Amarillo Opera Finds a Mic for Divas

Jim Elliott, technical director for the Amarillo Opera in Amarillo, Texas, has miked opera singers, but always quite regretfully. Finally, Elliott felt that it was due time for "a better solution.”
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Jim Elliott, technical director for the Amarillo Opera in Amarillo, Texas, has miked opera singers, but always quite regretfully. Finally, Elliott felt that it was due time for "a better solution.”

"The most important thing to know about opera is that it and microphones don't mix," Elliott says with a laugh. "It's an insult to most opera singers if you put a microphone on them; it's something that's just not done very often. Our problem is that we currently perform in a venue that seats 2,400 people and doesn't have a balcony. It's a long, flat room, and there are some definite dead spots. Even the best opera singer cannot fill that hall because of the acoustics. For the last 10 years, we've 'sweetened' the sound of opera singers by miking them. The great thing about all of that is that we're getting ready to move into a venue where we won't have to do that anymore. But in the meantime, we needed a better solution."

Elliott searched for a well-built and unobtrusive wireless microphone system, something that would also offer superior frequency agility. "We now perform in a civic center, which has a coliseum right across the hallway," says Elliott. "There are also two banquet and two exhibit halls in the building. With the coliseum hosting tractor pulls, hockey and indoor football, we're always running up against strange frequencies. We needed a product that would search for frequencies and helped us re-assign quickly. With the help of Kyle McMenamin of Pro AV Texas, we found the Lectrosonics Venue system. After seeing local Paramount Terrace Christian Church use it, and with just a little more research on our part, I knew the Venue was what we needed."

Elliott completed the wireless system package with Countryman IsoMax E6 EarSet microphones and the compact Digital Hybrid Wireless LM transmitter beltpacks. To ease transport for the Amarillo Opera's numerous location events, the Venue units reside in a rackmounted and castered road case with onboard distribution system. "We're also going to use the Lectrosonics system with our outreach teams," explains Elliott. "They perform in schools all over the Texas panhandle and needed a small P.A. system for traveling." The portable P.A., also configured by Pro AV Texas, features a 12-channel Soundcraft Spirit mixing console, a dbx DSP processor and JBL Eon loudspeakers.

As the Amarillo Opera completes a production of Beauty and the Beast and prepares for a fall production of Hansel and Gretel, Elliott feels confident with about his chosen microphone wireless system. "Having the small beltpacks and smaller microphones will be great for all the action involved in Hansel and Gretel," says Elliott. "In the spring, we move into a brand-new hall.”

For more information, please go to www.lectrosonics.com.