Friday, December 21, 2007

Triumph of a Trovatore in Ankara

Yuksel Soylemez The New Anatolian / Ankara/ 20 December 2007

Last Saturday 15 September 2008, the Minister of Culture, Ertugrul Gunay, and his wife, accompanied by their attractive young daughter, honored the State Opera by attending the first night of Verdi's 3 act opera, Il Trovatore in Ankara. Il Trovatore was first performed in Rome on 19 January 1853 and one hundred years later in Ankara in 1955.

This production was staged by Gurcil Celiktas, who earlier this year produced Nabucco with great success on a grand scale. His Trovatore is an even greater triumph for this seasoned Artistic Director of operas who had every right to be proud last Saturday night. The five great voices of the night were Senol Talinli in the lead role as the troubadour in love with Leonora, sung by Feryal Turkoglu, Eralp Kiyici as the Count Luna also in love with Leonora, but hopelessly, Sim Tokyurek as the troubadour's gypsy mother and last but very much not least the irreplaceable bass of the State Opera, famous for his Osmin in Abduction from the Seraglio, the one and only Tuncay Kurtoglu, as Fernando, the narrator soldier friend of the Count.

For some Il Trovatore, meaning the Troubadour, the singing minstrel, is the most lyrical of all the operas Verdi wrote because from beginning to end it is full of melodic arias, duets, quartets and choruses, which were trained and led by Italian Alessandro Cedroni to great heights. In my opinion, in this opera of Verdi the chorus has a greater part than in any other. The costumes by Nursun Unlu also deserve great applause and the simple sets were an effective foil to all the shining gold of the uniforms and richly colorful costumes. The orchestra led by Taner Bozok and conducted by Sunay Muratov attained its greatest heights without drowning the powerful singing. Each perfectly complemented the other.

The production was played to a full house at the State Opera with appreciation and applause, especially from the many young present who value this great talent we are so lucky to have in Turkey. The subject is love and superstition which takes place in a castle in Italy. Leonora, who was sung with great distinction by Feryal Turkoglu, is loved by two men, Manrico, sung by great tenor of the State Opera Senol Talinli with admirable gusto and stamina, and Count Luna, sung with his great voice by Eralp Kiyici, whose love is unrequited. Leonora is in love with Manrico who unknown to them is the brother of the Count, a fact revealed in the last act by the gipsy witch Azucena whose mother had been burned at the stake by the previous Count.

This first night was watched with appreciation and interest by the Minister and his family. On the whole, previous culture ministers with the exception of Istemihan Talay, regrettably have not in the past taken the trouble to attend State Opera productions and we very much hope to see much more of the Minister, busy as he is, at future productions of the Opera and Ballet and at classical music performances by our extremely talented orchestras and soloists. Earlier this year we saw Il Trovatore at Covent Garden, with La Scala and the Metropolitan one of the great opera houses in the world, and in our opinion this production was up to their standard in every way, presenting itself as an equal of the Covent Garden production. As I told her after the performance in her dressing room, Sim Tokyurek as Azucena was better than the one we heard at Covent Garden, not only with her voice but her stature also. She is certainly a rival with the great Jaklin Carkci for the title of Turkey's Azucena, where she made her name before going on to be a famous Turkish Carmen.

This first night gave an opportunity to talk to Ertugrul Gunay on Turkey's promotion in Europe with its classical music, opera and ballet. For that purpose I suggested with humility that Turkey's State Opera should tour German cities with Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio. I suggested that Carmen, which Bizet wrote in French, should also be toured in France by the Istanbul Opera, and Nabucco, Trovatore or Traviata should go on tour in Italian cities. I also mentioned that there are several Turkish pianists living in the heart of Europe such as Idil Biret, Verda Erman, Huseyin Sermet, the Pekinel sisters, flautist Gulsen Tatu and there should be no inferiority complex about these high standard internationally recognized musicians, who are already very active all over the world as well as in Turkey, and could be sponsored by the Turkish private sector together with the Ministry of Culture to give concerts in towns all over Europe.

