Users’ expectations of zarzuela audio description: Results from a focus group

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Audio description (AD) for the scenic arts is no longer assumed to be an add-on service to the production, detached from its users and the creative team. Following recent user-centred proposals in the field such as participatory accessibility (Di Giovanni 2018) and poietic design (Greco 2019), this article aims to assess users’ preferences for zarzuela AD through a two-session focus group. Zarzuela is a lyric theatre genre characterised by the alternation of sung and spoken dialogue, Spanish costumbrist themes, and popular settings. Although zarzuelas are audio described at the Teatro de la Zarzuela and Teatro Real in Madrid, and at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, accessibility is lacking in touring productions. Our focus group has been conducted with older users from Valladolid: experienced theatregoers who have nonetheless never attended an audio described zarzuela. The focus group is divided into two parts: First, participants share their cultural habits, general AD consumption, technological usage, and experience with participatory accessibility. Therein, users make a clear distinction in expectations between pre-recorded/non-social vs. live/social AD and activities, expressing a strong preference for the latter. Second, participants assess different stimuli for zarzuela audio introductions and AD, refusing in-depth scripts in favour of more minimalist assistance. Unlike in opera (Orero et al. 2020), most participants do not see the need for providing audio subtitles for this genre, as the sung numbers can be mostly followed or their lyrics are not that relevant, after all.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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