Hell in the Cave

The Grotte di Castellana is the ambitious setting for Hell in the Cave, anguished residents of the tragic underworld in Dante’s epic poem Inferno. Rather than using a single stage, the show brings the audience through scenes in separate subterranean grottoes – a particularly hostile environment for the sound system.

Sound designer Giuseppe Saponari chose a reinforcement system of 14 Meyer Sound active loudspeakers for the Italian production: ‘The biggest challenge inside the cave is the humidity, which is always close to 90 per cent, combined with rapid temperature changes that result from the large opening in the roof,’ explains Giuseppe Saponari, President of Officina Musicale.

‘Yet despite such harsh atmospheric conditions, the Meyer Sound loudspeakers are performing perfectly.’

The actors’ recitations and dancers’ movements are supported by a recorded soundtrack, created by Giuseppe Mariani and Paolo Iannattone, and heard through the Meyer Sound system. The setting is broken into six zones. As visitors first descend through a tunnel, they pass through a talking doorway where three MM-4XP self-powered miniature loudspeakers announce entry into the ‘woeful city’. Progressing from one scene to the next, the audience hears five more discrete audio programmes: three in mono, one in stereo, and the final scene in discrete LCR. Together, the five zones use 11 UPM-1P loudspeakers.

‘We were surprised how easy it was to translate our ideas from the studio into the field,’ says Saponari. ‘We worked on problematic frequencies typical of the cave, but we quickly achieved ideal intelligibility. Thanks to Meyer Sound speakers, we soon had big smiles on our faces.’

The loudspeaker system was designed by Giovanni Bugari of Grisby Music, Meyer Sound’s Italian distributor, and supplied by Casa Musicale Luisi. The front end of the system, devised by Saponari, comprises a computer workstation (Apple MacBook running Logic 9.0 with a MOTU 828mkII interface) coupled to an Allen & Heath iLive digital mixing system.

‘We’ve completed our first month of performances and all the comments have been positive, both for the audio quality and the spatialisation effects of our sound design,’ Saponari reports. ‘We are long-time users of Meyer Sound, and we appreciate the quality, reliability, and adaptability of the products. In this case, they help us to deliver a complete Dante experience, and that was the main goal of the production.’

Hell in the Cave’s staging of Inferno – the first canto of Dante’s Divine Comedy – is directed by Enrico Romita and choreographed by Mimmo Iannone. Featuring a cast of 50 actors and dancers, the production is a collaboration of Promo Apulia, Castellana Council, and the Grotte di Castellana, with support from the Puglia (Apulia) Region, Province of Bari, and Trulli Coast. More than 100 performances are anticipated seasonally through 2011 and 2012.

More: www.meyersound.com
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