I told the Minister that it will primarily be the Ministry of Culture which will lead Turkey into Europe. The road to EU membership is paved with cultural manifestations and identity. It is not too far-fetched to envisage and plan a cultural classical music mobilization, concentrating in Europe, coupled with Turkish films, painting, sculpture, poetry. Small groups, trios, quartets, quintets from the Presidential Orchestra, for example, should concentrate in giving performances in Germany and France in a year where most unfortunately the home of the Presidential Symphony is closed. The Frankfurt book fair is an ideal opportunity as a starting point for this long cultural march. All these activities which can be spread over a period of years can be organized with the contribution of the EU embassies in Ankara and Turkish embassies in Europe on a bilateral cultural exchange programme. Il Trovatore, for which the Italian Cultural Attache Angela Tangianu must also be congratulated, is an admirable example of Italian-Turkish collaboration, and on that opening night many Italians living in Turkey were present and expressed their appreciation and enjoyment of opera in Turkey.

This excellent production of Il Trovatore can be enjoyed again on 26 December, 9 and 28 January and hopefully on many occasions after that.

How many intellectual Europeans know that in five Turkish cities there are 5 opera houses staging operas in their original languages with Turkish subtitles? How many of these people know that there are 5 orchestras in Ankara alone, and provincial symphony orchestras and music groups mushrooming in many cities, not just Istanbul. The Aspendos and Mersin Festivals every summer are a wonderful opportunity for a cultural holiday for all music lovers, whether Turk or foreigners. There is no limit to the imagination if it is understood here in Turkey that Turkey's acceptance and integration culturally in Europe are a most important key to Turkey's EU membership at grass roots level, let alone in the eye of EU opinion and government leaders.

All that said, charity begins at home, and we urge the government to give more recognition and value to the first class talents that Turkey is producing in the world of classical music, opera and ballet. It is a sad state of affairs that the Presidential Symphony Hall has been closed since last spring for repairs which despite all promised dates have still not yet begun. While there must be proper homes and halls, artists and equipment for classical musicians and artists to operate, music is far more important that the comfort of armchairs. Classical music has never been a luxury commodity, that is not its nature. All too often we hear it said, very wrongly and inaccurately, that classical music is a "western Christian art". That is not true: not merely throughout Europe, but all round the world from Tokyo and Bejing to Cairo, to former Soviet Union countries such as Georgia, Azerbaijan, Moldova to towns all over the USA, to cities of Latin America such as Mexico, Lima, Caracas, Santiago, classical music, opera and ballet can be enjoyed as a human right of civilized countries, as food for the soul which reaches way past boundaries of religion and nationality, playing a unifyingly peaceful part with no violent scenes such as are all too often witnessed in the mass fanaticism of football matches. To sum it up, life is short, art is long. We ask our leaders to respect that.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

"Madama Butterfly" in Ankara Opera House

“Madama Butterfly” a masterpiece by Giacomo Puccini, is performed at the Ankara Opera House last night. "Madama Butterfly" is Puccini's the most famous opera and remains among the three or four most popular operas in the world.

Statistics indicate that Puccini's “Madame Butterfly” and “La Bohème” are among the most popular and often-performed compositions in the world, pieces that almost all opera houses around the world include in their repertoires at least once a year. This shows the popularity and value of Puccini,

Last night, performance was extraordinary.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Advanced Users Symposium

Dear Energy Professional, Dear Colleagues

Thermal power plant design software company has scheduled a new training session called „Advanced Users Symposium“ in Frankfurt on Oct 30-31, 2007.

The idea of this session is to provide information about “advanced software features” to our advanced users of our thermal Power Plant design software

You will find the course content and further information when you follow this link:

You can refer to the link on the Thermoflow website, in case that you require further information.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Kazakhstan Tengiz Oil Fields, June 1996

Dear Colleagues,

In early 1996, TengizChevroil (TCO) joint venture asked their major contractor company Bechtel of USA to make condition assessment of the existing thermal power plant in the Tengiz field. Bechtel transferred the request to their recommended boiler supplier, Babcock & Wilcox Company of McDermott Group of companies. The Group decided to send two site supervisors/ managers to Tengiz Oil field.

Mr. Alan E. Reid, Service Engineer from Babcock & Wilcox International Inc of Barberton, Ohio USA, and Mr. Walid A. Bader, Area Marketing Manager from McDermott Offshore Drilling Inc of Houston Texas USA were sent to Tengiz Oil Fields in Kazakhstan in June 1996.

