Outside, the architecture of the Teatr Wielki w Poznaniu (Poznań Opera House) makes it much more than merely an entertainment venue in Poland’s fifth largest city. Inside, the 900-capacity venue made extensive technological updates, including installing the world’s first L-Acoustics Ambiance Active Acoustics system in an opera house.

Pozna%u0144 Opera HouseAs a result, the Teatr Wielki w Poznaniu has evolved into a multipurpose venue, able to accommodate a diverse range of events, from educational activities and classic opera performances to contemporary stage productions.

The venue represents more than 100 years of the opera scene in Poznań, and prides itself on a repertoire that includes opera and ballet classics, as well as contemporary compositions, current theatre productions, and cooperation with renowned directors, conductors, set designers, choreographers and soloists.

The renovation began in 2021 and includes a new hydraulic stage, acoustic refinement, and the installation of L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal technology and L-Acoustics Ambiance Active Acoustics. Warsaw-based L-Acoustics Certified Provider Audio Plus handled the design of the sound system, prioritising audience coverage and its adaptability for a diverse offering of content, while preserving the architectural integrity of the venue.

Audio Plus has a solid foundation of successful collaborations with L-Acoustics, including an L-ISA installation in the award-winning Cavatina Hall, which was the venue that caught the ear of the Grand Theater team.

As a historically classified building, acoustical treatment that impacts on the architecture is forbidden. Working to overcome this challenge, Audio Plus collaborated with L-Acoustics to propose a solution based on Ambiance Active Acoustics, which would give the theatre both immersive sound reinforcement, and the ability to adapt its acoustics to match the performance, whether classical, opera or modern music.

The design bagan with a 360° L-ISA audio configuration to provide the audience with a natural, immersive audio experience. This comprises a 5.1 system spread across the proscenium with additional 62 loudspeakers around the side and rear walls, as well as under the balcony. Loudspeakers intended for on-wall mounting have been custom coloured in burgundy, while those mounted on or under the pristine white balconies were provided in a matching white. Twelve loudspeakers are hidden behind acoustically transparent white grilles set into the ceiling, and two further loudspeakers are tucked away inside the theatre’s massive chandelier.

Adding Ambiance Active Acoustics to the immersive sound set-up allows the theatre to cater for different shows, adapting to the venue’s acoustic. To accomplish this, 11 small microphones are hidden in the ceiling – three of these in the chandelier – allowing the Ambiance Active Acoustics system feed sound back through a further 20 speakers hidden in the theatre. Delay and reverberation over the spectrum of early to late reflections are added to the natural room response as needed to create the ambiance – a cathedral, an intimate music venue or just the natural sound of an opera house.

Poznań Opera HouseFive further microphones are positioned on the stage to collect sound from the artists and feed it back to them through stage monitors giving the comfort and confidence to perform at their best.

‘The challenge was to install the sound system in such a way that it provided exceptional sound coverage, while ensuring minimal visual and spatial impact,’ explains Piotr Kozłowski, Acoustician and owner of Pracownia Akustyczna Kozłowski, who was responsible for the stage and audience acoustic design. ‘This was achieved by hiding the elevation speakers in the ceiling, while finishing the front and side speakers in burgundy to blend with the décor.’

The acoustic in the venue was already outstanding but now, with Ambiance Active Acoustics, it is even better, and the opera house has also gained the ability to be a multifunctional auditorium – achieved without resorting to heavy curtains or acoustic panels, which can be costly and challenging to install and lack in flexibility.

‘This venue was built 110 years ago, when there were no sound reinforcement systems, and many of the productions that we mount are also from that era and don’t require sound reinforcement,’ says Krystian Kołakowski, Head of Sound and Projection Team at Poznań Opera House. ‘Our goal is to preserve the traditional sound of the facility, which is very good. Yet developments in technology allow us to adopt tools like Ambiance that expand our creative capacities, and that’s a good thing.’

‘At the Poznań Opera House, we cherish the traditional sound of the venue,’ adds,’ comments Sylwester Wojcieszek, Director of the Audio Plus design department. ‘We’ve chosen to adopt modern technology that allows the theatre’s audio engineers to sculpt the orchestra’s sound to ensure a consistent and immersive audio experience for the entire audience. Thanks to L-ISA technology and the Ambiance acoustic system, we can easily deliver an immersive sound experience that is tailored to each performance, placing the audience at the heart of each event.’

‘We are very happy that there is now a new home for music lovers here in Poland,’ says Piotr Kozłowski. ‘It’s a place where one can indulge in rich audio and experience extraordinarily authentic surround sound. It’s a venue where artists deliver their finest performances. In the Poznań Opera House, musicians beam with joy, the conductor expresses satisfaction, and all elements harmoniously align. This transformation was certainly worth the wait.’

‘At the Poznań Opera House we like to say that opera has meaning,’ says Poznań Opera House General Director, Renata Borowska-Juszczyńska. ‘In order for it to continue to have meaning, it must respond to the needs of future generations. This can’t be done without thinking about new technologies. At the Poznań Opera House, we’re constantly asking how we can lead, and with which partners, in order to maintain the status of art today. This is one of our main goals.’

More: www.l-acoustics.com

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