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World’s first full-staged drive-in opera wows audiences at Ally Pally

Live event specialists ADI provided a complete event production solution

The world’s first fully staged drive-in opera, ENO (English National Opera) Drive & Live, took place at Alexandra Palace September 19-27, with live event specialists ADI providing a complete event production solution incorporating staging, structures, LED screens, lighting, OB and cameras.

The ambitious outdoor project, with 16 live performances of Puccini’s La Bohème taking place in a car park outside the iconic Ally Pally, provided UK audiences with live opera for the first time since March. ENO would usually hold opera concerts in its natural home, The London Coliseum, so this was something of a challenge.

However, despite the creative and technical challenges of delivering fully-staged performances outside of their usual venue, ENO in partnership with ADI achieved the huge feat of transforming a car park into a fully-featured outdoor theatre on a vast scale. Performances took place both on stage and on the ground in order to put opera fans at the heart of the action. The production was also broadcast live on Sky Arts on September 23rd.

ADI worked closely with ENO to design and build a raised stage solution featuring high resolution 4.6mm 45sqm LED screens on the wings to offer coverage for up to 100 vehicles. They explored a number of options for sound delivery, eventually settling on the traditional drive-in solution of delivering over radio signal to individual cars.  This was supported by an onsite 5.1 audio system which covered the whole car park.

“It was clear from the outset that ADI understood what we wanted to achieve, and they were both enthusiastic and knowledgeable in their support for ENO making this tremendous statement for the live arts sector,” commented Matt Noddings, English National Opera’s Technical Director.

“Moving production from the London Coliseum to a car park could have been quite daunting, but thankfully that wasn’t the case! The ADI team have been brilliant to work with and helped make a challenging concept achievable and seamless for ENO, culminating in spectacular live performances that were incredibly well received by audiences, media and the wider industry.”

Harj Virdee, ADI Business Development Manager added: “In spite of the current landscape for the Arts and live events sector it’s fantastic to help bring a world-first project to life, and to do so with such a respected company like ENO. ADI’s outdoor event and technical expertise has helped achieve ENO’s creative vision and bring the joy of live opera back to UK audiences at such a critical time. We’ve been able to support them by taking the role of technical production partner to deliver an all-encompassing solution across multiple elements of the event, and we’re thrilled it’s created a resounding success for ENO.”