Post Ottoman Turkey Classical European Music & Opera

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What do you think continues to fascinate audiences with these themes today? My book is an attempt to come to terms with a vast repertory of mostly forgotten operas about Turks, which played on the stages of Europe from the s to the s, responding to the rhythms of actual historical European relations with the Ottoman Turkish empire— and Rossini was the last great composer in this tradition, taking up with dazzling brillance the Turkish themes of the whole previous century in a series of operatic masterpieces.

Classical Turkish Music

He gave Europe one last round of operas about Turks before the subject disappeared from the repertory of nineteenth-century composers. Rossini, however, was far more committed than Mozart to Turkish themes and invested his genius in a series of five such works over the course of his whole career as an opera composer.

What Rossini and Mozart both understood was that that a Turkish identity could function as a kind of alter ego for a European…. The hero Count Asdrubale comically disguises himself as a Turk in order to find out what his friends really think of him— a comic device not so far from the one that Mozart used in Cosi fan tutte, when he had his heroes disguise themselves as Ottoman Albanians.

Both operas build their plots around the historical phenomenon of Mediterranean piracy— Europeans taken captive by Turks and in need of ransom or rescue. In Mozart the pasha generously liberates his captives at the end, whereas in Rossini Mustafa Bey is comically enchanted, tricked and humbled by Isabella.

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It was something unprecedented in opera when Rossini musically imagined the spectacular erotic compatibility of a Muslim Turk and the Italian Fiorilla. Maometto is a fearsome figure in the opera— capable of cruelty and violence— but also a troubled and sensitive lover, deeply in love with the European woman whom he can not simply conquer.

Luca Pisaroni who will sing the role in its French version as Mahomet this summer at Pesaro has already demonstrated the exceptional vocal charisma of Maometto in the Italian version, calling upon his soldiers to arise sorgete!

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The Ottomans conquered the Greek lands in the fifteenth century, in the reign of Mehmed the Conqueror, and Greece did not become an independent European country until the beginning of the nineteenth century. Were you driven by history or love of opera to write this book: or is it impossible to say? The initial stimulus that started me working on this project came from current events. That was what brought me to the question of Turks and how they sounded and appeared in opera, one of the quintessential artistic forms of European civilization. In fact, Turkish figures in European operas are not meant to be simply alien and exotic, but also appear as very fundamentally European.

They differed in costume from most Europeans, but the range of emotions that they expressed in operatic music and the range of dramatic scenarios that they enacted on the operatic stage were all recognizably familiar to European publics. That said, I also came to this project as both an historian and an opera lover. Inventing Eastern Europe was also the first book in which I tried to write about opera in a limited way, taking on the mock-Albanians in Cosi fan tutte.

I puzzled over the question of how alien those Ottoman Albanians would really have seemed to European publics, and why Mozart and his librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte thought it was a plausible disguise…. I puzzled over the question of how alien those Ottoman Albanians would really have seemed to European publics, and why Mozart and his librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte thought it was a plausible disguise— change of costume, plus fake moustache— for the guys in the opera. As an historian, I also came away from this project with the conviction that historians of culture and ideas, like myself, must work with art and music, as well as with literary texts, if we want to have a comprehensive understanding of any moment or issue in European culture.

Too often, in universities, art history and music history are simply separate departments, and the History Department history straight up somehow feels excused from having to consider the importance of art and music.

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Finally, I have to say that as an opera-lover I took from this project a renewed appreciation for the depth, complexity, ingenuity, and brilliance of Rossini— as I came to know him through his Turkish operas— more than for any other opera composer who played a role in my research. Do you have any feeling about present-day sensibilities regarding how the non-European characters in these operas are presented today?

I feel strongly that opera directors today have to bring across the point that these Turks are not simply exotic figures, but are characters closely related to ourselves. If they are inclined to violence, we should be able to recognize ourselves in them as Mozart certainly did in the violent rages of his Turkish character Osmin in the Abduction — but if they are comical, they are no more comical than we are ourselves and the arrogance, self-importance, rudeness, and sexism of Mustafa Bey were qualities that Rossini well knew were also present in Italian masculinity.

I do think it should be considered a challenge for directors and performers to represent these Turkish characters with musical and dramatic dignity on stage. When Mozart traveled from Vienna to Prague in for a Prague production of The Marriage of Figaro , he wrote a letter home, in which he assigned new identities to himself and his friends, as he entered into the linguistically Slavic world of the Czech lands.

That is your name, as you must know. We all invented names for ourselves on the journey. Here they are: I am Punkitititi. My wife is Schabla Pumfa. Opera and Ballet Community in İstanbul, continuing its activities since as a separate domestic company, was centralized as İstanbul State Opera and Ballet Directorate. Today; our institutions of art, which perform professionally and according to academic rules of polyphonic music, put these art branches' international developments into practice, fulfill examples of international festivals and competitions in our country.

These festivals and competitions attract considerable attention all over the World also make Turkey's mark in international platforms. For this mission maximum effort and care is put to go on domestic tours and a lot of orchestra, opera and ballet artists meet our people in the four corners of the nation and important cultural service is provided. State Opera and Ballet Directorate General and Directorate General of Fine Arts have founded opera-ballet institutions and symphony orchestras for the purpose of the young and the children can reveal and increase their creativity also our nation can demand culture and art also participate active-creator process.

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By spreading country-wide, these institutions provide the social service platform for our nation to be able to consistently contribute to cultural life of Anatolian people. Despite of recent fashionable " globalization ", every nation designates their own educational and artistic goals. Our country as the meeting point of two continents so connecting the East to the West and incorporate rich cultural identities within.

Our folklore, our riches and an alliance of values generating Anatolian soil have been a resource to the works of art of these composers and many other. Their music is universal but also it is our music, our value which carry us to the platform shared with developed countries. Needless to say; polyphonic music, opera and ballet are universal but in these fields our composers should be educated, their works of art should be printed, their copyrights should be protected and they should be encouraged to compose.

Otherwise we will not be able to mention that these branches of art exist in our counrty. Just as we can not mention Turkish Literature only with translated works. Also there are compositions and works of art of Turkish composers via influence of literary works. This is one of the best examples of the interaction between Turkish composers and man of letters. Such examples are mutual success of Turkish opera, classical music and literature. This point is both pleasing and important in terms of showing the development of Universal Turkish Art.

It goes back a long way that Turkish Music and compositions about Turkish people is popular in Europe. In the last quarter of the 17th century, the Ottoman Empire, worldwide powerful politically and militarily, also substantially affect the West cultural sphere. As a result of this effect, until 20th century, hundreds of works of art for stage has come to existence. I knew of these people were farmers.

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However, they even have operas. They have vocal artists, musicians, decorators. They are all educated.

They have built an Opera-house. Will we see the days we have opera?