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Live Sound

Santa Fe Opera Gets Atomic with Lectrosonics

For a production of Doctor Atomic held a mere 20 miles from Los Alamos, NM, the Santa Fe Opera turned to Lectrosonics wireless gear

Santa Fe, NM (August 17, 2018)—Santa Fe Opera bolstered its inventory of Lectrosonics technology to 30 channels ahead of the company’s production of Doctor Atomic, which ended its run last night, adding 18 SSM super slight micro belt-pack transmitters and three six-channel Venue2 receivers to its existing stock of SMDa transmitters and Venue receivers.

Doctor Atomic, a collaboration between composer John Adams and librettist and stage director Peter Sellars, focuses on the events leading up to the first atomic bomb test in the summer of 1945 and is set in Los Alamos, NM, barely 20 miles from the Santa Fe Opera.

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Santa Fe Opera’s audio/visual director, Karl G. Kern, noted that the units had “a very low noise floor and very solid RF, so it helps you to get a very clear audio signal. Having that low noise floor when you’re trying to just ghost in a very low volume is very important.”

All the Lectrosonics transmitters were paired with DPA Microphones d:screet 4061 omnidirectional lavalier microphone elements to reinforce the stage performances through the company’s newly installed Meyer Sound CAL steerable column array loudspeakers for the 2,000-plus-capacity house.

Celebrated composer and sound designer Mark Grey did the sound design for the production. “The classical performing arts demand only the best in live sound—critical in sonic transparency, reliability, and highly concealable products,” said Grey. “Lectrosonics always delivers and have been my ‘go to’ for decades.”

“Mark has incorporated those eight microphones into the costumes, in the shoulder and epaulette areas,” said Kern. “He uses the chorus mics more as area mics, and worked with the director, Peter Sellars, to create the stage images. One chorus member stands slightly in front of three other chorus members and Mark’s technique picks up all those voices through one mic.”

Kern continues, “When Mark described it to me a year ago, I said, I can’t wait to see how this works—and it works really well. You don’t see the microphone at all. The capsule sits out and we put a little wire on it to hold it up a little bit and keep it from rubbing the fabric. It’s a very clever technique.”

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Doctor Atomic’s eight principals are all double-miked with dual SSM beltpack transmitters, Kern reports. “They’ve got a primary and a back-up on at all times. We’ve got one female principal who is in a wig, so her mics are under the wig cap. We have one female with natural hair, so hers are clipped into her hairline. All the men are wearing the mics over their ears, on their temples.”

Lectrosonics •