Condition assessment study of the existing steam boilers would be made on paid basis, and hence all expenses would be paid by the client and a lump sum engineering fee (50K USD) would additionally be paid to the invited company.

Since we were the B&W’s closest JV company to the Tengiz site, I was also asked to join the team to support them at site and get ready for necessary proposal preparation if/when needed in future.

Tengiz field, in western Kazakhstan, is located in the low-lying wetlands along the northeast shores of the Caspian Sea. Discovered in 1979, Tengiz oil field is one of the largest discoveries in recent history. The city of Atyrau, 350 kilometers north of Tengiz, is the main transport hub of Tengiz oil. Many nations are involved in a large geopolitical competition to secure access to this source of oil.

I took the appropriate/ connecting flight from Istanbul to Budapest to catch the next charter flight of Chevron/ Bechtel employees to the Tengiz Oil fields. In Budapest, our team has gathered. Our flight was from Budapest to Atyrau of Kazakhstan on a charter flight weekly operated by Hungarian Airlines on a Tupolev 124 Russian made plane. Other passengers were from Chevron employees from Louisiana Gulf offshore or onshore oil fields, riggers, diggers, mechanics, oilmen with difficult southern accent and the engineers from Bechtel London office, mostly British nationals, as well as employees of auxiliary services such as catering, logistics etc.

After 4 hours of flight, we landed to Atyrau airport. It took almost four (4) more hours to pass the custom clearance for all 150 passengers, since there were no computers for registration and all paper work was done manually. Then snacks and water was distributed. We were invited to board buses to go to the Tengiz oil fields almost 350 kms far from the airport in the desert. Vehicles were old Russian made, with no air conditioning. All curtains were down, all windows were wide open in order to reduce the desert heat. Road was in single lane wornout, sometimes rough bare soil with loopholes all the way.

After 3 hours, buses stopped on the open-air, in the middle of desert, people shouted as “Peace Break”, which had a different meaning but equivocal. Men lined up on one side of the empty road for relaxation and smoking, and leg stretching, ladies did the same on the other side of the road. We repeated that ritual two more times before we reached to the camp site in the oil fields.

Estimated at up to 25 billion barrels (4 km³) of oil originally in place, Tengiz is the sixth largest oil field in the world; recoverable crude oil reserves have been estimated at 6 to 9 billion barrels (0.9 to 1.4 km³). Like many other oil fields, the Tengiz also contains large reserves of natural gas.

At the camp site, we were given individual rooms with bed only but no toilet, no shower in prefabricated barracks. Our barracks were allocated for local Russian/ Kazakh female workers/ office staff/ lawyers/ accountants and for the international service staff who were in Tengiz Oil Fields for short term stay.
We were supposed to use the common toilet facilities in the middle of the barracks. Respective Men/ Women Toilets, and showers had no doors at the entrance nor anywhere inside, all open.

The next morning we had registered, filled many forms, administration took Polaroid photos and created ID cards which we should expected to carry all times. Then we took safety crash course for one full day.

Since the oil from Tengiz contains a high amount of sulfur (up to 17%), 9 million tons of sulfur byproduct has been stored in sulfur blocks. We saw those sulfur blocks in piles.

Crush course on site safety was because of any dangerous gas / sulfur leaks which happened in the past in similar sites and resulted many human losses. In that safety course we were taught what to do in case of any dangerous gas leak, where to go, how to use our gas masks, how to vacate the site, where to escape. In the end we took a written examination and got certificate / license to work in the site.

The TengizChevroil (TCO) joint venture has developed the Tengiz field since 1993.
The major partners in TengizChevroil are Chevron (50% ownership), ExxonMobil (25% ownership), the Kazakhstani government through KazMunayGas (20% ownership) and Russian LukArco (5%).

Every morning at about 0500 hours you wake up, go to the common toilette section, get cleaned, return to your room, get dressed, board the service busses and go to the production site/ oil fields/ offices to work which was almost 25 kms far from the camping site.

Bus ride takes about 30 minutes. It was also a safety precaution for any gas leaks at the working site. We had individual gas masks. Oil field was in the middle of an empty stone/sand desert, no animal, no plant anywhere.

