Should orchestras use supertitles?

Posted on: October 22, 2010

Thursday (10/21) on his Baltimore Sun blog Clef Notes, Tim Smith writes, “Earlier this week, I had an all-too-common experience at a classical concert that involves the sung word. In this particular case, the performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 by the Mariinsky Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, there were no texts provided in the program book, and that’s an awfully text-filled piece of music. A few days before that, when Concert Artists of Baltimore performed Schumann’s Mass at the Gordon Center, the texts were thoughtfully provided, but the lighting was thoughtlessly kept down, so the effect was the same as if there had been no texts. In both situations, I guarantee you that a substantial portion of the audience was left in the dark. What I really think would do the trick—I’m hardly the first to suggest this—would be a version of the supertitles that caused such a sensation in the opera world back in the 1980s. … It’s too much, perhaps, to ask of every concert presenter, chorus or vocal recitalist to have such a system, but I have seen it tried out by some modest-budget organizations with nothing more than a laptop and a screen. And I still think it would be money wisely spent.”

Posted October 22, 2010