Luciano Pavarotti recently returned to his home town of Modena, to host the annual open-air Pavarotti & Friends charity concert, with funds this year going to alleviate the plight of Afghan children.

The event was held, as always, in front of a packed crowd and transmitted live by Italian state broadcaster RAI’s channel 1. Daniele Tramontani is in charge of sound for the star-studded show. "Initially, it seemed a live recording wasn’t going to be done, but the organizers decided to put together a well appointed studio in a container backstage, so as well as supervising the FOH system, I was also responsible for the realization of the recording and broadcast mixing set-up - in short, everything apart from monitors!"

Sound engineer Stefano De Maio mixed FOH, with a 72-channel Cadac M-type master desk, a Midas XL3 for the orchestra, and a Heritage 1000 for guest musicians. The audio contractor for the event was Agorà of L’Aquila, and FOH comprised 16 + 16 V-Dosc plus 16 + 16 Meyer Sound 650 subs, plus three delay towers and UPA/MSL4 systems on front-fill - Tramontani once again swore by his trusty SIM II,, which is "indispensable for setting the rig’s components." Monitor engineer Stefano Martinovic helmed two DDA QII, two Innovason Sentury and an A&H 5000 to mix the orchestra’s bug mikes.

Backstage, Mackie’s Sandro Chinellato watched over nine of the firm’s HDR 24/96 hard disk recording units, brought in to immortalize this unique event, at which ‘friends’ duetting with Pavarotti included Deep Purple, Barry White, Tom Jones and George Benson. Hardware in the main container included a new Cadac R-type desk where John Pellowe mixed the orchestra and Pavarotti and sent a feed to two Stagetech Cantus desks, where Tramontani worked alongside Claudio Masci of Optimes (Stagetech’s Italian distributor) and RAI’s Marco Cunzolo, who programmed the desks and assisted during the show. RAI’s OB truck had another Cantus mixing the stereo music feed with ambient, applause and MC Milly Carlucci’s mike.

Tramontani concludes: "Doing a show of this size and importance in four days, including set-up, is a real challenge, particularly when using digital desks, but even if I had the technological back-up of the desks’ memories, on the night I used the Cantus desks almost entirely instinctively and this seems to have paid off."

The lighting contractor was Rome-based Limelite, and partner/LD Massimo Gasbarro explains: "The Pavarotti show got our busy summer season off to a great start, to be followed by Vasco Rossi’s huge nationwide tour set and the Heineken Jammin’ Festival at Imola racetrack. We built a huge flower-shaped rig and Vari*Lite op Luca Maneli and moving light op Alessandro Velletrani controlled 66 VL5s and 44 Coemar CF units (24 Spot 1200W and 20 HE 700W) respectively."

The rest of the set-up included 18 Coemar Panorama 1800Ws, six Space Cannon 2k Black Devils, 12 bars of Par 64 1kW, 24 of Par 64 250W 28V ACL, 24 Molefay 5200s with Molemags, 18 3k strobes, 24 ETC Source Four 19° and six 2.5k Supertrouper followspots. Control was via two Wholehog II desks with wing and a Jands 60/120-channel console. The audience had its fair share of light too, with 24 Molefay 5200Ws, 24 bars of Par 64 ACL 250W 4s, 16 Jumbo ACL 5kWs, 40 Par 64 1000Ws, 12 Sunpar 1200W HMIs and 24 Coemar Panorama 1800W MSIs.

Members of the audience not blessed with a seat among the VIPs in the front rows or the seated area, were ensured a good view nevertheless, thanks to a pair of 50sq.m. LED screens supplied by Turin-based multimedia giant Euphon.
Mike Clark

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