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surtitles

surtitles. Translations, usually specially prepared, of extracts from opera libretto, projected on screen above stage during performance to enable members of audience who do not speak language in which opera is set to follow the action. Standard format is 2 lines of text per title with maximum of 40 letters per line. Some operas use up to 600 titles. Introduced by Canadian Opera Co., Toronto, for Elektra, 21 Jan. 1983, on initiative of Lotfi Mansouri, dir. of co. at that time. First used in Brit. at CG school perfs. of La bohème and Falstaff, 1984. Introduced by GTO, Oct. 1984, and at Glyndebourne 1985. CG's regular use began 1986. Florence used them 1986 and Salzburg 1993 (L'incoronazione di Poppea, in Ger. and Eng.). Controversy rages over their use. James Levine said they would be used at NY Met ‘over my dead body’, but the Met introduced them. Eng. surtitles have been used in Eng. language operas, e.g. The Electrification of the Soviet Union, Glyndebourne 1987, and Gawain, CG 1991.

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