Named "one of the best opera companies in the world" by Esquiremagazine, the Lyric Opera of Chicago presented an American contribution to the operatic stage at the close of its season—Show Boat. To properly present Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's seminal masterpiece that was first performed in 1927, Lyric Opera chose a large complement of sound reinforcement equipment from Meyer Sound.
"As a company, we're not just doing the great works of European culture but also the great works of American culture," explains Drew Landmesser, production and technical director for Lyric Opera of Chicago. "This is a 3,600-plus-seat house, a huge hall to be doing a musical. To get everyone's diction—their song and spoken words—and to be as crisp and clear as possible in a house this size is quite a challenge."
With a long tradition of natural acoustics, amplified sound represents a significant departure for the company. "It's a deep auditorium," Landmesser illustrates, "and we do not want the sound from our speaker system to be slapping the walls and coming back as unwanted reflections. Where we're focusing that and how we're using it is a matter of great precision."
To meet its exacting needs, the Lyric Opera selected a Meyer Sound system comprised of 10 M2D line array loudspeakers, 16 MM-4XP self-powered loudspeakers, two CQ-1 loudspeakers, one 700-HP subwoofer, a Galileo loudspeaker management system, and two MPS-488HPe power supply units.
"One of the things that Meyer has been especially important in is trying to maintain the natural acoustic sound," Landmesser says. "The line arrays are such an elegant solution for getting a lot of sound into the house yet really being precise about where that sound is going. Without a doubt, this has been some of the best sound we've had in our auditorium."
Chicago-based sales, rental, and live events company TC Furlong provided the Meyer Sound package for the Lyric Opera. "It's our go-to loudspeaker," says Jeff Cech, general manager at TC Furlong. "We've been a Meyer Sound dealer for 18 years. Meyer is also the primary loudspeaker brand in our rental department and live event business.
"John and Helen [Meyer] have such a dedication to consistency and quality," Cech adds. "It's so important when you're putting multiple loudspeakers next to one another that they all sound exactly the same, and I don't think Meyer has any peer. They stock deeply—the parts are always available. And the seminars that they do all over the world, which we've participated in and hosted, are amazing. We just don't find that whole range of support with other manufacturers."