Celebrated Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti concluded his performing career with a farewell tour, which made its final stop on November 12, 2005, with a sold-out concert before 15,000 fans at Auckland’s North Harbour Stadium. Performing with Pavarotti was Italian tenor Simona Todora, accompanied by the 66-piece Auckland Philharmonia, conducted by Leone Magiera.
Grammy-winning, former Decca Records engineer John Pellowe was once again at front of house for the tour. “Twenty years spent circling the globe as Luciano Pavarotti’s sound engineer has presented opportunities to work with many of the world’s biggest and best sound suppliers,” Pellowe notes. “At the top of this list sits a small handful of firms whose staff are exceptionally knowledgeable and always contribute beyond the call of duty to the success of an event. One such company is Oceania Audio, the New Zealand– and Australia-based firm who accompanied us on our recent tour of Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland.”
To meet the tour’s exacting quality standards, Oceania employed a Meyer Sound system, Pellowe’s loudspeakers of choice for countless Pavarotti shows. The main left and right arrays each comprised 12 MILO high-power curvilinear array loudspeakers flown beneath a pair of M3D-Sub directional subwoofers. These arrays covered the primary house seating area, and were augmented by a center focus hang of six M1D ultra-compact curvilinear array loudspeakers. Six more M1D cabinets were employed at the stage lip to provide front-fill for the closest seats.
Because the stadium layout included sizable seating areas to the extreme left and right of the stage, sidefill arrays were also required. Twelve more MILO loudspeakers were split left and right and hung from the stage trussing, facing 75 degrees outward from the main arrays. To ensure that the side areas would hear the same pristine sound as the center seats, three 700-HP ultrahigh-power subwoofers were placed strategically in the left and right side stage areas, while a pair of UPA-1P compact wide-coverage loudspeakers on each side handled outer front-fill duty.
The entire system was tuned using a SIM 3 audio analyzer, which received signals from eight Josephson microphones placed strategically around the venue.
“The Oceania team worked tirelessly to accommodate the exacting standards required of a high-quality classical event,” Pellowe says. “My co-pilot throughout the tour, systems engineer Mike Smeaton, also did a great job. By the start of our first show, he and his colleagues had learned exactly how the MILO system needed to sound for our show and, with their help, we reproduced that sound throughout the tour—by far the hardest trick of all when you’re going from indoor to outdoor shows.”
Pellowe mixed the show using 40 Schoeps microphones (20 CMC5/MK4s and 20 CMC5/MK21s) through a Yamaha PM5D digital console, aided by Lexicon 480L and TC Electronic System 6000 digital effects systems. Onstage, monitoring duty for Pavarotti was handled through a set of Sennheiser SR-300-G2 in-ear monitors. A pair of Meyer Sound UM-1P narrow-coverage stage monitors served Simona Todora and acted as the backup system for Pavarotti. The Auckland Philharmonia orchestra received their entire mix through a stereo pair of MSL-4 horn-loaded long-throw loudspeakers, flown left and right in side-fill positions.