Supertitles: built-in translation

Edmonton Opera Blog

Supertitles: built-in translation

Inspired by the 30-Day Opera Challenge done by Austin Lyric Opera, the staff at Edmonton Opera have taken on a 30-question challenge of their own. Each week, we'll post answers from staff members about various aspects of opera, whether it's their favourite aria, an opera house they'd like to visit, or an open-ended question about what they would do if they could direct, sing, conduct, etc., an opera.
We welcome your comments with your own opinion on the question, either in the comments or via social media.

Week 22:

During the Opera America conference in Vancouver at the beginning of May, Opera Omaha did a great job of tweeting during the conference (especially, and understandably, during the social media sessions, using the hashtag #operaconf). One of the questions they brought up was

Supertitles — yes or no? Do they affect how you hear the music?

Ha Neul Kim, company and stage manager: Yes, you need supertitles. Without it you sometimes do not get what the story is about.

Lauren Tenney, marketing and fund development co-ordinator: Yes. It's nice to have the option of them there to read, and if you don't want to read them or if you get caught up in the music, you don't even notice them.

Catherine Szabo, communications co-ordinator: Yes and no. I'm really glad that I saw Aida twice, because the first time I was so overwhelmed trying to take everything in — the cast, the staging, the set, the music and the supertitles — it was really nice to go a second time and just enjoy everything, and watch the supertitle screen for the lines that I really liked and thought were really beautiful translations. I think supertitles are essential because even if you know the story, it's nice to have direct translation, but at the same time, you have to be able to ignore them sometimes. 

Amanda MacRae, education and community outreach manager: I do appreciate supertitles, but find getting informed beforehand allows me to enjoy the music more and not be always looking up. Read the synopsis, attend a pre-opera talk before the show, search wiki — it all helps to better understand the opera from all sides. 

Did you know? The Canadian Opera Company's production of Strauss' Elektra on Jan. 21, 1983, was the first opera in history to be titled. 


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