Surtitles as a Form of Audiovisual Translation and Their Reception in Modern Opera Performances in the Netherlands

Keywords: surtitles, audiovisual translation, opera, theatre, reception


Surtitles are almost indispensable in contemporary opera performances. Surtitles make operas performed in a foreign language more accessible to a wider audience and give opera companies more choice in composing their repertoire. Due to its close connection to the performance of an opera, surtitles differ somewhat from other forms of audiovisual translation such as subtitling. In addition, surtitles involve other players in the translation process, such as directors and conductors. In the first part of this article, surtitles are explained and placed in the broader context of audiovisual translation.

The introduction of surtitles, however, was not without its struggles. In the world of opera in particular, there was resistance to them. In the second part of this article, we take a closer look at the reasons for this resistance and, on the basis of recent reviews of opera performances, we try to establish how surtitles in opera are currently viewed in the Netherlands.


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