Volksoper Vienna commissions Lawo console
Thursday, 2 July 2020
volksoperwienmc2562aVolksoper Vienna’s newly installed console
Austria - The Vienna Volksoper (Volksoper Wien), Vienna’s grand house for operetta, opera, musicals and ballet is home to not only opera and theatre facilities, but also to a recording studio and modern control room. And those facilities now also boast a new Lawo mc²56 console, commissioned by Lawo technicians using remote-control technology.
Volksoper Wien’s facilities are used to record performances for both television broadcasts and concert recordings, especially of premieres, and also to create audio clips used during performances. In fact, all of the opera’s publicly available audio content is produced within their own walls.
As the only multi-purpose venue in Vienna which produces a full complement of opera, operetta, musical and ballet, flexibility is key; more than 150 singers, 95 orchestra musicians and 100 dancers are part of Volksoper Wien’s ensemble, which places high demands on the audio technology used in both the performance space and the recording suite.
To meet these demands and also prepare for the future, the Volksoper was equipped with a new, IP-based mc²56 mixing console from Lawo, commissioned in January 2020 to replace the first-generation mc²56 installed in 2012.
As with everything, the Volksoper was affected by coronavirus this season, with safety measure leading to a standstill of stage operations, with restricted access to the building and audio control room, presenting challenges in installation and configuration of the new console.
Martin Lukesch, Volksoper project manager and head of sound and media technology, along with Lawo project engineer Daniel Egea, decided to approach the process using remote-control commissioning. In addition to the mxGUI software supplied with the mc²56 console, selected online conference media were employed, allowing for optimal interaction between Vienna and Rastatt.
The remote-control approach has become very familiar to Egea. “At the beginning of April, when coronavirus safety measures were still extremely strict and no one, not even the client's own engineers, were able to carry out installations or factory acceptance tests on-site or at our premises, Lawo developed an infrastructure that enabled remote FATs,” he recalls. “With continuing safety protocols around the world, we have worked to make remote commissioning and its corresponding workflow a standard part of our process. It’s now almost routine for us to supervise a project remotely.”
“After the new console was delivered in May, the mechanical installation was carried out by the Volksoper crew using appropriate health-safety protocols. Then, using the online setup, Mr. Egea was able to read out all data remotely and create new Compact Flash cards for the console, and remaining adjustments were then made again by remote maintenance. All data and production content were transferred, and everything worked without any problems.”
The new 32-fader mc²56 features 96 DSP channels and offers a routing capacity of 8,192 x 8,192 crosspoints. It supports SMPTE 2110, AES67/Ravenna and Dante, all optimised for IP video production environments. Button-glow, colour backlit touch-sense encoders and colour TFTs provide clear color coding of channel strips for better visibility and faster access, even in low light conditions, and Lawo's LiveView technology provides thumbnail displays of video streams on the fader channel displays.
The mc²56 offers features tailored specifically for theatre and live performances, like Selective Recall, Oversnaps (relative trim sets), comprehensive theatre automation via Cue List with various triggers (MIDI, GPIO, LTC), integration of Waves SoundGrid and Neumann DMI-8 digital microphones, and mirror console operation.
During a normal September-to-June performance season, the programme at Volksoper Wien’s 1,337-seat repertory theatre includes dozens of different productions with almost 300 performances. This year, the last performance took place on 10 March, but rehearsals re-started in June. On weekends, the Volksoper is currently presenting concerts for a maximum of 100 listeners in the auditorium, with regular performance operations scheduled to re-start in September.
(Jim Evans)

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