The National Theatre of Saint-Nazaire opts for Innovason
Known simply as “Le Theatre”, the brand new national theatre of Saint-Nazaire on the west coast of France occupies what used to be the old station of Saint-Nazaire. One of 70 national theatres that form part of the network of the French Ministry of Culture, “le Theatre” is an impressive concrete edifice reminiscent of a huge bunker. The outline is softened in places by the imprint of a floral pattern chiseled into the concrete, a theme which is also reflected inside the building. As a national theatre, “le Theatre” had to conform to exacting technical standards, making it an extremely highly specified venue at every level, including of course the audio set-up. Technical director Patrick Balaud had no hesitation in specifying an Innovason Eclipse GT digital console as the FoH console for the main 826-seat theatre, which was supplied by TechnoSolutions of St Nazaire.
According to the general manager, Louis Perennou, there were many factors that worked in the Eclipse’s favour when the final choice had to be made, not least of which was the fact that Eclipse is essentially a French console. “A certain amount of national pride influenced the choice – we felt that it was important to utilize French equipment where possible for one of the premier national stages of France,” confirmed Perennou. “Although Innovason is now owned by a German company, Eclipse is still a French-designed console and importantly, the technical support is French, which helps.”
However, French or not, if the Eclipse GT hadn’t met the stringent standards of “le Theatre” it would not have been selected. As it was, the Eclipse stood out from the crowd when it was tested against competing consoles. “We were particularly struck by the sound quality,” said Perennou. “These days, in the era of all-singing, all-dancing digital boards that deliver so much more functionality and ease of use (especially for complex shows) than old analogue desks ever did, the issue of sound quality is often overlooked, or at least plays second fiddle to other considerations. However, when we first heard the Eclipse GT at work, the exceptional sound quality instantly made the difference for us.”
The other feature that scored points for “le Theatre” was the flexibility of the console. “The fact that you can configure it in any way you want is really quite extraordinary,” continued Perennou. “I’ll admit that it takes a bit of getting used to at first, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it means that you can tailor the console to a particular show, or even to a particular engineer if he is used to working in a certain way. It’s a different methodology than that offered by most digital consoles, but once you’ve got used to it, you don’t want to go back!”