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Opera Surtitling as a Special Case of Audiovisual Translation

Towards a Semiotic and Translation Based Framework for Opera Surtitling


Anna Rędzioch-Korkuz

Despite the growing interest in various translation activities, there is still a potentially vast area of research. The statement may be true for opera surtitling, which was introduced in the nineteen eighties and has been used in opera companies worldwide ever since. This book aims to offer a theoretical framework for opera surtitling, based on several factors, including the semiotics of opera, relevance theory, or fundamental rules of audiovisual translation. The author provides a more illuminating insight by means of practical research into surtitling in Poland, which proves that surtitling is not as simple a task as it may seem, demanding a multimodal and multifaceted analysis of an audiovisual complex and requiring a constant struggle to guarantee optimal relevance of the surtitled performance.

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Chapter Four: Facilitating Operatic Communication


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Chapter Four: Facilitating Operatic Communication

4.1  Operatic Communication as an Example of Bilingual Communication

Operatic communication consists in conveying the meaning embedded in the operatic Text, which is perceived as a multimodal complex provided in the form of a specific staging. The Text is rendered by means of the Language of opera, with a natural language being one of the constituting subcodes. Generally speaking, communication in opera is often subject to numerous limitations, which necessitates varying means of facilitating the reception process.

Even if the meanings represented by the onstage signs (including the linguistic ones) are theoretically clear to the addressee, the overall impression may be obscured because of poor visibility or enunciation, with particular words simply swallowed up by frequent examples of vocal exaggeration. In addition to that, a specific opera may be set in a remote time or place, which means dealing with other cultural environment and dwelling somewhere between two or more cultures (hence, operatic communication may be sometimes interpreted as being bi- or multicultural). Nevertheless, the main issues will most often be related to the language used in the operatic performance. This particular communicative occurrence will acquire a status of bilingual communication due to the language of a particular libretto. It will remain beyond the grasp of an average spectator, who probably lacks enough operatic expertise, yet longs to directly experience the performance.

With the growing knowledge and demands of the contemporary audience, it...

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