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Supertitles

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ENTERTAINMENT
February 23, 1991
Having donated the supertitle equipment used by Opera Pacific, we are appalled to read Martin Bernheimer's constant attacks on the use of this equipment. Practically every time he reviews Opera Pacific, he manages to carp on this. The use of supertitles has made opera accessible to significant numbers of people who would not otherwise be privy to intricacies of the libretto. Not everyone (this includes us) has access to the musical background or possesses the linguistic skills that Mr. Bernheimer has. His constant bad-mouthing smacks of elitism.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 5, 2013 | By Devin Kelly
Lotfi Mansouri, the spirited former general director of the San Francisco Opera whose desire to democratize the operatic experience for a modern audience spurred the use of projected translations in performances, has died. He was 84. Mansouri died Aug. 30 at his home in San Francisco from complications of pancreatic cancer, the San Francisco Opera said. The Iranian-born opera director and administrator ran the San Francisco company from 1988 to 2001, taking on ambitious commissions such as Jake Heggie's "Dead Man Walking" and Andre Previn's adaptation of the Tennessee Williams classic "A Streetcar Named Desire.
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NEWS
September 21, 1986 | RANDY LEWIS, Randy Lewis is a Times staff writer.
The hottest addition to opera in the '80s is the use of translations projected above the stage to help audiences better understand productions sung in French, Italian, German, Russian and--yes--even English. As opera's answer to subtitles in foreign-language films, these cue cards for audiences have several monikers: They're called Supertitles at New York City Opera and San Francisco Opera. Houston Grand Opera and Canadian Opera Company of Toronto have dubbed them Surtitles.
ENTERTAINMENT
May 19, 2013 | By Marcia Adair
"Celluloid condoms between the audience and the immediate gratification of understanding. " "More like watching Playboy TV than having sex. " Hyperbolic outbursts are not uncommon in opera, but rarely were they so concentrated or, um, vivid. FOR THE RECORD: Opera supertitles: A May 19 article about the history of opera supertitles misidentified director Graham Vick as Graham Vickers. - What riled opera so? Supertitles. Translations usually projected above the stage have driven directors to issue bomb threats.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 4, 1988
I invite Martin Bernheimer to sit in the back row of the orchestra section when he attends future Music Center operas ("Operatic Dilemma: Is an Aria Worth 100 Words?" Nov. 20). From there the supertitles cannot be seen due to the overhang of the balcony. This will hopefully delight him as much as it angered me. JIM HOBER Los Angeles
ENTERTAINMENT
March 6, 1993
Martin Bernheimer's review of "Rigoletto" ("The Domingos Do 'Rigoletto,' " March 1) can be faulted for many things, but the most serious of them is misdirection of his audience. It is the prime obligation of a critic in a mass circulation newspaper to help readers determine if a given thing is worth experiencing. In that process, the reviewer can also surely educate us, amuse us, get us to thinking and so on. Bernheimer seems never to sense the difference between how a piece is evaluated for experts and how it is evaluated for the rest of us. And his putdown of the supertitles is almost insulting to those of us who are not experts--supertitles have immensely enhanced the ability of most opera-goers to really enjoy what they see. JOHN M. ALLSWANG Los Angeles
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 1, 1992
Nobody expects a music critic to be creative, or constructive, or even objective. In his review of San Diego Opera's "Marriage of Figaro" ("Conventional Marriage," Feb. 10), Martin Bernheimer meets or exceeds those expectations but still provides some informative comments about the production. On the other hand, nobody needs his snobbish, snippy observations about the behavior of the audience: "first-nighters were so busy reading the infernal supertitles that they tended to ignore the sublime music."
