplifiers feeding the loudspeakers, outputs for the in-ear monitoring systems and over 40 analogue inputs for radio mics. The hall also includes a control room equipped with a large AURUS console. An additional portable AURUS can be set up in the auditorium for musical production as well as for rehearsal support. This mobility adds to the audio flexibility required to mount productions in a variety of different genres.
Even Greater Adaptability
The Great Hall design places considerable emphasis on excellent acoustics. The conditions in the old theatre were quite problematic for some productions, which is why the management would not accept any compromises in the new building. Another focus was on establishing open sight lines from everywhere in the auditorium to the stage since this had been a cause of grief in the previous venue. Sight lines can be seen as good or bad objectively; however this definitely does not apply to acoustics. What is considered perfect for opera might be perceived as inappropriate or even completely unacceptable for musical productions. The client was aware of this and as a consequence has therefore made sure that the audio system is ready for the optional installation of a Vivace acoustics-enhancement system. Vivace enables the hall acoustics to be varied to suit the requirements of any type of show. How this is achieved is explained elsewhere in this issue. Together with AURUS, Vivace would also enable a variety of surround sound effects to be achieved. This would open up yet more opportunities to demonstrate the adaptability of the theatre and would be of particular interest to the developing musical division.
A Trio Under Control
In standard production scenarios, the Great Hall has a capacity of nearly 1000 spectators. Removing the orchestra pit and raising its floor to stalls level provides space for additional seating, extended the maximum capacity to up to 1130. The Black Box, a trapezoidal studio stage for flexible use, is targeted at much more experimental productions and offers up to 270 seats. It allows for variable stage and audience locations. To achieve this requires a very open technical concept. Therefore, the Black Box installation uses only mobile audio equipment, a portable AURUS, with associated NEXUS Base Device, and additional mobile Base Devices from the pool as required.
Productions in the orchestra hall, the third venue of the new Linz Music Theatre, do not usually need audio-system support. This is where the orchestra performs chamber music and holds public rehearsals. The sound equipment in this hall is not designed to support performances but to record them. Therefore, there is a large window between the orchestra hall and the recording-control room which houses the fourth AURUS in this large installation. The entire audio network, comprising the four AURUS consoles and 15 NEXUS Base Devices, is operated as a single network. This makes it possible to record performances on any of the stages as well as supporting productions in any of the three halls.
STAGETEC Components at the Linz Music Theatre
STAGETEC Routing and Mixing Systems:
- 4 AURUS consoles
- 2 NEXUS STAR routers
- 9 NEXUS Base Devices – installed permanently
- 4 NEXUS Base Devices – mobile
With the completion of the Linz Music Theatre, Austria now has a striking new performing-arts venue. With a net floor area of almost 45000 square metres, it is the largest new theatre building in Europe and one of just a few institutions housing all the theatre support operations including workshops for metalwork, carpentry and tailoring as well as all the storage facilities for costume and props. Countless new technologies were used within the project, for example, to install the large fully automated scenery store which enables scenes to be reset in record time Our main focus was on the flexible STAGETEC audio system, the highest quality and maximum efficiency are here as an example of all the components of this successful overall project.