L-ISA backs Cincinnati Opera in the park
Thursday, 9 September 2021
lacinopera3Outdoor opera in Cincinnati
USA - On the outskirts of Cincinnati, the city of Blue Ash came to life this summer with the sounds of Carmen, Tosca, and The Barber of Seville reimagined for Cincinnati Opera’s Summer at Summit series, held outdoors from 11 July to 1 August at Summit Park. It featured singing and music from internationally renowned guest artists, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Opera Chorus. The outdoor setting, a choice driven by the Covid pandemic, allowed for an under-the-stars experience, yet with all the grandeur of grand opera theatre sound, thanks to the use of L-ISA immersive technology provided by L-Acoustics.
A system co-designed by Jonathan Burke, who directs the sound design programme in the School of Theatre, Film and Television at UCLA, incorporated L-Acoustics’ broad range of technologies. Sixty Kara II enclosures were configured as five arrays of a dozen enclosures each, all flown from towers and the stage canopy, as the Scene system. The arrays benefited from L-Acoustics Panflex horizontal steering, which assured coverage over the entire seating area extending 450ft from the stage.
In addition, 16 KS28 subs were arrayed in a centre arc on the ground, while nine Kiva II enclosures were deployed as front-fills along the leading edge of the stage, placed atop the subs. Finally, six Syva medium-throw colinear source speakers were mounted on light poles at the rear of the seating area and, using L-ISA Room Engine functionality, created the rear-surround array. All components were provided by Firehouse Productions.
“This was a unique deployment of L-ISA,” says Marcus Ross, director of applications, Americas at L-Acoustics. “Due to weight restrictions on the outdoor stage, we had to disperse the Scene arrays wider than usual, instead of over the stage. It’s not how we normally configure speakers for L-ISA, but what this deployment did is show how flexible the system really is. And it was also able to overcome a number of other challenges in this situation, including the fact that the seating was so widely dispersed - the first row was 50ft from the stage.”
The mission was to create an operatic experience outdoors, and L-ISA accomplished that. “We looked at how to add surround speakers in an inconspicuous way so that the illusion of reverb was built into the sound system from the start,” comments Burke, who spent a day at L-Acoustics Westlake Village studios familiarising himself with L-ISA and with mixing object-based live audio before collaborating with Ross and L-Acoustics application engineer Jordan Tani on the system design for the Summer at Summit series.
“I’ve spent some time working with immersive audio systems such as Dolby Atmos, but this is the first time I was going to mix immersive sound live,” he says. “It really is a new and wonderful world.”

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