Musings on opera in NC and beyond

I give. I like to know what they’re saying.

with 2 comments

I love subtitles at operas; I think they’re a great innovation in opera. Does that make me an opera unpurist? Maybe, maybe not. Anyhooo, my opinion holds that it’s the best way to bring more fans into my fav art form. And that can’t be all bad.

But of course, nothing is risk free. For instance, a few years back in a Tosca performance….you might recall the scene in the first act, at the end of the duet between Tosca and Cavaradossi??? The jealous dark eyed Tosca asks her painter boyfriend who is painting a portrait of another woman—who has blue eyes—to paint the eyes black. The translation in the subtitle read: “give her two black eyes”. Mmmmmm. Not exactly Puccini’s intent, I am sure. However, it was pretty funny.

Still, I’m way happier now that there are subtitles at the opera houses. I enjoy the music far more with them than without them. Now, here’s a clip of a Tosca aria that Pavarotti owned–he nails it. So listen, go stream of consciousness and enjoy the music. As well as the subtitles.


Written by Darla

February 23, 2010 at 7:58 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. I completely agree that to appeal to a new generation of opera lovers it is good to have subtitles in video performances of opera. Audiences now are so used to having foreign language film with subtitles, they may not give opera a chance without it. A lot of the time you can understand the gist of a foreign language film without the titles, but you can never reach a full understanding of the plot.

    Some puritan opera fans will say that you don’t NEED to know exact translations to appreciate the opera, and I agree, but some people might WANT to understand the language to enjoy it more.


    February 23, 2010 at 8:52 am

  2. As having done OCNC’s supertitles for the past 4 years, I’ve got some stories I could tell about the process! When we receive the supertitles, some of the translations are pretty darn funny — and totally inaccurate! Especially the more comedic the opera is, the less the translations make sense. A lot is lost in translation when it comes to humor!

    Sam Shaber

    February 23, 2010 at 9:26 am

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