“There is no question but our great-grandchildren will be very curious to know the reason why their forefathers used to sit together like an audience of foreigners in their own country, and to hear whole plays acted before them in a tongue which they did not understand […] I cannot forbear thinking how naturally an historian, who writes two or three hundred years hence […] will make the following reflection, ‘In the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Italian tongue was so well understood in England, that operas were acted on the public stage in that language.’ ” 
(*Chekhov's 'Three Sisters')
So for me, this is where surtitles come into their own. Also known as ‘supertitles’, surtitles are still incredibly recent, and their history is not all that well defined. What we do know is that they were first seen in televised operas on ‘caption boards’, which would be held in front of the screen to give viewers a quick recap of what was going on, not dissimilar from inter-titles in silent movies. It is thought that surtitles as we know them today were introduced in Beijing in 1983, followed closely by Copenhagen, New York and in 1984, Canada – indeed the word ‘surtitle’ is a trademark of the Canadian Opera Company . The surtitles would be projected high above the stage of the Opera House, allowing the audience to follow the story, without losing the richness of the opera’s original language (at the price of a few days with a cricked-neck).
And the best part of it all? The appreciation of foreign languages and cultures remains completely intact, and in my opinion, even stronger than ever.
 J. Addison, Papers from "The Spectator": The Opera, The Lotus Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 3 (Dec., 1913), pp. 165-172
 J. Burton, The Joy of Opera: The Art and Craft of Opera Subtitling and Surtitling (The Royal Opera House, London) <http://www.port.ac.uk/media/contacts-and-departments/slas/events/tr08-burton.pdf> [Accessed 20 January 2015]
Ramzi Saidani (Royal Opera de la Monnaie, Brussels)
Reims Scènes d'Europe ('Hermann's Battle' with French Surtitles)
Theatre in Paris ('Cyrano de Bergerac' with English surtitles)