The Stora Teatern, the classical old opera house by the river in downtown Gothenburg, may have been replaced by a large modern design near the harbour but it has found a new role. It is run by SAMI, the Swedish Artists' and Musicians' Interest organisation which is owned by the Musicians and Actors unions. SAMI has a wide range of creative roles including promotion and training in music, and the legal responsibility for the collection and distribution of fees for mechanical copyright. These premises now act as their facilities for production, rehearsals and performance in Gothenburg.
One of the most recent developments has been the addition of a recording studio whose control room can record from any of the three stages within the building. Original acoustic design work was by Ingemar Olsson and practical installation and supervision handled by Claes Olsson and Mats Larsson of local consultants Audio Support. Substantial building work was required to create a SSL 4000/ Pro Tools HD equipped control room and large musician’s playing area and entailed using two floors to gain the required ceiling height.
Studio monitoring is handled by a pair of Genelec 1038 speakers flush mounted in the control room wall. A full 5.1 surround system based around five 8030 monitors and a 7060 subwoofer has been installed such that it only ‘appears’ when needed. The front three monitors are mounted on a T-bar that rises hydraulically from behind the console, the centre monitor being able to be moved forward or back for equal path length or monitor-in-line, depending on the type of work being undertaken. The rear monitors descend from the ceiling space on mechanical platforms, all under the control of console mounted switches.
The musicians area is lit from ceiling-mounted windows while the acoustics are enhanced by ceiling to floor diffusors alternating with deep red fabric absorbent panels with grating absorbers. The air conditioning pipes are visible on the ceiling but air intake is through large cream canvas ‘socks’ that create an effective yet silent air flow.
Mic lines from all over the building appear in the control room together with multiple camera feeds handled by a router that can be fed to video monitors which is much needed when recording performances several floors away. All these feeds are also available from outside the building so an OB truck can pull up, plug in, and record!
The original theatre has been fully restored with plenty of gold, chandeliers and red velvet but it is a compact and intimate area. The area behind the proscenium arch has been cleared and can be used as a separate performing space, or still in conjunction with the original theatre. Both areas have their own front-of-house mixing consoles and permanent sound reinforcement systems which face in different directions.
The original loading dock at the rear of the building that backs onto this space has also been developed with a small stage, seating and a bar, providing a rock'n'roll vibe in the form of a club. While it wouldn’t possible for all three areas to be used at the same time there is maximum versatility built-in and it has created an extremely flexible and usable performance space.
The mic lines from all three areas appear on a mic splitter rack that provides feeds for the FOH consoles, and for the studio/OB recording. Claes and Mats tell tales of crawling under floors to thread cables between these areas and the studio, in an 150 year old building that just wasn’t built for easy install of large amounts of cabling.
Externally, the Stora Teatern has changed little, its elegant facade remaining an important landmark in the centre of Gothenburg, while inside, this building has entered a new and exciting new phase.