Invention designed by AGH UST scientists is in service at the Krakow Opera

A special railing for an orchestra pit at the Krakow Opera. Photo from private archive of Tadeusz Kamisiński

Scientists from the AGH University of Science and Technology have constructed a special railing for an orchestra pit (the area in an opera or theatre where the orchestra performs) with adjustable geometry, which will ensure better audibility of the music played in the hall while enhancing the comfort of work for the orchestra musicians and broadening the scope of artistic expression. The patented invention developed at AGH UST has been put into service at the Krakow Opera.

The orchestra pit railing has been divided into sections of approximately 120cm in length each, with embedded reflexive panels in the form of horizontal slats. The spaces between the panels and the angle of inclination are adjustable. Panels can be pulled down to be completely removed from the section area. The designers have come up with a way to supply the mechanism with automatic drive, which in the future will enable intelligent control of the position of the slats. Owing to the use of mechanically adjustable elements it will be possible to fine-tune the acoustic parameters of the railing as required by such factors as: the arrangement of musicians in the orchestra pit, the kind of music played or the choice of stage set.

The invention being put into use is a particularly important achievement owing to the resulting change in the quality of perceived music. This has been made possible using natural reflections of sounds, without the need for electroacoustic support. The new orchestra pit has enhanced acoustic interaction between the stage, the orchestra and the audience. Further research is currently being done into the acoustics of the new system and the on-going cooperation with the team from the Krakow Opera allows an in-depth exploration of the possibilities this solution offers as well as verification of computational simulations.

The process of implementing this innovative design took place in August 2019 as part of the project called “Modernisation of Stage Technology at the Krakow Opera” financed under the Regional Operational Programme. We note that the orchestra pit has already been provided with, among other things, sound diffusion systems, for which AGH UST scientists had previously filed patent applications.

The latest and the previous constructions have been developed by a team of scientists from the AGH University of Science and Technology headed by dr hab. inż.  Tadeusz Kamisiński, AGH UST Professor of the Department of Mechanics and Vibroacoustics at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics (WIMiR). The cooperation between the AGH UST research team and the Krakow Opera has continued since the moment the construction of the Opera building started in 2007. Our scientists have contributed many expert opinions and study reports on acoustics while the Krakow Opera serves as a laboratory for educating students, who frequently become their highly valued employees.