ENO partners with ADI for drive-in opera
Thursday, 12 November 2020
eno-09-20109Opera comes to Ally Pally (photo: Oliver Brindley)
UK - English National Opera chose live event specialists ADI to support them in the delivery of ‘the world’s first fully staged drive-in opera’, ENO Drive & Live at Alexandra Palace (19-27 September).
This ambitious outdoor project saw performances of Puccini's La Bohème take place outside Ally Pally, providing UK audiences with live opera for the first time since March. ADI supported ENO in delivering the drive-in experience by providing a complete event production solution, incorporating staging, structures, LED screens, lighting, OB and cameras.
Despite the creative and technical challenges of delivering fully-staged performances beyond their usual venue, ENO in partnership with ADI achieved the feat of transforming a car park at Alexandra Palace into a fully-featured outdoor theatre on a vast scale.
The production has been met with critical acclaim, with the 16 live performances hosting many sell-out audiences. The production was also broadcast live on Sky Arts.
ADI worked closely with ENO’s technical team to design and build a raised stage solution. This featured high resolution 4.6mm 45sqm LED screens on the wings to offer image magnification and coverage for up to 100 vehicles.
For audio, ADI and ENO explored several options, including delivery over Bluetooth via an app, but eventually decided on the traditional drive-in solution of delivering over radio signal to individual cars. This was supported by an onsite 5.1 audio system which covered the whole car park to ensure an impeccable aural experience from every corner of the venue.
The 385sq.m stage was designed with integrated ramps to allow multiple vehicles - including vintage VW campervans and convertibles - to drive on and off stage as part of the performance, while a separate double-storey structure was incorporated upstage to host the award-winning 40-person ENO orchestra. The staging also needed to support the two large LED displays, PA solution and full theatre lighting rig, including moving heads and LED batons.
The outside broadcast solution from ADI was extensive, with a team of directors, engineers and camera operators creating a live screen mix for the large LED screens in the wings, and also delivering video feeds to the Sky Arts OB team for
Matt Noddings, English National Opera’s technical director, comments, “It was clear from the outset that ADI understood what we wanted to achieve, and they were both enthusiastic and knowledgeable in their support for ENO making this tremendous statement for the live arts sector. Moving production from the London Coliseum to a car park could have been quite daunting, but thankfully that wasn’t the case. The ADI team have been brilliant to work with.”
Harj Virdee, ADI business development manager, adds, “In spite of the current landscape for the arts and live events sector it’s fantastic to help bring a world-first project to life, and to do so with such a respected company like ENO.”

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