It was the perfect evening for a samba. The night was warm with the merest hint of a breeze whistling through the Spanish moss. Lights gave the College of Charleston’s Cistern Yard a colorful luster. Famed Brazilian singer Fabiana Cozza was ready to perform her first ever U.S. concert to a thronging crowd. She swished onstage, opened her mouth… and her mic failed.
The best tech is kind the audience doesn’t even notice. Most Spoleto shows have been smooth-sounding and efficiently lit. A huge amount of work goes on behind the scenes to make sure each concert is appealing to ear as well as the eye. But this year Spoleto has been plagued with uneven sound levels (the Ebony Hillbillies), overloud mixes that led some audience members to put their fingers in their ears (Lizz Wright at the Gaillard) and unintended moments of silence for Cozza.
This isn’t the best way for Michael Grofsorean to celebrate 30 years of directing the Jazz Series. He accepts responsibility for the hitches, but insists that they were due to circumstances beyond his control. “Electronics are wonderful until they don’t work,” he says. Fabiana Cozza’s first Wachovia Jazz concert on Friday June 4th proved his point more than any other show.
When Cozza realized her sound was out, she hurriedly took a handheld microphone. She couldn’t hear herself so she stopped singing again, talking to the audience while the backstage crew tweaked their levels. With the sound equalized and the cable freed up, Cozza was ready to start singing some five minutes after she’d stepped on stage.
The sound snafus arose after Cozza asked to use a wireless microphone, giving her more mobility as she swayed to her catchy music. Her sound was checked for two hours that afternoon without a hiccup. But that night, it fizzled out.