Liege, Belgium (May 6, 2013)—The Opera Royal de Wallonie (Royal Opera of Wallonia) recently underwent a two-year restoration. Built in 1875, the Theatre Royal de Liege, home of the Opera Royal de Wallonie, re-opened its doors to the public at the end of last year after its 31 million euro restoration.
In 2008, Riva Audio was appointed by the main contractor, Putman, to carry out preliminary research, design and install the new audio system using its expertise in stage mechanics and technical installations of theatres and studios. “The big challenge was to persuade the city officials and opera management to place new audio gear in a classified 19th century building – they wanted the venue to be ‘sound reinforcement-less’,” said Frédéric Vard, managing director of Riva Audio. “For example, it took us quite some negotiations with the government’s Monuments and Landscape Department to obtain permission to place the speaker cabinets.”
XLR sprl, a distributor within the L-Acoustics Certified Provider Network for Belgium, collaborated with Riva Audio on this installation.
The need for a modern audio system was underpinned by the theatre’s management plan to make multifunctional use of the building. Alongside the ORW’s performances, the theatre would host conferences, gatherings and concerts. The venue’s iron safety curtain, compulsory in this category of theater, was equipped with a projection screen on the audience’s side to facilitate the projection of movies.
“When we received the go-ahead for the sound system, we had to take into account the new furnishing of the theatre,” continues Vard. “In the end, we agreed to install an L-Acoustics line array system on either side of the subtitling projection beam above the stage, before the stage curtains. The amplifiers are located close to the speakers and are remote-controlled through a network, like all other equipment in the ORW. The line arrays, consisting of 20 Kiva cabinets—two six-Kiva arrays in front of the curtain and two four-Kiva arrays to serve the lower seats, plus eight SB18 and 14 8XTi as infill ensure complete coverage of the whole theatre.” Instead of painting the Kiva speakers in the same red as the curtains, the Monuments and Landscape Department decided to paint them black, turning the technical equipment into a decorative element of the stage.
The installation of the line arrays and cables followed thorough research and design, with Riva Audio presenting a complete construction document indicating the placement of loudspeaker cabinets within the constraints of the ancient building. “We, together with XLR Project Manager Sébastien Desaever, presented three speaker configurations to the theatre management; L-Acoustics’ contracting and fixed installation department was instrumental in providing the necessary technical plans,” continues Vard.
Vard made use of the stage level boxes in the theatre to install two four-Kiva arrays serving the lower seating of the 1,440 capacity theatre, and the whole venue was cabled with Cat 6 fiber optics. “Installing Soundcraft stageboxes for the signal transfer from the stage to the Soundcraft Vi4 console was a crucial measure; in an opera environment, noiseless connections are essential throughout the system,” says Vard.