SimulText? at the Vienna Opera House
Today, the Vienna Staatsoper combines modern style with a long tradition and is famous all over the world. Even as a traditional opera house, it was looking for ways to attract a new and young audience to opera. In particular, it was looking for a way to provide multilingual versions of libretto text, intelligently and elegantly integrated into an opera house environment.
Ioan Holender, the director of the Vienna Staatsoper, found a solution while visiting the USA. The SimulText® Electronic Libretto System, which delivers simultaneous translations of libretto text in up to eight languages, and which had been introduced at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. Subsequently, the Vienna Staatsoper became the first opera house in Europe to deliver a translated version of a libretto electronically, and the first in the world to provide it in more than one language.
Choosing the Right Partners
"Opera is my passion; technology my profession. For this reason, I am particularly thrilled to be able to provide to one of my favourite opera houses with the most state-of-the-art system of translation titles available. I know how the extraordinary experience of going to the opera can be made even more captivating through a better understanding of the text", says Alberto Vilar.
Implementation of the system was carried out by Siemens AG Austria, and Telekom Austria AG provides additional support by funding the running costs and maintenance.
The SimulText? System
SimulText? titles are operated by computer from a central control booth, and translations for the titles are written by specialists to correspond with the staging of each production. The text conveys the meaning of what the performers are singing but is not usually a word-for-word translation.
A script of the translated text is entered into a computer where revisions can be easily made, and each set of titles is coded with a cue number, which is also marked in the vocal score. As no two performances are alike, the human element keeps titles synchronised with the action on stage.
During the performance, a stage manager in the control booth watches the conductor, the singers and the vocal score and signals an operator when to move from one set of titles to the next. Typical monitor placements include seat back installation and rail mounting, but a wide range of custom and other mounting options are available to provide each audience member with a conveniently and comfortably placed display.
As Andreas L?ng points out: "Big electronic screens get in the way, and the text cannot be clearly read from all seats. Visitors can choose between German and English text versions, or can switch the monitor off if they prefer. "The system has attracted new target groups of customers and user acceptance is very high. Around 80% of the audience uses the system and it seems they can't live without it anymore. There is only one difficulty - shortening the text to fit three lines of 35 to 50 characters".
This success story is based on interviews with Andreas L?ng, Titles Manager at Vienna Staatsoper. We would like to thank him very much for his help and co-operation. A full text version is also available in MS Word [336 KB] or PDF [26 KB] formats.