Friday, July 19, 2013

La Boheme- Concert in Bilkent Odeon, Ankara

"La Boheme" concert  in Bilkent Odeon, Ankara

Dear Opera lovers,

On the evening of Thursday, June 27, 2013, all our family members were in Ankara Bilkent Odeon, an open-air outdoor environment.  We have witnessed a great orchestra, magnificent performance, with some minor reservations I will explain later.

We had our pet water bottles, chair insulators, fleece blankets, binoculars, cameras. Your critic was also ready with notebook and pencil to record everything for our readers.

Earlier I made some search in youtube for similar concert performances of famous operas as presented elsewhere in the world.

Full records in youtube were from Rome in 1987, and Amsterdam ConcertGebauw 2013.

Other short videos were from following open air concerts,
Angela Gheorghiu-Luciano Pavarotti concert in Modena in 2001, 
Anna Netrebko-Rolando Villazon-in Berlin 2006 .
Andrea Bocelli with Pretty Yende,  NY Central Park in 2011

I noticed that all singers were using high volume acustic microphones, and singing direct to the audience, in order to make themselves audible easily,  without acting and without moving their head elsewhere.

We got our tickets at about 19:30, seats were free to choose, no numbers reserved. At 20:00 hours, entrance doors were opened,  we entered into the concert  oditorium, rushed for middle row seats. These were the best locations to hear the concert, proven by experience earlier. We have kept chairs, right front center, put our belongings- insulation mats on perforated metal chairs to reserve for our late-commer family members. Concert begun at 20:30 sharp.

Bulgarian opera festival  choir had 16 men and 16 women singers. They were far behind the scenes, so their voices reached relatively  weak to the audience. Sopranos of choire also performed children's song in the second act.

I believe that children's songs are to be sung by children only, not by grown up adults. My younger son, then at the age of 10, was in children's choir in the same opera when it was directed by maister Antonio Pirolli, years ago. I watched each one of performance whole season with great pleasure. In Italy it is always played by children.

Our famous local stand-up comedian Cem Yilmaz, defined this place as "bath" during his first and unfortunately the last performance due to hot- greenhouse environment created by rain covers on top, years ago. Turkish baths have at least good acoustics. 

Late at night, we had refreshing breeze, but we had no proper sound to listen to. Without proper and powerful microphones, it is imposible to perform any concert here.

Bilkent odeon is a modern copy of our Aspendos antic amphy theatre with 4000 spectator capacity, however in order to protect audience from heavy rain, plastic cover on top is added. That plastic panels absorb sound, and you hear almost nothing.

Artists were required to play with their natural sound, with no microphone assistance.  When they acted as in opera performance, and turned their heads to rear, left or right, it was  impossible for us to hear them. They should use powerful microphones. They should not act, just sing towards audience.

Orchestra was in the middle stage as usual for concert versions, singers should be in line with the conductor. They were in front, so conductor could only see them from big Tv screens. I am doubtful if he could see them.

As a whole, modern type staging was nice, costumes were more up to date, casual, players consumed two bottles of local red wine(Angora), a big basket of local bread. Coat rack in the middle was a problem, fortunatelt they threw out the scene at the end.

In "La Boheme" Opera performance, the characters Mimi (Burcu Uyar) and Musetta (Gorkem Ezgi Yıldırım) were extraordinary in their respective roles. High-pitched female voices reached us better. I am really "enchanted" same as Danny Kaye while listening to Beverly Sills years ago.

The poet Rodolfo (Bulent Bezdüz), the painter Marcello (Serkan Kocadere), the philosopher Colline (Tuncay Kurtoğlu) were experienced voices, nicely balanced.

Schaunard (Inanç Makinel), Benoit (Umit Kosman), Alcindoro (Beran Sertkaya), Parpignol (Serkan Bodur), were in short but very supporting roles, however  hard male voices were barely heard due to sound absorption of the environment.

Bilkent Orchestra, gorgeous, flawless Machinery as usual, one of the best in the world, I should say, with their maistro "Isin Metin", they created wonderful opera music despite of accoustics disaster.

I should advise Bilkent university administrators that they must find remedy for this situation as early as possible. They are one of the best institutions of the country, one of the best in worldwide lists in academic studies, with lots of researchers, even on underwater accoustics, this is the most important problem that they should engage a solution.

Accoustics should be corrected, this not releated with money, it is only a matter of time, effort, dedication to solve the problem, they should add or deduct roofing material, put more panels, whatever, anyhow in the end we should have a proper environment to listen to our world class singers and our extraordinary orchestra.

Acoustics should not discourage us for future sinilar open-air opera programs. We have now more expectations for similar outdoor opera performances with our magnificient orchestra, in future. Acoustics will be solved sooner or later. 

In the short tem, to eliminate acoustics disadvantage, Singers should stop acting as in opera, but they should line up with the conductor, use powerful microphones, sing direct to the audience. We expect more to come. We all deserve that extraordinary opera performances more and more  in Bilkent environment.

Sisypus of Prinkipo , in Prinkipo island near Istanbul, Turkey

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of METU Alumni and Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Rigoletto, Naples 1924, in Ankara Opera House

Dear Opera Lovers, 

Ankara Opera house is established in early new republic years of 1930s. Today we shall talk about latest Opera performance. Guiseppe Verdi's  "Rigoletto" was on stage in Ankara Opera House on May 20-22-25, 2013. 

In our opera environment, a critic/ writer is expected to be graduate of  conservatory with education on classical music, in order to write an essay on an opera performance, and  s/he has to be constructive at all times since opera performances are hard to play. I feel that this conception is not true. We do not have only music, but we have decor, costumes, roles, characters, and environment on the stage. If you are an opera fan, you should write and comment on what you feel.

