Here’s how the Met gets its titles right on cue

Here’s how the Met gets its titles right on cue


norman lebrecht

August 26, 2017

The soprano Lily Arbisser has a job at the Met.

It involves saying ‘go’ every few minutes to the person who operates the supertitles, making sure the titles coincide as closely as possible to the sung line.

Who knew such a job existed?

Listen to Lily talk about her cue job here.


  • herrera says:

    1. She’s a … prompter 😉

    2. So why doesn’t she operate the software/computer herself (it’s just a laptop)?
    – Because the operator’s job is unionized (and probably very highly paid)?
    – Because Peter Gelb likes to create jobs for the NY economy?

    3. I can’t imagine saying “Go” 600 to 1500 times during a performance. On the other hand, suffering from dry throat is better than suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome from repeatedly hitting the space bar.

    4. To liven things up, and keep herself in form, she should indicate each cue by sight singing the first words of each line coming up.

    5. Seriously though: For funny lines, please cue the line as late as possible. Nothing is as disrupting in opera as when the audience starts laughing before the singer has finished singing the funny line, and you get two waves of laughters. (You can always tell if your neighbor is a reader!)

  • Petros Linardos says:

    How does Vienna do it? They have a similar subtitling system.

  • Nick says:

    Having operated them at one, I know both of the London houses employ people who can read music to press the magical button (the space bar!) to change to the next slide. Surely that is more cost effective than having two people, but glad her skills are being put to use!

  • clarrieu says:

    Yeah, one wonders absolutely why it’s not the same person pressing the space bar, like in (I suppose) every european opera house?

    • James says:

      Because pressing that button is a highly technical and specialized undertaking that only a supremely skilled union stagehand can perform.

      • Ebubu says:

        When you REALLY get down to the absurdities of the system.
        In EVERY other opera house in the world, the subtitles are operated by appointed coaches or technicians who can read music AND operate a subtitle software on a laptop.