Cirque du Soleil

ZioGiorgio is on the road again, this time to have a look at the “engine” that gives life to one of the most amazing shows of this time: Delirium, by Cirque du Soleil.

Have you ever been to the circus? I think so, all of us has had such an experience once in his or her life at least.
The last time I went to a circus I was still a child. I had a really great time with Mum and Dad watching a somewhat “poor” show from a technical (and probably artistic)perspective, that nevertheless seemed wonderful to a young country boy.

Today my opinion would be clearly different… However, I really longed to feel those emotions again, or try to feel them at least, but as you know our job often overwhelms us with lots of engagements, so I had to delay.

As we all know, however, the best opportunities come when we don’t expect them… A telephone call from the Main Editorial Office of ZioGiorgio announces me the opportunity to watch a show by Cirque du Soleil in Turin, Italy, and have a chat with the technicians … great!
I instantly accept.

After a couple of e-mails with Ms.Cleo Vo-Dai (publicist for CdS) and a road hitch, I succeed in reaching the Palaolimpico venue at 20 o’ clock on Monday 17th March.

The organization is flawless, everybody is really kind, even the security staff at the backstage; although the show is just one hour away and everybody is rather busy, no tension can be felt: real professionals, no doubt.

The first person I am introduced to by Cleo is the sound engineer, Renato Petruziello (Italian origins?), whom we meet at the FOH console; first positive note, he speaks a little Italian and he is very friendly. Renato starts describing the PA, MICA line array system by Meyer Sound, set up in 4 cluster of 16 units forming two L-R systems, to which 8 700HP cabinets, 8 M3D-Sub, 8 M1D, and some CQ1, UPA-1P and UPA-2P are added; everything is branded Meyer Sound.
The MICA system was chosen because of its greater versatility compared with the Milo system, as this production moves to venues sometimes characterized by different needs.
Renato is very satisfied with the sound of the PA (perfectly calibrated by the PA man) and also with the acoustics of Palaolimpico, in spite of the many Plexiglas barriers installed, which however don’t disturb their job.
Both the FOH and the monitor desks are Yamaha PM1Ds; at this point I feel rather forced to ask the “classic” question: “Do you prefer working on analog or digital consoles?” The answer is predictable but absolutely sensible: digital desks are more useful in shows like this one, as you can automate, store and recall scenes, etc., whereas as regards sound quality Renato still prefers a good old analog Midas console (opinion that I totally support). To this purpose, we see that the FOH rack house some Midas XL-42 preamps and some Empirical Labs Distressors, which always give a “sense of safety”.

The second positive surprise is the presence of a live band (there also some recorded material, but mainly special effects and some loops). The band consists in six musicians (drums, percussions, bass guitar, electric guitar, keyboards, trumpet); there are also six signers; the microphones are Shure, Sennheiser, Audio-Technica and Neumann.

All the artists use IEM monitors by Sennheiser and Shure both as “standard IEM” and for technical communications during the show.

It was a real pleasure to talk to Renato (two sound engineers always get on well!), but time is running out and Cleo takes me to Nico Labbe, the Lighting Director.

The “lighting world” is not my daily bread, so I ask Nico to give me a simple description of the rig being used in the show.

Moving head projectors and LEDs are everywhere: 120 Vari-Lite projectors (VL 3500, VL 3000, VL 2500) and some Martin MAC 500, to which various products by Chroma-Q, Robert Juliat, Icolor Cove MX and Color Block DB4 by Color Kinetics are added.

Nico controls the whole rig from two GrandMA consoles; the show is rather complex, nevertheless there are very few effects in sync with the timecode, everything is controlled manually by Nico… amazing.

We have just a couple of minutes to have a chat with the stage manager, Russell Glen, who gives me a brief description of the stage structure, which includes a motor trusses, some rails to move stage elements and screens, and a space under the stage , to which they have given the nickname of Underworld, that serves a lot of purposes, like allowing the artists to “pop” on the stage from four trapdoors.

It’s almost 9 o’ clock, the show is about to start, so I thank Russell and Cleo and leave them to their jobs.
The show is far beyond my expectations: the production is perfect, the artists are wonderful, the storyboard is intriguing, the audio quality is top-of-the-line, the lights and videos are extremely detailed and designed with great taste…

Words can’t do justice to such an experience, neither artistically nor technically, so I can just advise all of you to buy a ticket for the next tour of Cirque du Soleil – it will be a night to remember.

Alex Panella
ZioGiorgio Staff

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