Each day we were working from 06 to 18 hours with one hour lunch break, for 6 days in a week plus Sunday morning.

The Tengiz oil field is one of the biggest in the world. It contains 24 billion barrels of high quality oil and six to nine billion barrels of recoverable oil. It is deep, having a target depth of 4,500 meters. It also contains significant gas reserves (18,000 billion cubic meters).

An area of major geopolitical competition involves the routing of oil out of this oil field. Oil from the Tengiz field is primarily routed to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk through the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) project.
The field required a great deal of infrastructure investment to develop. Most of this was designed and implemented by the Russian Technical Design Institutes, but a consortium of western contractors built the processing plant. The consortium included Lurgi, Litwin and Lavalin.

The second day we were exposed to the power house which houses in-door 7 each 40 tons per hour steam output capacity field erected steam boilers, which were in a very poor operating conditions, not properly maintained for a long time but barely serving the facilities steam demand.

We spent next two full weeks in the power house, inspected in and out of steam boilers, furnace walls, drums, generating banks, superheaters, safety valves, instrumentation and controls, pumps, external and internal steam pipes/ tubes, technical drawings. We took photographs, we measured tube and drum thicknesses. We noted every information of the subject boilers. On the site we drafted our preliminary “Site Report” to finalize the actual “Condition Assessment” report upon return to our home offices.

The only Sunday we were at the site, we visited the nearby Turkish Contractor’s site a few miles away. Compared to our facility, which was purchased from the former Hungarian State contractors camp facility, and kept in operation with minimum renovation, Turkish site facility was new, better. Each worker/ technician/ engineer had a separate room with shower and toilet. They had satellite TV access, latest PC hardware and software, construction machineries, all in good condition, machine shop etc. They had delicious fresh food, and very civilized working environment. They were subcontractors of TCO and Bechtel at oil field, pipeline construction and engineering in the offices.

In our TCO offices at the oil field working site, each person/ engineer/ worker has to work full four weeks, then go to vacation for next four weeks, giving his space/ table/ responsibility to his/her replacement person. This type of work was/ still is called “28/28 rotation”. Normal working practice was such that they would be solving the easy daily problems and leaving the troubles to his/her replacement. In the offices it was my sincere feeling that they had very tense, difficult peer relations, stressful, sort of mobbing conditions.

At dinner time, we had choices of meat/ chicken/ fish all from frozen stock, plus rice/ pasta/ potatoes with some green salad, milky dessert and fruit juice. After dinner, we had nothing to do. We were taking our tea/ coffee, sitting on our dinner table and watching other people, have some conversation with the local ladies and then we all go to sleep.

Office/ Catering/ Service works were handled by local Russian/ Kazakh ladies who were relatively well educated personnel, lawyers/ administrative staff, typist/ translators etc. They were beautiful daughters of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky and Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky and you could talk on very intellectual conversations long hours.

At the end our site surveillance on the power house, we completed our site activity and returned to our offices at our respective countries. We exchanged our notes and completed and submitted our final “Condition Assessment Report” on the existing steam boilers to TCO authorities.

In summary we were advising them that they should dismantle and replace the existing steam boilers, open a public tender to purchase new packaged steam boilers from international markets.

We also added our budget/ estimated / lump sum/ ball park proposal for new 4 each 70 tph packaged steam boilers for their budget.

In year 1997 we received the order in open international competitive tendering for construction/ fabrication/ installed/ operation of 4 new package boilers within 12 months.

Our Client was BECHTEL International Inc. in United Kingdom, and we were responsible for the followings: Design and detail engineering, 4 each 70 tons per hour, FM 120/97 type steam boiler supply and installation, Supply and installation of Draft system, Feed water system, blow-off and drain system, external piping, raw water treatment system, condensate treatment system, Paint, refractory, insulation, automation of related equipment with material supply, Tests and commissioning, Operation and maintenance manual. Price was approximately 10 million US Dollars (in 2007 prices).

What happened to the young talented international engineers we met at the site. They had short term love affairs with the daughters of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy who were highly educated, sincere, romantic and delicate, and couples ended up with long term marriages. Ladies of Tengiz desert left their country and emigrated to Louisiana USA, London UK or Istanbul Turkey. International engineers had high degree of possession instinct, which the local counterparts had minimal or almost lack of, due to long Soviet reign.

