In 1983, the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto tried a grand experiment.
While the singers performed Elektra in German onstage, simultaneous
translations in English were projected above the stage. These "supertitles,"
as they've come to be known, were quickly adopted at opera houses and are now
an expected part of the opera-going experience. The idea came from the
company's artistic director, the late Lotfi Mansouri, who recalled in a 2010
National Endowment for the Arts interview that not everyone thought his idea
was a good one. "I got blasted," Mansouri said. "They called it the 'plague
from Canada.' I had vulgarized opera, but I didn't give a damn because all of
a sudden, the audience was involved." The person Mansouri hired to get them
involved was Sonya Friedman , who had written subtitles for a Metropolitan
Opera television broadcast. The famous soprano Beverly Sills , who served as
general manager of the New York City Opera at the time, saw Friedman's
supertitles and became an