Sound designer for Pulitzer Prize—winning composer JohnAdams and engineer for Kronos Quartet, Mark Grey has toured throughmost major opera and concert hall stages.
When reinforcing large indoor opera, stage monitoring for soloistsand chorus is critical. Keep the ondeck sound as “acoustic”as possible, but get maximum coverage around all action areas. Foldingback spot mics in the orchestra with an “inverted orchestrafoldback” approach reduces feedback issues. Typically, stringsare placed throughout the pit opening, woodwinds are directly under theapron edge and brass/percussion are deeper understage. Use a set offlown stage-left/right downstage fills, and another set upstage. Forthe downstage fills, mix 10% strings, 50% winds and 70%brass/percussion. For upstage fills, mix 80% strings, 40% winds and 20%brass/percussion. If singers cannot hear themselves, reduce all onstageloudspeaker levels, and then adjust the balances. If still no luck,feed about 10% of 2.5-second vocal reverb to the upstage fills only.Never foldback lavalier mics to the stage.