So our companies have also worked for mixing cultures as well as genes.

Your comments are always welcome.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Cesaria Evora in Istanbul on July 31

Barefoot Diva Cesaria Evora is touring the world attracting millions of people with her acclaimed latest album Rogamar since 2006. She will be in Istanbul on 31st of July, 21.00 at Harbiye Open Air Theatre as a part of 18th Most Open Air Concerts...

Climbing the each and every step of fame leaving her poverty behind,she became one of the most popular singers of world music fascinating millions with her sincerity and genuine attitudes.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Dear Colleagues

Our Contemporary Master Painter Mr Yalcin GOKCEBAG will be in Washington DC in Meridian International Center which is housed in two historic mansions in the heart of Washington, DC - Meridian House and White-Meyer House.

Both houses are situated one block off 16th Street, NW, across from Meridian Hill Park.

Exhibition will be held between 27 March- 02 May 2007

Meridian House
1630 Crescent Place, NW
Washington, DC 20009

White-Meyer House
1624 Crescent Place, NW
Washington, DC 20009
Note: Meridian's art galleries are in White-Meyer House.

TEL: (202) 667-6800
FAX: (202) 667-1475

Reception is on 26th March 2007

Friday, February 23, 2007

Baymina Plant Tour

Dear Colleagues,

Sometimes you complete a good job, you know that you accomplish a good return, it is a good job, many people had learnt/ earned many things, it is something you created for a good value

you know that it was good, you do not need any appreciation, you do not need anyone to thank, you appreciate yourself that it was good, you feel happy, you want to drink a good red dry wine to celebrate yourself, that was on 22nd February Thursday afternoon,

we had our coach at 1230 hours, we departed from the sidewalks of the chamber of mechanical engineering office with total 38 participants,

10 undergraduate ME students, 10 young/ 10 senior mechanical engineers,
8 contractor/engineers to join us at the main gate,

we left the city center, on the way to the Baymina 770 MWe combined cycle thermal power plant

On our early period of departure, your writer took the initiative,
distributed the sandwiches, sour milk shakes,
introduced himself as the member of
Energy commission of the Chamber of mechanical Engineers in Ankara

explained the thermal power plant which we would be visiting, advised the participants how important/ efficient/ new, the power plant is,
then we asked the members to introduce themselves within a few sentences,
since we talked that much, nobody said "No"

Baymina Temelli Combined cycle power plant is 55 km west of Ankara city center,
on a remote empty landscape

on our coach ride, we sent SMS messages to the responsible plant manager where we were, and when we arrived to the plant main gate, they were ready to meet us for the plant excursion

we delivered our ID cards received our barges, signed documents against any accident liability to keep the plant immune,

we are asked to wear our security shoes, safety glasses, safety helmets

and then we visited the biggest commercial combined cycle power plant units available on the earth. They have

2 each General Electric Frame-9F gas turbine- each to generate 250 MWe and each cost 50 million US Dollar

2 each CMI Belgium design- Gulermak fabrication- with supplementary firing forced circulation type heat recovery steam generators - each cost 15 million US Dollar

1 each 300 MWe Alstom delivery 3-stage Steam Turbine - 60 million US Dollar

plus natural gas inlet facilities
plus water treatment- demineralization, water ponds, water cooling systems

Then the plant engineers invited us to their meeting room and explained the plant details with PC presentations,

since the land is in the special flight zone of military planes, plant is requested to use the nearby Ankara creek rather than dry type cooling towers

so plant uses the downstream water of Ankara Creek, highly polluted, carrying all dirt of Ankara household disposals, too difficult to clean

they spent overall 500 million US Dollars for the total investment

they initiated the project in 1998 as feasibility, completed the plant construction in 2004 within net 27 months

they will receive natural gas from BOTAS national gas distribution company

and they will deliver their power generation 700 to 770 MWe maximum to Public electricity distribution company

They have no power to increase their output capacity, unless requested by public authority

although they need “Inlet Air Cooler” for Power Enhancement so that they can increase their power output approximately by 10 % as elsewhere

Public authority decides how much they should produce, all within certain rules, regulations, agreements and formulas

System will run for 16 years non-stop, and generate the investors steady income.

