Tech update for the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden
SALZBRENNER media provides Europe’s most renowned opera and concert venue with state-of-the-art sound and video technology.
Since its opening in 1998, the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, with capacity for up to 2,500 guests, has been one of the most important and versatile cultural institutions in the field of orchestral music and opera. Selected jazz concerts, established gala events such as the Bambi awards and the SWR New Pop Festival also find a home in the spacious and architecturally attractive complex with its integrated old city railway station.
During the venue‘s pandemic-related extended summer break in 2020, the full-service provider SALZBRENNER media was in charge of comprehensive repair and expansion work on the audiovisual infrastructure, which was in need of maintenance and replacement after 20 years of operation. In close cooperation with the commissioned planning office, Walter Kottke from Bayreuth, the team around project manager Kay Rothe developed a comprehensive concept to equip the technical capabilities of the Festspielhaus for current and future requirements. In a first step, large parts of the existing technical installations were dismantled. In addition to providing a better overview of the infrastructure, this approach also offered an ideal solution for routing cables, which is often a challenging task in existing buildings. Since the previous control cabinets were to be retained, the entire cabling along with all basic configurations and adjustments was carried out on site.
Control room and key structures
The versatility of a venue is directly proportional to the flexibility of its main control systems. For this reason, the project team also undertook a complete technical overhaul of the audio control room. In addition to the integration of a modern mixing console and audio distribution system from Yamaha’s Rivage series consisting of two consoles and matching digital routers, the interconnection of all systems was reorganised with brand new fibre-optic and network solutions with a variety of uses in mind. At the same time, SALZBRENNER media equipped the Festspielhaus with a completely custom-built stage management system, which, in addition to low-latency video monitors and first-class audio monitor speakers, also features a high-quality Riedel intercom matrix as well as control options for an integrated cue light and hearing-impaired system.
In spacious locations such as the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, the ability to follow the stage action synchronously at different positions is one of the most critical factors of a successful production. A perfectly orchestrated interaction of cameras, signal distribution and viewing monitors requires not only sophisticated hardware, but also a lot of custom-made solutions with regard to the architectural conditions of a building. For example, a practicable solution for the flexible installation of a conductor’s camera had to be found, since the stand height varies greatly depending on the stage situation. Thanks to the intelligent and economical positioning of the video routers, it was also possible to retain a large part of the existing video cabling without the need for any major modifications.
Stage & Sound
To achieve ideal acoustic coverage in the auditorium, the SALZBRENNER media team relied on a powerful and sonically sophisticated Alcons loudspeaker system, driven by a combination of suitably matched power amplifiers from the manufacturer and additional complementary units from d&b. Installation and mounting of the systems was also carried out almost entirely by means of manually adapted in-house custom products, the production of which was realised in proven cooperation with the metal construction company Schubert. Another highlight was the stage integration of SALZBRENNER media’s easily controllable MIC fly microphone winch system, which impressed both the customer and the expert who had been commissioned to carry out the acceptance test.
With the technical refurbishment of the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, SALZBRENNER media succeeded in implementing a comprehensive package of perfectly interlocking system components, which should ensure the development potential of the venue for decades to come. “We are glad to have found the right partner for the renewal of the technology in our house with SALZBRENNER media. The handling of the project went smoothly and the sound is truly worth listening to!” says Jörg Klasser, Head of Administrative and Facility Management at the Festspielhaus. “We can’t wait to finally start regular performances with the new equipment.”