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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 Five: Surtitling in Poland


5.1  Opera Companies in Poland

Poland enjoys a relatively rich history of opera, with a good deal of towns and cities hosting opera performances since the seventeenth century. Nowadays, there are opera companies in major cities in the country, with some smaller theatres having orchestra pits and staging operas on a regular basis, e.g. the Musical The­atre in Lublin12 (Pol. Teatr Muzyczny w Lublinie) or the former Concert Hall in Białystok (Pol. Filharmonia Białostocka). It seems though that, stuck in the corset of prominent clientele and hermetic atmosphere, opera does not belong to favourite forms of entertainment in Poland.

According to the annual statistics provided by the Central Statistical Office in Poland (Rocznik Statystyczny RP 2015; Kultura w 2014), in 2014 there were eleven opera houses in Poland. Altogether the opera companies staged 1,641 performances (excluding ballet performances as well as operettas), which makes up less than three per cent of all performances staged by various public and private theatrical institutions. Moreover, the number of opera performances has decreased since 2014 when it amounted to 1,706 performances. The opera houses in Poland can boast 932,000 spectators, which comprises almost eight per cent of the overall number of the audience of theatres and musical institutions. It seems worth noticing that the number of spectators has been growing gradually for the last several years.

The most “operatic city” seems Warsaw, which is home to two opera companies – the...

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