Bocelli in the lap of luxury

Story: Kate Lyon

Photos: Steve Moles

Often referred to as one of the foremost ‘cross-over’ tenors of his generation, Andrea Bocelli is equally at home dueting with the likes of Celine Dion as with his fondly remembered mentor, Pavarotti.  His concert locations are equally diverse as his long time FoH engineer, Andrea Taglia, explains, “It’s not just public concerts, there are many one-off performances at TV shows, private appearances and unusual venues in far flung locations. Try explaining the technical aspects of your audio requirements to someone at say, an art gallery where he is performing a private function and you soon imagine how difficult that can be.  So having a Britrow crew and system, even for a few days, is a real luxury.”

It is indeed Britannia Row Productions that has provided the audio system for Bocelli’s latest brief run of UK tour dates.  The system is all L’Acoustics K2, long hangs of L/R mains, with side hangs also of K2, and then Kara out at the FoH position for delay up to the distant rear seats.  The main hangs are almost flat excepting the three bottom cabinets and a not dissimilar curve to the side hangs.

Taglia clarifies his choices, “The advantage of the K2 for me is that it is pretty light and so I can have long arrays. It’s not such an issue here, but we do find weight restrictions in the venues we play in the US. For stadiums we use K1 of course, where weight is not an issue. With long arrays what I am most interested in is low frequency control; that’s an absolute priority as we have so many microphones on stage. The combination of the long array, and an arc array of Subs across the front of stage gives me control down to 16Hz.”

There are fourteen subs in the array, spread across eighteen metres. Naturally, he does have front fill to give some lift for the early rows and in fact pays this zone a good deal of attention, with fills off to the sides on small towers to put loudspeakers at three to four meters above the arena floor. “The system is delayed to the central conductor’s position. As much as possible I want the  audience to be able to forget they are listening to a system.”

Taglia is usually looking after at least 65 musicians, 60 choir singers and generally up to three or four guest singers and soloists not to mention Bocelli himself.  With that number of sources, careful, intelligent and sometimes imaginative microphone placement is something of a dark art, greatly appreciated by Taglia himself, “Lucy MacKinnon and Stefan Krista from Britrow look after the microphones and do a fantastic job; it’s extremely time consuming and needs great attention to detail in the positioning. They are greatly missed when we go to one offs in other territories!”

On stage, there is no monitoring other than for the solo voices, “The summing of the system to the central conductor makes a huge difference to what the musicians hear on stage. The only reason we have the wedges for Andrea and guest is that some, especially the pop guests, are used to more level on stage. Both solo voice mics are Schoeps Mk21 Sub-cardioid. Andrea has L/C/R Meyer UM1-P wedges; for the two songs where we use a little backing track this is fed to the L and R; the centre is his voice. Any guest has a pair of wedges.”

The combination of L-Acoustics K2s, Taglia’s FoH skills and, of course, Bocelli himself produce a quality of sound that is almost a given but the human element remains the key as production manager, John Gibbon concludes, “To be spoiled by the likes of Britrow is a joy; despite this being barely a one week hire, they have treated us as if it was at least a full-on couple of months’ tour.”