Cirque du Soleil has reopened its enthralling spectacle, LUZIA - A Waking Dream of Mexico, at London’s Royal Albert Hall for a seven week run. The show transports audiences to an imaginary Mexico where light quenches the spirit and rain soothes the soul.
With a combination of grand visual surprises and breath-taking acrobatic performances, LUZIA brings the places, faces, and sounds of Mexico to the stage, taking its lead from the country’s extraordinary mix of influences and creative collisions.
Alongside a host of carefully chosen suppliers, live audio rental specialist Britannia Row Productions was brought in to ensure that the sound design in London could match the huge variety of visually striking performance routines that appear on stage.
Since 2007, Freelance Sound System Engineer & Designer, Sergiy Zhytnikov, has worked on a wide range of Cirque du Soleil (CDS) shows at the iconic London venue, ensuring that every audio system is as unique and impactful as the spectacular productions themselves.
“Every show has its own live band with lots of different musicians and instruments,” says Zhytnikov. “Moreover, CDS designs and runs every show as a multichannel system, including lots of effects going through different channels of the main PA and others through a surround system. It means that the audience don’t just watch the show, they feel like they are part of it.”
To accomplish LUZIA’s perfect audible outcome, an L-Acoustics KARA II system was set up ‘in-the-round’, with a KS21 subwoofer system in the centre. Extra fills of L-Acoustics A15 were also installed at specific locations where the seat positions made even coverage potentially difficult to achieve.
“The logic behind the system placement was to ensure the best possible coverage, with smooth SPL distributed across the whole audience,” adds Zhytnikov. “In addition, we had to accommodate the CDS rigging structure, which is very complicated with lots of flown trusses supported by guy-wire all the way around to ensure the tension is solid.”
He continues: “The KARA II is a great PA system for this type of show, in terms of the size of the box, the SPL it produces, and the horizontal range it covers. Its variable horizontal dispersion was especially helpful for the floor fill system, as it allowed me to make the horizontal dispersion narrow enough to target the audience more precisely.
“We also used the new KS21 sub, which is a very efficient and impressive unit considering its compact enclosure. The SPL was much higher in comparison to the subs we used previously, and the faster response produced a nice, ‘punchy’ sound.”
The audio crew put everything into a 3D CAD model and ran the proposed system through L-Acoustics’ Soundvision software, allowing it to simulate sound pressure and coverage to find the best speaker placement for the room.
During this process, Zhytnikov received support from the CDS sound department to understand the show’s particular needs, while the Britannia Row’s ops team, led by Director, Lez Dwight, made sure the specified gear was available, in perfect running order, and delivered on site with the best audio techs in tow.
“Britannia Row did an excellent job in prepping and delivering all of the equipment on time, as well as finding the right crew to help rig the PA,” says Zhytnikov. “The installation period itself was very fast, as everything was labelled and tested at the warehouse beforehand.”
Matt Steuart, Sound Specialist for Cirque du Soleil, comments: “Throughout the entire project, Brit Row’s impeccable attention to detail, care, and quality has been second to none. Putting a Cirque show in the Royal Albert Hall always presents several unique audio challenges and each year Brit Row somehow manages to not only find solutions to those challenges, but simultaneously improve upon the previous year. There really is no one better! This year we were also excited to use the new L-Acoustics KARA II speakers alongside the impressive KS21 subwoofers and A15s.”
Gerard Edwards-Webb, Director of Show Support for Cirque du Soleil, adds: “Continuing the decades-long relationship between Cirque du Soleil and Britannia Row, they have once again delivered an incredible-sounding PA system, tuned to perfection and installed by a collaborative and knowledgeable team. Alongside this, their level of service and support exceeded expectations as they assisted us with some very last-minute backline cabling issues completely outside their scope.”
Britannia Row Director, Lez Dwight, concludes: “It’s really wonderful to be back in the Royal Albert Hall with our good friends at Cirque du Soleil to celebrate their 25th anniversary with the venue. Having audiences back in this historical room and experiencing world class live sound is what we thrive on!”
Photo courtesy of Cirque du Soleil – Matt Beard