The Salzburg Festival is considered the world’s pre-eminent drama and classical music festival. Now that Siemens has equipped the specially built opera houses with state-of-the-art technology, the festival also ranks at the top in building technology. A sophisticated system ensures the perfect balance of comfort, cutting-edge technology, safety and security.
The Salzburg Festival looks back on a long tradition. Founded in 1920 by theatre director and producer Max Reinhardt, the festival quickly grew into a cultural event of international stature, not least because major artists like Toscanini, Böhm and von Karajan left their mark on its history. Today nearly 260,000 visitors attend one of the over 200 events of the Salzburg Festival each year. There are 14 performance venues, three of which were built between 1925 and 1960 specifically for the Festival: the Mozart House, the Felsenreitschule riding academy and the Great Festival Hall. However, perfect musical and dramatic performances require more than just outstanding artists and breath-taking ambience.
For this reason, the current building technology in these three venues comes from Siemens, thereby creating perfect places: Perfectly balanced, cutting-edge technology ensures utmost comfort, maximum safety and security and first-class
acoustics. The facilities are equipped with building automation, sound systems, stage management consoles, fire detection technology, access control and evacuation systems. In use are Sigmasys, Siport and Simatic systems from
The Sigmasys fire detection system delivers maximum safety. The Sigmasys installation in Salzburg consists of three core systems and two subpanels in the Mozart House and the Felsenreitschule. Over 1,800 automatic and nearly 180 non-automatic fire detectors monitor the many different areas throughout the festival halls. Linear detectors, flame detectors and smoke extraction systems protect the audience and stage areas. Festival managers also have at their disposal a control console and a guard tour integrated into the system. To ensure more than just fire detection, an evacuation system complements the fire detection system. In an emergency, festival attendees are given instructions on how to exit the building safely and securely. Thanks to this complete system, fires are detected immediately and reliably and reported to the authorities so countermeasures can be launched instantly. This means that festival organizers can rely on the highest level of protection for people and assets.
The Siport access control system ensures that only authorized persons gain access to the festival halls. Siport NT VAS issues approximately 7,000 photo ID cards in Salzburg every summer, for example to performers, stage technicians and
administrative staff. The counterfeit-proof photo ID cards can be produced in a flash and are used not only for access control, but also for time tracking and cashless payment in the cafeteria. VAS is an integrated ID card creation system that uses a special security overlay with holographic printing to reliably prevent tampering.
Perfect sound and safety
The stage manager is in charge of the overall coordination at the festival. This includes a wide range of procedures. He or she monitors the action on stage, calls performers in the dressing room and issues light signals. During the performance, all the threads converge on a specially designed stage manager console. Cameras allow the stage manager to keep a watchful eye on the stage and other important areas. The user interface of the console features keys and a touch screen for maximum ease of use. Individual keys and their functions can be customized. This ensures that the stage manager is well prepared for challenging situations during a performance. In fact, the innovations deliver not only an abstract technical benefit, but also make the stage manager’s life easier, asAlexander Kerschbaumer, project manager at Siemens Building Technologies, explains. “The old stage manager consoles still had wooden boxes. The stage manager had to have the skill of a pianist to issue signals. The newly installed technology makes control so much easier.”
In an emergency, the stage manager can contact authorities and first responders as well as organize the 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 modernized. Once the work is completed, approximately400 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 in the stage and audience area are now from Siemens. Fiber optic cables transmit all the audio data and control information digitally to the three venues. The system uses a digital time division multiplex (TDM) 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 equalizers ensure that every audience member hears the sound not only at the same time but in the same quality. The system is continuously self-monitoring. As soon as a malfunction occurs, it sends relevant information to the responsible personnel.
Precise control of the interior temperature and humidity, and keeping them constant, is particularly important in a festival hall. It is the only way artists and their temperature-sensitive instruments can deliver a first-class performance while the
audience enjoys the utmost in comfort. To this end, Siemens designed a sophisticated climate control system. The Alm River and its branches flow under the city of Salzburg. The 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 percent in the concert hall. The automation system from Siemens also controls the ventilation system. It supplies fresh air to the concert halls
continuously and quietly. To reliably prevent malfunctions, a management station monitors actual values via more than 6,000 data points. The station is extremely sensitive and reports the smallest disruption or deviation from the specified values.
With a unique overall system to improve room temperature, humidity, acoustics, stage manager systems, fire detection and access control, Siemens has added considerably to the safety and comfort of the internationally renowned Salzburg
Festival. The cutting-edge technology guarantees the best acoustics, optimal room temperature and climate, reliable fire safety and a state-of-the-art evacuation. All the stakeholders benefit from the new technology. Stage managers can organize their tasks using a touch screenand key shortcuts. The audience can lean back and enjoy the show. These conditions make attending the Salzburg Festival a special treat.