Beyond the libretto
Searching for the source text of intersemiotic surtitles prepared for modernised opera productions
Keywords:translation, opera, libretto, surtitles, subtitles, intersemiotic, signs, source, production
Nowadays both intra- and interlingual surtitles are an inherent element of almost all opera productions and, partly thanks to this technology, opera is now going through a renaissance. The trend of staging operas in a modernised fashion is especially popular these days, but it represents a particular challenge for surtitlers. It is argued in this article that while surtitles accompanying traditional opera productions are usually intrasemiotic, as their source text is just the libretto, modernised productions often have intersemiotic surtitles. The article analyses fragments of surtitles prepared for four different operas staged in the Metropolitan Opera House, Bayerische Staatsoper and Royal Opera House. The result show that while traditionally surtitles provide the viewers with the meaning of the libretto, the role of intersemiotic surtitles is much more extended, as they provide the audience with more comprehensive information about the whole opera production.
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