Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, one of classical music’s best-selling artists, will perform in a unique concert at Etihad Park in Abu Dhabi on November 24. Haidar Shukry, VP of Operations with event organizer Flash Entertainment, tells BroadcastPro ME what it takes to put on an event of this magnitude.
Tell us a bit about the kind of technical preparation needed to create a live experience at Etihad Park. Does Flash Entertainment manage all AVL experiences on the site?
We are well equipped to deal with all levels of organization for individual event needs. For a show on the scale of Andrea Bocelli for example, the technical preparation is enormous, safety being our main concern. The audience journey is where we begin the basis of all our plans; entry points should be clearly marked and operated in such a way as to reduce any formation of crowds. This can be quite difficult, especially when dealing with thousands of people wishing to attend the show, all of whom arrive at the venue within two hours. It is essential that we work closely with a dedicated health and safety team from the outset to determine and manage crowd entrances, exits and movements.
In terms of AVL systems, these are usually based on Artist Jumpers, which vary. That said, Flash Entertainment adds to the peripheral areas, further improving the customer experience.
What does Andrea Bocelli’s accommodation require in terms of microphones and sound systems? And having a large audience – what does that require, especially if it’s outside?
Andrea Bocelli’s technical specifications are very detailed due to the nature of the show. Amplifying an orchestra is not easy. The sensitivity of orchestral instruments in an outdoor configuration is one of the greatest technical challenges. The string, brass, wind and percussion sections are sensitive to the natural elements, as heat and humidity can affect the tuning of the instruments. The sound system is meticulously designed to mimic a studio concert hall, allowing engineers to mix and produce natural acoustic sound, covering every seat in the house.
SPLs (sound pressure levels) are also managed so that what is heard in the front row is the same as in the back rows, with no loss in quality. To accomplish this, we will be installing a left, center, and right (LCR) system with front fills and additional delay speakers to cover the grandstand. We are convinced that this system will provide the ideal experience for a concert of this style.
There is a whole range of microphones and techniques that can be used to pick up an orchestra. Andrea Bocelli’s team uses a combination of close-up and ambient techniques with mics from Schoepps, Sure and Sennheiser, among others. In addition, the positions of the microphones are very important and will allow the audio team to best capture the natural acoustic sound of the instruments.
How will this experience be different from others at Etihad Park, given that the venue hosts many high-profile artists?
Non-classical music shows are called high profile shows; however, for Andrea Bocelli it is much more refined. We have to mimic the sound of a studio with an orchestra all over the room. Fortunately, Etihad Park has a surrounding roof structure which is beneficial to the audio systems used, as it creates a natural reverberation tunnel.
Andrea Bocelli’s concert will be a seated performance, which creates a fixed listening field very different from a high level standing performance. Andrea Bocelli’s visuals will be based on the tempo of the music, making the visual experience very fluid. For high-level performance, the upbeat tempo will allow visual mixing engineers to cut and change more frequently with faster moving images and other visual effects.
The same can be said for the lighting, as Andrea Bocelli’s show is more static with lighting effects changing very slowly during each song and scene, with changes occurring at the start of each song or track. – unlike a high profile show, where there will be a lot of movement and multiple color changes as well as additional lighting and laser effects during each song.
Does this performance require a different setup or AV setup? If yes, why?
In addition to the speaker setups mentioned, we will also group certain instruments together and send them to specific speaker arrays, creating what we call a point source effect. For example, instruments positioned on the left will be loudest in the left speakers, and the same for center and right suspensions.
This will create a focal point based on the position of the instruments on stage. The audiovisual equipment used will be of the same type as those often used for a high level show; however, configuration and quantities will vary. You would think that fewer speakers would be used for an orchestral performance, but in fact more speakers are needed. This is due to careful attention to consistent SPL levels throughout Etihad Park as well as maintaining the LF contour in the listening areas.
What are the challenges of organizing such an event?
Anticipating and strategically meeting challenges is an integral part of the role of an event planner. The biggest challenge we foresee is managing the orchestra and choir on site; however, other logistics also come into play. These include creating and managing space for changing rooms, catering and transportation. Flash Hospitality teams use their experience as well as their suppliers to manage these tasks seamlessly.
What key kit will you be using?
The sound system will be an L-acoustic rig using K1, K2 and Kara speakers with suspended and floor stacked subs. Audio control will be via Digico SD7 quantums with 32-bit cards in the supporting stage racks. Several lighting fixtures will be used, such as Clay Paky, Ayrton, Robe and others, all controlled using Grand MA consoles. There will be three large LED screens as well as six vertical fingers that will add to the look of the stage, displaying content produced by Andrea Bocelli’s team.
How many people are needed to set up the surface infrastructure for a project of this scale? What numbers can you share in terms of people, cabling, infrastructure, equipment, etc. ?
The technical team will consist of approximately 30 engineers, technicians and stage crew. The production team, comprising F&B, ushers, security, medical staff, cleaners and general site staff, is the largest workforce at around 10 times the technical team – around 300 people.
Almost all of the staff employed at our events are residents of the UAE and have developed an incredibly high standard of delivery. This contributes to why the UAE is such an attractive destination for performers – vendors operating in the region stock the latest equipment, alleviating the need for expensive freight and further enhancing the customer experience and international tours. production teams.