April 2011 Issue

Revolving Audience Hears Musical Adaptation of "Soldier of Orange"

AMSTERDAM - Soldier of Orange, a musical adaptation of the 1977 Dutch film, Soldaat van Oranje, is a moving experience for the audience - in more ways than one. For starters, the entire audience - more 1,100 people - revolve around the stage on a turntable that measures 33 meters across, making 30 stops during each performance.
The audio support comes in the form of 14 identical loudspeaker clusters, evenly spaced in fixed positions with the sets. That allows for a complete theatrical LCR mix with extensive reverb and surround effects, a complex mix that must progress around the loudspeaker clusters as the audience turns.


A Meyer Sound D-Mitri digital audio platform with SpaceMap multichannel surround panning, Wild Tracks audio playback and a CueConsole control surface manage the precise mixing and routing of all audio signals at the show.


"D-Mitri and SpaceMap were critical to making the audio work transparently and to full effect," said Jeroen ten Brinke of ADI Group, the show's sound designer. "Often the audience rotates while the actors are walking in front of the sets, sometimes moving halfway around the circle while talking. Fortunately, the transition from one speaker cluster to the next is handled seamlessly by D-Mitri, so the sound operator can focus on the mix."


The D-Mitri system was provided by Rentall bv, based in Bemmel, the Netherlands. Roland Mattijsen of Audio Electronics Mattijsen provided project support.


Soldier of Orange plays in a venue that was purpose-built for the production inside a World War II-era military aircraft hangar. The sets include various indoor rooms and a sweeping beachfront. For the climactic scene, a hangar door opens to reveal a vintage WWII transport plane taxiing up for the triumphant return of The Netherlands' exiled queen.


To handle all the audio signal processing, matrixing and intricately pre-programmed panning, the production relies on 14 integrated D-Mitri modules. Two DCP core processors and a DCM-2 core matrix are at the heart of the system, linked to four DAI-24 analog inputs and four DAO-24 analog output frames, plus one DDIO-24 digital input/output frame.


Wild Tracks provides audio playback using a DWTRX unit with dual solid state drives, and a DGPIO unit communicates with the turntable automation.


Operators mix the show on a CueConsole with one transporter module and five fader modules augmented by four Mac Mini computers and touch-screen displays. Two Apple iPads are available for the RF tech and FOH engineer to monitor different channels and make adjustments remotely during rehearsals and the show.


With several processors distributed around the stage near the inputs and output amplifiers, the D-Mitri system is set up to manage all audio and control data as the audience area and the FOH console revolve.


Chiel Blaauw, one of two primary sound operators and also a programmer of the system, was impressed by the power and flexibility of D-Mitri. "You can program almost everything, such as the fade time on the auxiliaries. I used it for all the monitors on nine different sets. We also used SpaceMap and WildTracks to make flying bombs go around the theatre."


Programming flexibility was not at the expense of audio quality. "I think D-Mitri is one of the best-sounding digital live systems," said ten Brinke, noting that D-Mitri's integration of 96 kHz sampling rate converters was critical in the system's selection. "Other companies think that 48 kHz is enough, but I can hear the difference in the mix."


The musical Soldier of Orange premiered Oct. 30, 2010, with The Netherlands' reigning Queen Beatrix attending. Nearly all shows have sold out since, with an extended run anticipated through 2011.



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