Investor French/ Belgium "SUEZ Energy International" company will earn routine annual income, together with local partner Mimag company which has 5% equity

We then completed our plant visit,

We had tea and cookies, thanked our hosts

Your writer was happy to learn that some of the plant engineers were his blog readers

They asked details in some of blog articles,

We took group photos at the main gate

we returned to Ankara, I took municipality coach to return home

we showed our colleagues what a good/ efficient, state-of-the art, latest technology combined cycle power plant is

At home I poured half a glass of a good red dry local wine, KalecikKarasi vintage 2003, to congratulate myself. It was a real good job.

Your comments are always welcome.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

Dear Colleagues

A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that, in being made, actually causes itself to become true. Although examples of self-fulfilling prophecies can be found in human literature as far back as ancient Greece and ancient India, it is 20th century sociologist Robert K. Merton who is credited with coining the expression "self-fulfilling prophecy" and formalising its structure and consequences. In his book Social Theory and Social Structure, Merton gives the following definition:

The self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behaviour which makes the original false conception come true.

Let us evaluate the latest situation and if this is "Self-fulfilling prophecy" or Strategic Investigation of the existing situation?

Further to my notes on latest Presidential Elections which is scheduled in late April 2007, we had a workshop in METU Alumni premises today to evaluate the various aspects in order to reach common wisdom on the subject.

We all agreed on that there will be no early general elections other than the regular scheduled election on November 2007. Normally we expect an early elections after a serious economic crises as happened twice before. There is no such case at this time.

On the other hand, a serious financial crises is expected in early 2007 in the local market due to the fragile social atmosphere. That will create a difficult time for the people in Turkey in the short run. We cannot estimate how the management in power will handle these difficult times.

We understand that Soldiers had already had that brainstorming within their ranks and they have reached a certain inside consensus which is not yet made public.

On the other hand, there is no response from business circles, no evaluation nor any statement from local Industrialist & Businessmen Association nor from local Chamber of Commerce. They all are seemed to be so silent, appearing to accept the statu-quo. We really need to know what they know that we do not know at this time. Are we in METU Alumni, too sensitive? Are we exaggerating the situation?

In a recent study created by Mr. Alim TELCI of Ak-Investment in local SABANCI group of companies, he evaluates various scenarios and in his final scenario the existing chairman of the ruling party becomes the next president with almost 70% probability, and the next general elections create a coalition between two right wing parties.

We understand that all related parties have a certain consensus not to create too much social tension, nor any interference during election period. Foreign experts reinforce above brief analysis as in the latest reports of Morgan Stanley and Standard & Poors.

Reputable foreign correspondents who are stationed in Turkey, and those who are very competent in analyzing the local politics, are also surprisingly so silent. They are seemed to be unable to evaluate the silence in the local intellectual environment

In our workshop today in METU Alumni in Ankara, we evaluated all parameters with the available information already made public, and decided to form an Alumni Council in February 2007. We also wish to bring together all interested NGOs in our premises in a workshop. We shall then release public statements to inform the public what we feel and think and advise. Please advise if above is still "Self-Fulfilling Prophecy" Your comments are always welcome.

It is snowing in Ankara

Early this morning, it is snowing in Ankara. The season’s first real snow. The city is putting its white clothes on slowly, calmly. Children rushing here and there in the snow. Well, it is not enough to build snowman or ride sleds. But it is falling, and snow on the trees and children in the snow is enough to compose a beatiful picture and lead to flashbacks.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

La Bohéme in Ankara Opera House

For many, a sophisticated new French name plus a bunch of books in the library plus dirty living quarters occupied by empty cheap wine bottles is equal to "Bohemian." On the other hand legendary names like Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde, William Burroughs, Toulouse-Lautrec, Jackson Pollock and Picasso have been pinned down as famous bohemians. Sometimes they were applauded as free spirits seeking a spiritual fuel when the world seems a barren place and sometimes despised as aliens rejecting the conformist mindset and culture of the era. Yet it's hard to catalogue and neatly package the nature of bohemians. Emerging in the 19th century, "bohemian" was used to describe artists, writers, and disillusioned people of all sorts who wished to live non-traditional lifestyles.

