Twenty Years Of Opera Supertitles

Twenty years ago the first supertitles were used at the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto. “The first titled opera was Strauss’s ‘Elektra’: As Orestes busied himself axe-cleaving his mother and stepfather to death, the audience — its eyes cast upwards at the titles — understood opera as never before. There were a few dissenters, but for most it was love at first sight. We had purists who said, ‘I’m German-speaking, I already understand every word.’ And some people said, ‘I have to look up, and it takes away from the action.’ But in an audience poll, approximately 80 per cent gave their approval.”