July 14, 2011

Istanbul celebrates Opera's most famous Turks

Alexandra Hudson - Besides the requisite arias and comic duets Mozart also tried to include the piercing timbre of the Ottoman janissary bands, whose ear-splitting drums, cymbals and whining reeds had once accompanied the Sultans on their expansive sweep across south eastern Europe.

The result, his "Abduction from the Seraglio" of 1782, is the most famous example of opera's long fascination with Turkish culture, in which composers have seized on Turkish characters or settings to invoke passion and melodrama and mimicked Turkish melodies and instruments.

In celebration of this trend the Turkish state opera has brought the Ottoman-inspired works of Western classical composers as well as of Turkish opera composers to some of Istanbul's most famous outdoor settings this month -- including the Sultans' former homes, the Topkapi palace and Yildiz palace.

The festival sees Turkish opera singers in sumptuous costumes portray some of Western music's most famous Turkish characters -- such as Mozart's Osmin, the aggressive but comic keeper of the harem.

Read more on Reuters: Istanbul celebrates Opera's most famous Turks


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