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!' "

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