The Verona Opera Festival is not only renowned for its sublime operatic performances, but for its historic venue--the 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheatre, built in 30 AD. Since the inception of the Verona Opera in 1913, performances at the Festival at the Arena di Verona have been without live sound reinforcement. K-array, along with the production company, Musical Box Rent, was asked to provide the first sound system to ever be utilized in the legendary arena. The change was prompted by a need for better overall sound quality throughout the venue, including its back rows and terraces.
This year marks a milestone in the history of open-air opera, where technology has finally met up with the artistic needs of the genre. To increase intelligibility and perception of detail without detracting from the raw nature of operatic performance, a completely transparent sound reinforcement system was required; K-array’s KK50 Kobra loudspeakers were selected to preserve the traditional atmosphere and acoustics of the theatre.
Alessandro Tatini, CEO of K-array, recalls meeting with Musical Box Rent owner Giambattista Zerpelloni while working on the sound for a concert given by Elisa, the award-winning Italian-born singer-songwriter. “In short, the singers, musicians, and directors were afraid of losing the naturalness of the sound, due to the sound reinforcement system,” he says. “It was a difficult concept to convey that in reality, our system wouldn’t amplify at all, but would merely enrich the sound to a minimum degree.”
K-array KK200s were used to support the surrounding terraces at the Verona Opera Festival
The installation team placed 128 K-array Kobra KK50 speakers at the foot of the stage, each connected to a microphone directly above; K-array KR 200s loudspeakers were then placed around the perimeter of the arena. The KK50s were aimed towards the terraces, where previous sound had been poor for the audience. For each column, there were eight amplifiers with two different signals; one signal directed towards the audience, and the other steered towards the orchestra as monitors. Thanks to digital signal processing (DSP), each speaker was programmed to precisely disperse sound waves within a selected section of the audience, so that the entire arena benefited from a natural resonance. The ultra-slim KK50s were fitted below the stage, completely hidden from view.