Challenges and Rewards of Surtitling as an Audiovisual Translation Mode: A Case Study of the Contemporary Opera Have a Good Day!


  • Lina Abraitienė Aleksandras Stulginskis University
  • Indrė Koverienė Aleksandras Stulginskis University
  • Jūratė Urbonienė Aleksandras Stulginskis University



surtitling, subtitling, opera, audiovisual translation, culture-specific items, translation strategies.


The goal of surtitling as a mode of audiovisual translation (AVT) is to help the opera-goers to overcome language barriers faced in opera production. Modern technologies have made opera production more audience-friendly introducing new languages and works in opera houses worldwide. However, this relatively new field of research has not been investigated in Lithuania. Hence, this study aims at the analysis of surtitling as a new field of research highlighting technical and translation issues as well as complexity and obstacles that are encountered when producing this kind of translation. Even though subtitling and surtitling hold a number of similarities as two modes of language transfer when translating different types of audiovisual media, there are differences in their production process likewise technical difficulties to be dealt with. As illustration of multiple nature of opera surtitling, a contemporary opera performance Have a Good Day! is chosen. The modern opera, revealing inner lives, secret thoughts and wishes of cashiers in a shopping centre, includes a number of culture-specific items that are grouped according to Davies’s classification of translation strategies. Not only culture-specific items are studied, but also particular means like entries for different parts of chorus and vocal lines that interlace at the same time preserving syllabic number and rhyme pattern in libretto translation are thoroughly considered in the research.