Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



First Advisor

Jane Cassidy

Second Advisor

Robert Grayson


The main purpose of this monograph was to examine the use of supertitles in foreign language opera by American opera companies. Supertitles are the translation of an opera's text projected simultaneously above the stage during an opera performance. The use of supertitles is one of the most controversial issues in the opera world. Although the primary purpose is to enable the audience to understand a foreign text, there is an ongoing controversy over whether supertitles enhance an opera performance or detract from it. Many opera companies are using supertitles, but there are still those who have not made the investment in equipment or personnel necessary to accomplish this relatively new aspect of opera performance. This research project included the tracing of supertitles from subtitles of silent film to present-day opera, an explanation of the technology involved in supertitle production, an in-depth documentation of the controversial issue of supertitles, and the presentation of data from an original and two previously conducted surveys regarding audience opinion of supertitles. Following these discussions, general recommendations were made on the basis of budget, equipment, and personnel available to various opera companies. Additionally, future technology and other issues related to supertitles were addressed. This research has been compiled as a service to opera companies using supertitles, to those companies who are considering the use of supertitles, and to those audience members curious about the origin and production of supertitles.