DPA Microphones Spends a Night at the Opera


Company’s 4017 Shotgun Microphones Chosen by Giacomo De Caterini to ensure discreet audio capture for important DVD recordings of two Roman operas

Last Updated: May 23, 2013 5:48 pm GMT
(Rome, Italy--May 23, 2013) The sound team at the Parco Della Musica Auditorium in Rome recently selected DPA Microphones’ Reference Standard 4017 Shotgun Microphones to record the audio for a specially commissioned double DVD of two operas that were being performed as part of the Santa Cecilia Opera Studio, a master programme devoted to Bel Canto. With high quality, discreet audio set as prerequisites from the director (no microphones were to be seen in the video footage), sound engineer Giacomo De Caterini initially struggled to comply with the director’s instruction.

“The director wanted to avoid the visibility of the microphones because he was determined to maintain strict focus on the performers,” says De Caterini. “Due to bad experiences in the past, especially on video productions where close-up shots revealed poorly concealed microphones dangling from the singers’ wigs, he was very keen not to have any microphones on the singers’ heads. This ruled out the use of miniature microphones such as the DPA 4061s, which we had initially considered.”

To add to De Caterini’s difficulties, some of the backgrounds were being video projected, which meant that microphones hanging from the ceiling were also out of the question. “I was quite worried because the only option left was to use shotgun microphones positioned on the edge of the proscenium,” he continues. “I realized this would only work if we had a sufficient quantity strategically placed to properly capture the audio.”

Luckily, Salvatore Zocco, product manager at DPA’s Italian distributor M. Casale Bauer, had a solution. He loaned De Caterini some DPA Reference Standard 4017 Shotgun Microphones and suggested he try them.

“Although I expected the high-quality sound and trustworthiness that inevitably comes with DPA microphones, what I did not expect was the ability of these microphones to deliver a sound unlike any other shotgun I have ever tried,” De Caterini explains. “They were much more akin to a pair of traditional cardioids, and with the amazing ability to behave more like ‘wide cannons’ than strict shotguns. In other words, instead of the typically colored audio that becomes almost unusable as soon as the pickup is slightly off-axis, these microphones delivered great audio that required minimal tweaks and remained readable and clean, even when picking up vocalists who were right as the back of the stage. Thanks to their new, dedicated preamps, the mics also delivered lower noise than any other shotgun mic I hadtried. Ultimately, what set them apart was something you certainly don't expect from shotguns: sheer musicality.”

The two operas recorded for this DVD project were Ravel’s “L’Heure Espagnole” and Puccini's “Gianni Schicchi.” Both were performed in the Petrassi Hall, which has roughly 700 seats and is the smallest of the three halls that form the Parco Della Musica Auditorium complex. The double DVD production was co-produced by the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Infocamere, the IT company for the Italian Chamber of Commerce. It is being distributed as a special gift to major Chambers of Commerce clients. After completing the recordings for the DVDs, De Caterini was so impressed with the performance of the DPA 4017 Shotgun Microphones that he refused to return them to M. Casale Bauer.

“They were definitely a keeper,” he says. “They have now joined the Auditorium’s stock of DPAs. I’ve used a lot of DPA in the past, and B&K before them. I love all the classics like the 4006, 4015, 4011 etc., and I also use the DPA Miniature Microphones for live work. I especially like the brilliant d:vote™ 4099 Instrument Microphones and the 4021 Compact Cardioid Microphones, which I consider to be the most treasured tools of my trade.”

Recently, De Caterini had the opportunity to use a pair of DPA 4041s (running at 130V with the dedicated preamp) and was completely blown away by their performance. “They combine the best features of DPA’s classic omnis with the low/mid ability that has previously been the trademark of DPA’s competitors. Using them for the first time provided me with a rare moment of illumination – not to mention an almost irrepressible urge to reach for my wallet!”

Since completing the opera DVD project, De Caterini has been working on a number of other high profile recordings including engineering and post-producing a CD of Verdi’s music for EMI Classics, which features the Orchestra di Santa Cecilia with Sir Antonio Pappano.

DPA Microphones A/S is the leading Danish Professional Audio manufacturer of high quality condenser microphones and microphone solutions for professional applications in studio, broadcast, theatre, video/film and sound reinforcement environments. All DPA microphones and components are manufactured at the company’s purpose-built factory in Denmark.

For more information on DPA Microphones, please visit http://www.dpamicrophones.com


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