Metropolitan Opera Bows to Use of Displayed Translations

Article excerpt

The Metropolitan Opera, once a prominent holdout against displaying English lyrics of performances in other languages, now plans to give its audiences simultaneous translations, possibly seat-by-seat.

The opera company will experiment this season to find the best system for showing the words, Bruce Crawford, the Met's board president, said last week. Something could be in place as early as autumn 1994.

Supertitles - the above-the-stage equivalent of silent-movie subtitles - had been a dirty word around the Met since its artistic director, James Levine, strongly condemned the idea in a 1985 interview.

But in a speech to Met contributors in June, Mr. Crawford said that titling was bringing new listeners to opera and, more importantly, "encouraging opera lovers to try new experiences."

It also will enable the Met to broaden its offerings of new, unfamiliar works. "If the Met isn't going to restrict itself to the 'greatest hits' repertory, titles may be a necessity," he says.

Mr. Levine and the opera's general manager, Joseph Volpe, who had shared the conductor's objections to titling, were "perfectly agreeable today to going forward with this," Crawford says. …