Fashionably speaking, bohemian was defined as a class of its own. It flourished in many cities, in Schwabing in Munich; Montmartre, Montparnasse and later the Latin Quarter in Paris; Greenwich Village in New York; Chelsea and Soho in London. As it now no longer exists anywhere, we will now take a trip to the Latin Quarter to visit Puccini's four Bohemians. In this trip our guide will be famous opera director Flavio Trevisan, who is staging Giacomo Puccini's most famous and popular opera as well as one of the most performed operas in the standard operatic repertoire, "La Boheme," whose gala debut will be held tonight at the Ankara State Opera and Ballet.

"Turkey's extraordinary opera tradition"I wish Ankara had a stage proper to the capital of Turkey," said Trevisan. "Everybody works hard, most of them dedicate their lives to the art in Ankara but it's not enough at some point. There are lots of problems to be solved. But despite every hardship, being in Ankara is a great experience for me." The director added that the opera tradition of Turkey shouldn't be disregarded. "When we look at the biographies of opera stars, almost all of them appeared on the Istanbul Opera House stage. This tradition has to continue. Turkey, unique in the Oriental world, is the door to Europe," he said.With stars in his eyes, Trevisan told of his friendship with Leyla Gencer: "One of my best friends is Leyla Gencer. Do you know how she is called in Italy? Legend? Turkish diva? No, none of them. They call her 'majesty' since she performed all queens of opera history. When she was on stage she didn't need to do something special, her holding her hand was enough to be mesmerized by her aura; people shouted, 'There she is, her majesty!' "

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's “Idomeneo,” the opera which caused a debate when it premiered at Deutsche Oper, a Berlin opera house, in late 2006, had its Turkey premiere last month at the Izmir Opera House. The Izmir State Opera and Ballet performs the three-act opera accompanied by the orchestra under the baton of musical director Winfried Müller. The opera, which Mozart is believed to have said was his favorite, is based on an epic story titled “The Aeneid” written by Publius Virgilius Maro (70 B.C.-A.D.19), which centers on the Trojan War. It is set in Crete in about 1,200 B.C. The libretto was adapted by Giambattista Varesco from a French text by Antoine Danchet, which had been set to music by André Campra as “Idoménée” in 1712. In Izmir Opera House, the director is Mehmet Ergüven and the set design belongs to Tayfun Cebi, while costumes were designed by Sevda Aksakoglu. In the leading roles are Arda Dogan, Aytul Buyuksarac, Birgul Su Aric, Linet Saul, Ahmet Baykara and Oguz Çimen. Deutsche Oper's revival of “Idomeneo” featured a scene in which the Prophet Mohammed, Jesus and Buddha were beheaded by Idomeneo, and this caused fears of backlash among the Muslim community in Europe and thus the opera house decided to cancel the production. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for the production to be staged by highlighting the dangers of “self-censorship out of fear.” The play was performed in December in Berlin and the German police stated that they saw no threat in terms of security. In the Opera booklet, IZDOB director Alparslan Mater said in a statement that “Idomeneo” actually was set in the 12th century B.C. and the Deutsche Oper rendition was based on the director's interpretation. Furthermore he said the IZDOB would stick to the original plot. Mater said the opera's main message was that “anybody who fights back against the divine force should be ready to pay a price for this, sooner or later.”

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Literature Club

Dear Colleagues

We have organised a new club event in our ODTU Alumni Premises. That is "Literature Club" to gather the interested Alumni members. Here are our early preparations. We wish to have your comments and further contributions in certain loose items, which we do not know how to proceed at this time

Here is the preliminary structure of our Literature club in our Alumni Association in Ankara

We shall initiate evaluations of the novels from the early days to the contemporary creations with certain selection criterias in our minds. Our preliminary novel list will include local and international books

We shall evaluate the writer and his/her period

The evaluation of his/her period in the history, social, political, technical (famine, war, plague, economic crises, industrial developments, social revolutions, cold war, drastic changes in social life, change in country ruling etc)

Evaluation of other writers in the same period

Plot, theme, language, structure of sentences, wording organisation in the subject novel etc

From time to time, Invitation of a contemporary writer to our Alumni premises to review his books

