The historic Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, also known as the De Munt Theatre, has upgraded its entire staff communications infrastructure based on intercom equipment from Riedel Communications. Consisting of the Artist digital matrix intercom, Bolero wireless intercom in both integrated and standalone modes, and SmartPanel multifunctional user interfaces, the Riedel solution surpasses the theater's requirements for highly flexible, reliable, high-quality, and future-proof intercom operations.
Located in the heart of Brussels at the Place de la Monnaie, the De Munt Theatre is one of the most prestigious opera houses in the world and the largest in Belgium, with more than 450 employees. Over its 300-year history, the theater has survived a revolution, a fire, and two world wars, as well as the normal passage of time and evolution of technology. The Riedel upgrade was part of a massive renovation project that closed the De Munt Theatre for two years beginning in 2016.
"We had several key requirements for a modern communications system that could meet the needs of our staff and crew. We needed seamless, high-quality coverage of the complete facility. And because of the theater's historic designation, the installation would have to be as unobtrusive as possible with a minimum of antennas," said Karl Ancia, Project Leader, Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie. "Another critical requirement is an integrated intercom solution that works over our IP network and also in standalone mode for performances outside the theater, with wireless support for PCs and mobile devices. Riedel's Bolero has exceeded our expectations on every single count."
The new communications system spans two De Munt Theatre buildings and supports a staff of 180 crew members, including a 90-musician orchestra, set builders, costume and makeup personnel, and support and technical services. Equipped with AES67 cards, an Artist-128 matrix intercom mainframe enables a seamless AES67 connection over the theater's IP network to six rack-mounted 2300 SmartPanels and one desktop 2300 SmartPanel. The SmartPanels enable agile routing and control of all intercom signals transported over the network. In addition, SmartPanel "virtual panel" apps enable up to 56 Mac, PC, Android, or iOS devices to communicate with the system.
The Bolero wireless intercom system, consisting of 48 beltpacks and 12 antennas, is also integrated with the Artist matrix via the AES67 cards. Seven of the antennas are installed permanently to provide full coverage for the entire facility, with four additional antennas available for standalone use at outside performances. Outside broadcaster DB Video has also installed Riedel's Artist on board its OB van for seamless production communications during live streaming of the theater's events.
Bolero's exclusive Advanced DECT Receiver (ADR) technology is a critical element in the installation, given the building's historic status, the thickness of the walls, and the spread-out nature of the facility. With ADR, not only does Bolero provide outstanding reception from every needed location, but it requires fewer antennas for a less intrusive installation.
In the performance hall, the new intercom is a great improvement over the previous static system. With the new system, since the virtual panels can be viewed from offices or a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, users can program intercom configurations of any size and create subgroups as needed. Ambient noise during a performance is no longer a problem since the beltpacks can be programmed to eliminate it. A large advantage in a performance setting, especially for music, is Bolero's extremely low latency – between 35 milliseconds and 38 milliseconds.
Another key feature is Bolero's Bluetooth functionality, which enables users to answer calls from a mobile phone directly via the headset of the beltpack. This makes the intercom system a valuable tool in an emergency situation when outside first responders need to be engaged.
Ancia added, "I installed a Bolero Standalone system with 10 beltpacks in only 30 minutes – a fraction of the time I thought I would need. But not only is Bolero extremely easy to use, its ability to operate in both integrated and standalone modes, plus native IP technology, gives us greater flexibility than ever before. IP networks are the wave of the future for communications and signal transport; therefore, Bolero gives us a future-proof solution."
Kristof Vanden Eynde, Riedel Belgium Sales Manager, commented, "The De Munt Theatre installation is a standout example of everything that is great about Bolero — seamless and crystal-clear communications in a large-scale and challenging environment, the flexibility to configure the intercom from any device, and the versatility to support any type of production, whether on-premises or at a remote location. We are honored that Riedel solutions have played a key role in the modernization of this landmark, historic, and truly stunning theater – one of Belgium's national treasures."