Vienna Opera now speaks Chinese

Vienna Opera now speaks Chinese


norman lebrecht

November 19, 2019

It has added Spanish and Chinese to six existing surtitle languages.

No plans yet for Yiddish or Hebrew.


Press release: For international visitors of the Wiener Staatsoper two additional languages have been added to the offer of subtitles for the opera performances: in all, there are now subtitles available in eight languages, with the previous selection of English, German, Italian, French, Russian and Japanese supplemented by Spanish and Chinese.


  • ernest says:

    Could they add Korean please? Lots of opera lovers from Korea make a beeline to the Staatsoper …thank you!

    • Olassus says:

      Also, don’t you think, Czech, Hungarian, Slovak, Slovene, for visitors from immediately neighboring countries? And then Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Portuguese, Swedish, usw.

      • Einsteininthejungle says:

        That is very expensive and technically it might not be possible. Chinese and Spanish are two of the most spoken languages in the world, and it is more likely that someone with one of these languages as first or second language attends a performance at the Staatsoper than a native-Dutch, Slovene, or Swedish speaker. Many major opera houses exchange their surtitles. Perhaps they have an agreement with an opera house in Spain (Teatro Real or Liceu) and one in China to exchange surtiles (?).

      • MacroV says:

        People from those countries are generally quite capable English speakers.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Absolutely brilliant!!

  • FranzvonLiszt says:

    Real chinese music lovers are a minority here in Vienna. The standing area of the Musikverein (the infamous ‘Stehplatz’) is ALWAYS full of chinese tourists not interested in the concerts but in making photos of the Musikverein with their phones, and talking to the colleagues while the music is sounding. I’d say that around 90% of these chinese tourists leave before the second half of the concert during the ‘Pause’. Same thing goes in the cheap standing places at the Staatsoper.
    Hopefully this will help these chinese tourist to better understand the opera and keep them distracted from talking and taking photos (which is not allowed).

  • Robin says:

    I’ve always wondered, why can’t an opera company like Vienna buy translations from other big opera houses so that they can have more translations available? For example, why can’t they buy La Boheme in Norwegian from the Norwegian Opera in Oslo?

  • I wonder what the capacity of the system is. How many languages could it offer?

    Text is not highly memory intensive but I can imagine whoever designed that system may never have thought at the outset that they’d have to accommodate more than four or five.

    What is the user interface? I’m guessing they have one button by which you step through a list of options. Eight choices may be reaching patience limit.

    Would people push 20 times to find their language and twenty times more after they accidentally passed it?