When the Colosseum hosted a live screening of the film, The Gladiator, it was the embodiment of the perfect pairing a performance in the most relevant venue. For one night only, Ridley Scott’s historical epic was screened in HD and accompanied by a live performance of the Hans Zimmer-composed soundtrack, courtesy of conductor Justin Freer and the musicians and choir of the Italian Film Orchestra. Australian vocalist, Lisa Gerrard, who sang on the movie’s soundtrack and served as its co-composer, also added her otherworldly talents to the event; all of which unfolded within the storied ruins of antiquity’s most infamous entertainment venue, the Colosseum. This prestigious event was staged by film score performance specialist CineConcerts, in support of Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign, and attended by stars of the film such as Maximus himself, Russell Crowe, and ‘the eighth king of Rome’; former AS Roma striker Francesco Totti. Such a luminous occasion required a truly world class audio setup; with the gauntlet ultimately being thrown down before technical supplier Planet Service - and the K-array Firenze system. As well as the charity curtain raiser for an exclusive crowd of 300 at the Colosseum on 6 June, a pair of larger events were held on the Friday and Saturday of the same week, around the corner at former chariot racing stadium (and modern-day concert venue), Circo Massimo.
These shows required a scaled-up production across the board, which also meant bringing in kit and crew from K-array itself. The PA system at the Colosseum comprised of 3 Firenze-KH7 line array elements per side as main hangs, 4 Mugello-KS5 subwoofers, 16 Kobra-KK102 loudspeakers as front fill, and 3 sets of Python-KP102 loudspeakers lined down the entrance as left and right delays. There was also a pair of KH7s flown in the middle of the truss, used specifically to project the film’s dialogue. Audio Crew Chief for rental company Planet Service, Alessandro Saudelli, explained: “The major challenge was to have perfect PA coverage without being able to put the cluster in the correct position. The screen was on the back of the stage so we needed to stay as wide as possible with the main left and right hangs, in order to allow the best sight lines. The problem was that the speakers were so wide that they didn’t cover the central corridor adequately, so we added 3 rows of Pythons as delays to cover it with the same precision and quality of the rest of the venue.” - As well as having very little space, the crew also had to deal with the relatively slender load limits that were afforded by the venue’s floor. This surface, which was originally installed to allow visitors to stand atop the labyrinthine bowels of Colosseum, can only support a maximum of 200kg/sqm.
Planet Service’s Emanuele Vischi explained: “We cannot fly a large PA because of these load limits, but the Firenze is very small and perfect for the job. This also helps with manvorability during the load in and setup, which helps when you are essentially working inside a museum!” - The more substantial audio setup required at Circo Massimo meant that K-array was asked to provide supplementary kit, including 24 of its flagship Firenze-KH8 speakers. The full rig at used on the more conventional festival-style stage at Circus Maximus consisted of 12 units of KH8 line array elements per side, 16 Firenze-KS8 subwoofers for low end reinforcement, 6 KH7s split as central left and right hangs, 8 Mugello-KH2 loudspeakers as front fill, and 3 more KH7s per side as delays.