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Celine Dion Stays Home with Meyer
The long-standing relationship between Celine Dion and Meyer Sound entered a new phase on March 25 when she opened in "A New Day…", the eagerly anticipated fusion of musical artistry and innovative theater scheduled for a three-year engagement at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. Dion has toured the world with Meyer Sound systems since 1992, but now she will "stay home" with the largest Meyer Sound system ever installed in a theater – and quite likely the most ambitious concert-quality 5.1 surround system ever devised for live music production.
"A New Day…" is being staged in The Colosseum at Caesar's Palace, a new $95 million, 4,000-seat venue built specifically to accommodate the demanding technical requirements of a show that stands out as adventurous even by Las Vegas standards. The sheer size of the stage alone is daunting – covering 22,450 square feet and crowned by an enormous proscenium arch measuring 120 feet wide by 44 feet tall. A cast of 58 performers, musicians and vocalists joins Dion on stage under the direction of Franco Dragone, the daring innovator behind many of Cirque du Soleil's fabled productions.
The 153-speaker surround system for "A New Day…" was conceived by Denis Savage, the show's sound designer and Celine's FOH engineer since 1986. For the labyrinthine details of the system, Savage worked in close collaboration with renowned system designer (and veteran SIM engineer) Francois Desjardins. According to Savage, they agreed from the outset that Meyer Sound self-powered loudspeakers would comprise the core of the system.
"We have been touring with Meyer Sound speakers for quite some time, and I have always been very, very happy with the results," says Savage. "The Meyer speakers have always given us the sound and the tonal qualities that we wanted, and the factory support has been amazing. The people at Meyer were always 100% behind us, even back during the madness of our stadium tours, and that's something I think is very important. So, putting sound and support together, Meyer was the obvious choice."
The main FOH system for the show comprises Left, Center and Right arrays of Meyer Sound M3D Line Array and M2D Compact Curvilinear Array loudspeakers. Eight M3D cabinets are hung to the left and right of the proscenium, with the center channel routed to dual M2D arrays of eight cabinets each. Three MSL-4 Horn-Loaded Long-Throw loudspeakers are flown outside the main arrays to assure even coverage throughout the wide upper balconies. Sub-bass is provided by a dozen M3D-Sub Directional subwoofers split in two arrays, supplemented by eight ground-stacked USW-1P Compact subwoofers.
According to Savage, the M Series arrays provided precisely tailored coverage patterns for the interior of the Colosseum, along with performance characteristics ideally suited for both the power and delicacy of Dion's voice. "I heard the M3Ds last spring when I was on tour with Garou," he recounts, "and I was immediately impressed with the sound."
For the surround channels, the theater walls are studded with a total of 53 deftly concealed Meyer Sound loudspeakers, including the UPA-1P Compact Wide Coverage, UPA-2P Compact Narrow Coverage, UPM-1P Ultra-Compact Wide Coverage, and UPM-2P Ultra-Compact Narrow Coverage models. CQ-1 Full-Range Wide Coverage loudspeakers fill the far corners of the main floor, while two of Meyer Sound's newest and most innovative products are assigned to the problematic first few rows: the SB-2 Parabolic Wide-Range Sound Beam and the MM-4 Miniature Wide-Range loudspeaker system. Because no speakers could be flown anywhere inside the massive proscenium arch, the first few rows fell outside the patterns of the main arrays. "The Sound Beams gave us very good coverage in the center section, just back from the stage," says Savage, "and they also gave us very good control in order to keep sound from spilling back onto the stage." The SB-2s were aimed precisely to cut off coverage between the first and second row, with the front row seats covered by eight tiny MM-4 units concealed in the lip of the 40-inch high stage.
Savage was privileged to work with a large group of skilled and talented audio professionals, beginning with cohort Desjardins, who configured loudspeaker coverages using the Meyer Sound MAPP Online multipurpose acoustical prediction program and also performed system alignment using the SIM System II FFT Analyzer. System integration and installation was a joint venture of Solotech of Montreal and Audio Analysts of Colorado Springs, under the overall direction of Mario Duchesne and Bert Paré for each company, respectively. Lead project manager for engineering and systems integration was Solotech's Bob Barbagallo. Audio Analyst's Ron Howard served as installation project manager, with Will Lewis assigned to on-site supervision.
"A New Day…" is created by DRAGONE and produced by CDA and Concerts West, an AEG Live Company. Performances are proudly presented by Chrysler. Architect for The Colosseum was Sceno Plus of Montreal.