ENTERTAINMENT
February 8, 2004 | Victoria Looseleaf
"Dude, where's my supertitle?" OK, "dude" isn't bandied about in "La Boheme," Puccini's 19th century opera of doomed love. But the hip expressions "cat" and "daddy-o" do pop up in Baz Luhrmann's opulent staging of the Italian tear-jerker at the Ahmanson Theatre through March 7. And while the French word l'amour may be the name of the game, if you don't understand Italian, you probably won't be smitten.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 26, 1987
How wonderful to have a serious effort at a first-class opera company in Los Angeles! And to see that there is at last serious backing for the enterprise. I attended "Macbeth" and "Tristan und Isolde," and they were worth it. Nevertheless, there is one lamentable feature of both productions: supertitles. Not the use of supertitles, which I guess everyone can appreciate, since even texts sung in their original English are rarely decipherable when sung. Rather, what is objectionable is the deplorable wording that was flashed overhead, wording worse than the subtitles of foreign-language movies that reduce even the usually low-level dialogue of most film scripts to sawdust.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 1, 1987
I had the great pleasure of viewing the New York City Opera production of "Madama Butterfly" at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. Sadly, however, the quality of the performance was marred by a regular staccato of coughs from considerably more than a handful of patrons. Apparently many simply do not realize how disruptive this can be, particularly in a hall with such fine acoustics. A tactful reminder in the program and perhaps a notice on the impressive supertitles board above the stage prior to the performance would probably help to eliminate this problem and would undoubtedly be appreciated by all. MICHAEL G. DAWE Irvine
ENTERTAINMENT
December 5, 2008 | CHARLES McNULTY, THEATER CRITIC
Fog rolls in throughout the Volksbuhne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz's production of "Ivanov." But even though the effect is largely confined to the stage area, it's a sure bet anyone attending this UCLA Live Seventh International Theatre Festival offering with the hope of encountering Chekhov's early drama will find themselves completely fogged in. Maybe it's better to leave the Russian playwright out of this. Or at least give him lower billing. This is a deconstruction, which ipso facto puts the director in the spotlight.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 13, 2007 | Mike Boehm, Times Staff Writer
The Kirk Douglas Theatre's 2007-08 season will include portraits of two presidents, a play about a devastating Bolivian earthquake, delivered in Spanish with English supertitles, and an off-Broadway hit solo performance about a drama teacher's experiences in a beleaguered New York City high school. Plus David Mamet, tardy pass in hand, offering his first musical. The presidential plays are world premieres. "Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson," (Jan. 20-Feb.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 8, 2004 | Victoria Looseleaf
"Dude, where's my supertitle?" OK, "dude" isn't bandied about in "La Boheme," Puccini's 19th century opera of doomed love. But the hip expressions "cat" and "daddy-o" do pop up in Baz Luhrmann's opulent staging of the Italian tear-jerker at the Ahmanson Theatre through March 7. And while the French word l'amour may be the name of the game, if you don't understand Italian, you probably won't be smitten.
ENTERTAINMENT
July 23, 2002 | CHRIS PASLES, TIMES STAFF WRITER
A concert version of Puccini's "La Boheme" Sunday at the Hollywood Bowl wasn't just a great night at the Bowl. It was a great "Boheme." This was all the more striking because it's harder to hold attention or follow the action of an opera without costumes and staging and, especially these days when we've gotten so used to them, without supertitles.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 14, 2001 | JACK ROBINSON, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Pacific Symphony music director Carl St.Clair is a wizard at making audiences comfortable with classical music. But this time he may have gone too far. In the second performance of a colorful program including works from or about Spain, the orchestra Thursday night offered something I've never seen before: supertitles for a tone poem. At first blush it makes sense.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 25, 2000 | JOHN HENKEN, John Henken is a frequent contributor to Calendar
"People are wrong when they say that the opera isn't what it used to be," Noel Coward wrote in "Design for Living." "It is what it used to be. That's what's wrong with it." But that was 1933. After World War II, opera began to step out of its visually and dramatically implausible, stand-and-sing mind-set. New works and new audiences have entered opera houses, where the one constant is change.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 27, 1986 | MARTIN BERNHEIMER, Times Music Critic
Contrary to some expectations, it wasn't "Le Nozze di Figaro" with English supertitles Saturday night at the Civic Theatre. It was "The Marriage of Figaro," sung in British. The prevalently prissy tone actually might have suggested something like "The Nuptials of Figaro, the Crafty Servant-Gentleman Who Over All Adversity Doth Rise."
ENTERTAINMENT
January 20, 1999 | CHRIS PASLES, TIMES STAFF WRITER
For many people, the key that has opened the riches of opera has been supertitles. But few of them know how much work goes into keeping those translations of the text of arias and dialogue flashing accurately and in timely fashion above the stage.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 25, 1998
Daniel Cariaga's comments regarding San Diego Opera's supertitles rang an all too sonorous bell (" 'Romeo et Juliette' a Feast for the Senses," April 21). As both subscribers to San Diego Opera and Los Angeles Opera, we never cease to marvel at how difficult it is to read the supertitles at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. If the stage is brightly lighted, one might as well give up on trying to read the titles. The enjoyment of an otherwise fine production is seriously hampered by the struggle to read the text.
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