Meeting every 2-weeks in our Alumni premises (Thursday at 1900 hours) Review of the selected books prior to bi-weekly regular meeting by members

Evaluation of the pre-selected book-of-the-week

Here is the draft list of the recommended books (novels)
Hay bin Yakzan- Ibni Sina-Ibni Tufeyli (Middle Eastern- Middle Ages)
Robinson Crusoe- by Daniel Dafoe
Portrait of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde
Novel in Industrial revolution 1800-1900 - Queen Victoria period
La Condition humaine, 1933 (Man's Fate, 1934) André Malraux
China and far east in 1900s
Erich Maria Remarque- A Time to Love and a Time to Die
A wedding night- by Ms Adalet Agaoglu (Turkish)
47's- by Ms Firuzan (Turkish),
One day all alone- by Vedat Turkali (in Turkish)
Only hot ashes remained- by Ms Oya Baydar (in Turkish)

That list will continue since there are many good books to review

So here is our draft announcement for Alumni members

"We have a new Literature Club in our Alumni premises. We expect you to participate to our Thursday night regular meetings in every two weeks at 1900 hours. We would like to read, review and evaluate in our Literature hour. Please do join us on 25th Jan 2007 Thursday night at 1900 hours"

I would like to ask my Blog readers to advise me written document(s) how to organise and how to apply what procedures for such a gathering in our club premises.

Any sort of comment, evaluation, any document will be very helpful. Thank you in advance

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Next Presidential Elections

Dear Colleagues

In April 2007, we shall have our next Presidential Elections in our parliament. It is general expectation that the existing ruling party will nominate their Chairman as the next President for next 7-years. There are certain sides that the elections are all over, and the next president is already known.

However since there are certain evidences that the existing majority party Chairman has his past record against the historical constitutional secular principles, there will be huge opposition for his elections for the top post.

If the ruling party Chairman or any other leading nominee from his party will become the new President, he will certainly push the country with all measures, legislations, appointments towards a new environment as moderate Islamic republic in the region. So all secular forces are to defend the existing Western Democratic system to prevail.

So let us try to foresee the elections what if we can do or cannot do in future regarding the elections in April 2007. Upon his election, the new president will enforce all measures, appointments, legislations against constitutional secular law. There will be huge legal and civil reaction. There will be mass demonstrations in the Capital City. Maybe one or more millions of ordinary citizens will walk on the streets of the capital city to declare their opposition. Will it work? It worked in Venezuella.

All types of sarcastic and even humiliating/ ridiculating jokes, stories against him will be created, as was usual practice in the past. His own life will be under magnifying glass at all times as well as his family members, and there will be no immunity in that respect. All his past commercial transactions will be evaluated/ criticized/ severely scrutinized. On the next general elections his party may not have majority in the Parliament and if so then he will be courted and maybe released from his post. That will be a very humiliating experience in our parliamentarian history.

On the other hand, a serious financial crises is expected in early 2007 in the local market due to this fragile social athmosphere. That will create a difficult time for the people in Turkey in the short run. We cannot estimate how the management in power will handle these difficult times.

It is our understanding that our Military Upper Management has already had that brainstorming within their ranks and they have reached a certain inside consensus which is not yet made public.

This election process is a very good opportunity for ourselves in order to have more brainstorming and intellectual contribution to think on “The best election process for Presidential post in Turkey. What should be the qualifications of our President? How should he/she be elected?”. We can further organize panels, seminars. The Middle East Technical University's Alumni Association has created a new working group to review the local Presidential election process in detail in their Ankara premises.

This review is written in English so that we invite all international interested readers to review the issue and put their intellectual contributions. It is not incorrect to say that there is almost limited or no application of local penal law if a document is written and released in a foreign language. That is a fact that we always feel the difficulty in "Freedom of Expression" in your own language.

Article 26 of the Constitution of Turkey guarantees the right to "Freedom of Expression and Dissemination of Thought". Moreover, the Republic of Turkey is a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights and submits to the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. The constitutional freedom of expression may be limited by provisions in other laws, of which Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which outlaws insulting Turkishness.

This article will also be a test of "Blogs" against written local Media sources which are under close control of certain commercial interest groups. Your comments are always welcome. Thank you & best regards