Meyer Sound and Oceania Audio Accompany Pavarotti on Farewell Tour


"By the start of our first show, (systems engineer Mike Smeaton) and his colleagues had learned exactly how the MILO system needed to sound for our show and with their help, we reproduced that sound throughout the tour — by far the hardest trick of all when you're going from indoor to outdoor shows."

- John Pellowe, FOH engineer, Luciano Pavarotti

Celebrated Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti has given much to the world. However, at the age of 70, he made the decision to conclude his performing career with a farewell tour. With a career spanning more than four decades (including a record 40 years with a single record label, Decca), the master tenor chose to step down and devote his attentions to his family, who are accompanying him on his world tour. The global tour included five shows in Australia and New Zealand, concluding November 12, 2005, with a sold-out concert before 15,000 fans at Auckland's North Harbour Stadium. Performing with Pavarotti was acclaimed Italian tenor Simona Todora, accompanied by the 66-piece Auckland Philharmonia, conducted by Leone Magiera.

Reproducing Pavarotti's oversize voice properly requires that no compromise be made in either the sound system or the technicians. Grammy-winning, former Decca Records engineer John Pellowe, long charged with ensuring top-notch audio for Pavarotti's performances, was once again at FOH for the tour. "Twenty years spent circling the globe as Luciano Pavarotti's sound engineer has presented opportunities to work with many of the world's biggest and best sound suppliers," Pellowe notes. "At the top of this list sits a small handful of firms whose staff are exceptionally knowledgeable and always contribute beyond the call of duty to the success of an event. One such company is Oceania Audio, the New Zealand- and Australia-based firm who accompanied us on our recent tour of Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane, and Auckland."

To meet the tour's exacting quality standards, Oceania employed a Meyer Sound system, Pellowe's loudspeakers of choice for countless Pavarotti shows. The main left and right arrays each consisted of twelve MILO high-power curvilinear array loudspeakers flown beneath a pair of M3D-Sub directional subwoofers. These arrays covered the primary house seating area, and were augmented by a center focus hang of six M1D ultra-compact curvilinear array loudspeakers. Six more M1D cabinets were employed at the stage lip to provide frontfill for the closest seats.

Because the stadium layout included sizable seating areas to the extreme left and right of the stage, sidefill arrays were also required. 12 more MILO loudspeakers were split left and right and hung from the stage trussing, facing 75 degrees outward from the main arrays. To ensure that the side areas would hear the same pristine sound as the center seats, three 700-HP ultrahigh-power subwoofers were placed strategically in the left and right side stage areas, while a pair of UPA-1P compact wide coverage loudspeakers on each side handled outer frontfill duty.

Of course, time alignment and system optimization are critical to the success of any large-scale concert. For these shows, the entire system was tuned using a SIM 3 audio analyzer, which received signals from eight Josephson microphones placed strategically around the venue. As impressed as Pellowe is by the MILO system, his highest praise is reserved for the crew. "The Oceania team worked tirelessly to accommodate the exacting standards required of a high-quality classical event," Pellowe says. "My co-pilot throughout the tour, systems engineer Mike Smeaton, also did a great job. By the start of our first show, he and his colleagues had learned exactly how the MILO system needed to sound for our show and, with their help, we reproduced that sound throughout the tour — by far the hardest trick of all when you're going from indoor to outdoor shows."

Pellowe mixed the show using 40 Schoeps microphones (20 CMC5/MK4s and 20 CMC5/MK21s) through a Yamaha PM5D digital console, aided by Lexicon 480L and TC Electronic System 6000 digital effects systems. On stage, monitoring duty for Pavarotti was handled through a set of Sennheiser SR-300-G2 in-ear monitors. A pair of Meyer Sound UM-1P narrow coverage stage monitors served Simona Todora and acted as the back-up system for Pavarotti. The Auckland Philharmonia orchestra received their entire mix through a stereo pair of MSL-4 horn-loaded long-throw loudspeakers, flown left and right in sidefill positions.

Smeaton fully appreciated the rich opportunity the Pavarotti tour represented. "Working with a great engineer like John Pellowe has been a fantastic experience for myself and the rest of the Oceania crew," he notes. "And as always, the Meyer Sound MILO system performed faultlessly to faithfully reproduce one of the greatest voices ever: that of Luciano Pavarotti."

And so it was that Pavarotti, his powerful stage presence indelibly marked by his signature scarf, said his professional farewell to New Zealand. The Meyer Sound system and Oceania Audio's crew played their roles to perfection, bringing the full glory of Pavarotti's still-awesome tenor to his fans. According to John Pellowe, "Pavarotti and his management were delighted by the high quality production." Given the opportunity to work with a legendary artist on his farewell tour, no higher compliment can be asked.

February, 2006










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