The Scoring Stage at Marin County's Skywalker Sound recently hosted sessions for the cast recording of Baz Luhrmann's La Boheme. Produced by David Frost and engineered by Shawn Murphy for Dreamworks Records, the recording featured the entire cast for the new production, directed by Luhrmann, which previewed in San Francisco before opening on Broadway this month.
More than 60 musicians, plus La Boheme's principals and chorus, fit comfortably in Skywalker's large scoring room, but because the studio was in the midst of installing a new Neve 88R (shipped direct from the AES show floor), Frost and Murphy had to set up a temporary control room in the artist's lounge area. Working with editors Bob Wolff and T.J. Lingren, Murphy recorded direct to 64 tracks of Pro Tools|HD at 24-bit/88.2 kHz, monitoring on a Yamaha DM2000, provided by DMT Rentals, and a Sony DMX-R100, provided by Sony Music Studios, New York. All A/D conversion was via dB Technologies dB-4496 Blue Series converters, and Murphy monitored on Skywalker's B&W Nautilus 802s powered by Chord amplifiers.
The extensive microphone setup included both a Decca Tree (3x Neumann M50s) with outriggers (2x AKG C-12s) and, for additional “bite” if necessary, DPA 4060 clip-on mics for each of the string instruments, which were premixed via Studer analog consoles. Murphy also selected Neumann M49s and M149s for each of the principal singers, and arrayed a range of Schoeps MK4s and Sennheiser MKH40s, Neumann U67s and U47s, plus Royer and AEA 44 BX ribbons as spot mics. The chorus was captured with Schoeps MK21s and MK2Hs, and the seven-piece Banda, which had an offstage cue, carried wireless Neumann/Sennheiser SKM 140/43 models. Preamps included models by Grace, Millennia Media, Avalon, GML, SonoSax and Boulder.
“While a challenging project to do, given the state of our control room, La Boheme proved to be a fantastic experience for the technical and recording staff,” commented Skywalker director of music recording and scoring Leslie Ann Jones. “The Skywalker scoring crew and the Sony Music Studios crew worked together to support Shawn Murphy and David Frost, and the results were quite spectacular. I'm looking forward to hearing the CD.”
Skywalker's Dann Thompson assisted, along with Judy Kirschner and Andre Zweers. Technical assistance was provided by Skywalker's Clayton Wood and Sony's Mark Betts for the week's worth of recording sessions.