For its annual free community concert, the Madison (Wis.) Opera Company staged “Opera in the Park” using, for the first time, a sound reinforcement system. Supplied, set up, and engineered by Barrington, Ill.-based Bag End Loudspeaker through its dealer Full Compass, Middleton, Wis., the system provided concert-quality sound for the performance by the Madison Symphony Orchestra, under Steve White's direction, and the Madison Opera chorus, including Paula Delligatti, soprano; Angela Horn, mezzo; Andrew Richards, tenor; and Thomas Barrett, baritone. An estimated 5,000 concertgoers attended the event in Madison's Garner Park.

”With a concert-quality sound system and national touring- quality staging and lighting to enhance the experience, ‘Opera in the Park’ provided the kind of setting that really showcased the great young talent that performed,” says Ann Stanke, general director of Madison Opera. “And for the audience, young and old, it was an evening they will not soon forget.”

Henry Heine, Bag End's director of engineering, research, and development, supervised the setup and operation of the sound system. “Despite the fact that the event was in an outdoor setting on a grassy hillside, we wanted to provide the best system we knew how to put together,” Heine says. “It not only had to cover a widely scattered audience but because of the nature of program, it had to perform very well musically as well. And judging from the audience reaction, we accomplished that goal.”

Heine and his crew used six Crystal mid-range, high-output speaker systems flown in a stereo array for the main speaker arrays. They augmented those with four Opal high-output delay signal speakers on towers. For the bottom end, three Quartz, quad-18 high-output subwoofers were used. “That's a total of 12 18in. subwoofers pumping out bass — enough fire power for a stadium,” says Heine.

Heine also used four Bag End Sapphire speaker systems as floor monitors and mixed the system on a Tascam DM24 mixing console. Also included in the system was a mix of Full Compass studio-quality microphones.

A major portion of the $100,000 price tag for “Opera in the Park” was underwritten by Bette J. Birkhauser in honor of her late husband Robert R. Birkhauser, founder of Madison-based Auto Glass Specialists.


Send potential submissions for the CenterStage column to Michael Goldman, SRO senior editor, at mgoldman@primediabusiness.com.