State-of-the-art technology for the Salzburg Festival opera houses

The Salzburg Festival is considered the world’s finest drama and classical music festival. Siemens has equipped the specially built opera houses with state-of-the-art technology with advanced systems to ensure the perfect balance of comfort, safety and security. Founded in 1920 by theatre director and producer Max Reinhardt, the Salzburg Festival has grown into a cultural event of international stature. Today nearly 260,000 visitors attend the 14 performance venues where over 200 events take place each year.

Cutting-edge technology ensures utmost comfort, maximum safety and security, as well as first-class acoustics. The facilities are equipped with building automation, sound systems, stage management consoles, fire detection technology, access control and evacuation systems.

Advanced fire safety and access control

The fire detection system delivers maximum safety. Over 1,800 detectors monitor the many different areas throughout the festival halls. Linear detectors, flame detectors and smoke extraction systems offer high level protection of the audience and stage areas. Festival managers also have the advantage of central control and an integrated guard tour system. In an emergency, everyone on site is given clear instructions via a voice alarm system on how to exit the building safely and securely.

A Siport access control system ensures that only authorised personnel gain access to the secure areas of the festival halls. Approximately 7,000 photo ID cards are issued across the site every Summer across the workforce to personnel such as performers, stage technicians and administrative staff. The photo ID cards cannot be counterfeited as a special security overlay with holographic printing prevents tampering. The same card is also used for time and attendance and cashless vending in the cafeteria.

Perfect sound and safety

The stage manager is in charge of the overall coordination at the Festival. This includes a wide range of procedures such as monitoring the action on stage, alerting performers in their dressing room and issuing light signals. During the performance, all the threads converge on a specially designed stage manager console, complete with touch screen for maximum ease of use. Cameras enable the stage manager to monitor the stage area and other key locations.

In an emergency, the stage manager can contact the relevant services and first responders as well as organise safe evacuation over the public address system. More than 300 loudspeaker circuits were installed for these tasks in the Mozart House and the Felsenreitschule alone. The Great Festival Hall is still being modernised, however once the work is finalised, approximately 400 loudspeaker circuits will ensure smooth operations in this one venue.

A digital network was set up to improve the acoustics in the festival halls. The sound systems and all the required components for the stage and audience arena were also provided by Siemens. Fibre-optic cables transmit all the audio data and control information digitally to the three venues. The system uses a digital time division multiplex process. Each one of the base units used has an audio data bus with 256 time slots, which carry 256 signals simultaneously. Computer-controlled loudspeakers and equalisers ensure that every audience member hears the sound not only at the same time but at the same quality. The system is self-diagnostic and as soon as a malfunction occurs, it sends relevant information to the appropriate personnel.

The right climate

Precise control of the interior temperature and humidity is particularly important in a festival hall, so that both audiences and artists can experience the performance in comfort. To achieve this objective, Siemens designed a sophisticated climate control system using natural resources. The Alm River flows under the city of Salzburg and cold water is rerouted underneath the Great Festival Hall and used for air conditioning to maintain a temperature of 23 degrees Celsius and a humidity of 55 per cent in the concert hall. This automation system also controls ventilation and delivers fresh air to the concert halls continuously and quietly. A management station monitors more than 6,000 data points and will report the slightest disruption or deviation from the specified values to ensure continuity.

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