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OPERA AND BALLET IN TURKEY

In the period prior to the proclamation of the Republic in Turkey, opera, ballet and the theatre were mostly centred around Istanbul and Izmir. The first showing of opera at the imperial court was by artists trained by Giuseppe Donizetti (1788-1856) from the Italian opera. During the Republic, Ahmet Adnan Saygun, Necil Kazim Akses and Cemal Resit Rey were the first composers of opera, operettas and musicals.

A. Adnan Saygun's first two operas, Özsoy and Tasbebek, Necil Kazim Akses's Bay Önder premiered in Ankara in 1934. During 1935, Paul Hindemith, a composer, and Carl Ebert, a theatre director, were invited to give lectures at Musiki Muallim Mektebi in Ankara, which was subsequently transformed into the Ankara State Conservatory. A Mozart musical Bastien und Bastienne staged at the Ankara State Conservatory with pupils playing libretto in Turkish (1936). The staging of western operas such as Madame Butterfly (1940) and Tosca (1941) and the orchestrations, chorus and solo recitals of 1950-1952 contributed to form a foundation for the establishment of today's State Opera and Ballet.

In 1947, the exhibition house building in Ankara was converted into an opera house and started serving as the Ankara Opera House on April 2, 1948 with the performance of pieces composed by the Turkish Five and the premiere of Ahmet Adnan Saygun's Kerem. In the same year, Ninette de Valois, a famous ballerina and ballet teacher, was invited to Istanbul and the National Ballet School was established in Yeşilköy through her intermediary. Later, it was integrated into Ankara State Conservatory, giving its first graduates in 1956. Management of the theatre and the opera were separated in 1958, creating the directorates of Turkish State Theatres and State Opera and Ballet. In 1959, the Istanbul City Opera was established by the private effort of Aydın Gün, and it was nationalized in 1970 as the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet. Aside from Ankara and Istanbul branches, the venues of the State Opera and Ballet have been set up in cities such as Mersin, Antalya and Samsun. Since 1994, the State Opera and Ballet Directorate organizes the annual International Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival with international participation of opera and ballet companies.

Click here to explore the program of the Directorate General of State Opera and Ballet

Reference: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey

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