Money does not buy everything for you, but money can buy you opera tickets. Enjoyment is up to you. Before writing this article, I saw "Rigoletto" opera in three separate nights. Opera is played  on May 20-22-25 at 20:00 in Ankara Opera Stage.

Rigoletto is a character of 16th century, a Clown. Opera  is based on a story written by Viktor Hugo in year 1832. Libretto (lyrics) is written by Francesco Maria Piave in accordance with the cencorship of the time so that time, place and names were changed. 

First performance took place in Venice in 1851. In Ankara opera house, first performance was in year 1950. I remember classic opera performance of  Rigoletto at 16th century in Mantua when I was a kid.   At that time,  "La Donna Mobile" in 3rd act was translated and sung in Turkish as "Women are fickle," now it is played in original Italian, and up- screen digital translation is "Women are variable", surely  it is more accurate.

In year 2010, I watched Rigoletto in Hamburg opera house in classic 16th century Mantua environment. I was played non-stop without any brake, started at 17:00 completed at 19:00 hours. We were too tired to watch, singers should have spent great effort at that time to complete. My seat was at the last row of parter. Singers were mostly foreigners, with a few German nationals in leading roles and in choir.

In the opera, womenizer Duca di Montova seduces daughter of Earl of Montereno. Rigoletto makes fun of Earl, he is then cursed by the father. Later Rigoletto's daughter Gilda is abducted, and raped by Duca. Rigoletto, to take revenge for his daughter's shame, hires a contract killer- Sparafucile to kill Duca. Final ends very painful.

Before watching Opera performance, I listened to the CD at home and at work many times. More or less, I was able to follow the tunes, after my listen count multiplied, I could follow more easily. I loved the melodic tune of Verdi's opera from start to finish.

The most beutiful full version as in youtube video was one that was made for the movie  in real Italian Mantua environment. "Placido Domingo", was playing the character of Rigoletto.  I watched for more than two hours without breathing. 

"Luciano Pavarotti" playing in the role of "Duca di Mantova" in Vienna State Opera was also extravagant, sumptuous, extraordinary.

New York Metropolitan Opera, performance was adapted into "LasVegas 1960" environment for year 2012 staging. Duca plays "Frank Sinatra" like character, and  "Marilyn Monreo" emerges as the Countess. Rigoletto, is now a nightclub bartender.

National Opera in London in year 1982, they played as adapted into  "New York Mafia" which was a modern staging environment. 

Wales Opera, American President's office  (the Oval Office) have been used for the new adaptation. Duke was too flirtatious, and he was President John F. Kennedy.

In modern staging, hunchback clown Rigoletto is now a normal human being.

Directed by Mrs. Yekta Kara in Ankara Opera House, we are now in 1924  Mafia environment in Naples, Italy. There are many beautiful women on the stage. We have more  than 40 hitmen of local Mafia organisation whose boss is Duca. We wonder why we have more than 40 male voices in Mafia choire, where other performances do not have more than 20 members.  Mafia choire sound is so high - so great that front seats of audience should have been abused with high volume.

Rigoletto character is played by Eralp Kiyici, with a great- perfect sound as usual, however we have the impression that he is in 16th century Mantua charecter but not in year 1924 of Naples. Maybe he could not escape his classic role as he played many times earlier.

On the other hand, Çetin Kıranbay plays the same role, clad in a more modern character of Rigoletto, with a great "Al Pacino" look added.

Three beautiful soprano voices alternately starring in Ankara Opera with gorgeous  appearence. In the role of Gilda, Çiğdem Önol, Görkem Ezgi Yıldırım, and Esra Çetiner. 

I felt that I need to watch each one of the three nights, and I bought tickets to all three performances.  We do not have any other similar new Opera staging this year in Ankara.

The role of "Duca di Mantova" is played by tenors  Ihsan Akbar, Senol Talınlı and Murat Karahan, all strong, lyrical male sounds. But they should avoid physical contacts with the girls to explain how charming- how flirtatious they are. Tenor  Ihsan Akbar, lost his voice in the last act, however recovered later.

I will make certain distinction between our sopranos. Çiğdem Önal is an experienced great voice, but I wonder if  she did heat up her voice properly earlier, so in the first act, her sound was too weak. We heard director's- angry, sad, desperate, frantic reaction from her soundproofed cubucle. Anyhow our soprano has reached to her melodic tone later.

On May 22, our lead soprano was played by young newcover extraordinary Gorkem Ezgi Yildirim. She played the role of innocent young girl, Gilda, her age, her physical structure with her melodic soft sound were all very appropriate.

Last soprano, Esra Çetiner in the role of Gilda is another new talent, she performed an excellent character.

Esra and Görkem are still young, and in this role in particular is very convenient. we hope that soon we sahall see them on great opera stages around the world. 

Duke (Duca di Mantova) role is played by tenors Ihsan Akbar, Senol Talınlı and Murat Karahan. I feel that Murat Karahan was the best, with appearence, voice and young flirtatious manners.

Singing aria"La Donna Mobile"  song is not correct  while sitting on a chair with legs on the table. The body could not produce sound properly. Voice choking. In New York Metropolitan Opera, the same song inspired by "Frank Sinatra", Duca, is standing on the stage as if he is singing rock music.

In the 2nd and 3rd acts, the engine voice of the platforms were mixed with orchestra's music. It should be avoided. It is also to difficult for leading roles to climb third floor of scaffolding, and then  they start to sing. It is too tiring.

We have a new interpretation in the last act. Rigoletto commits suicide with a gun, upon agony of loosing her daughter, then opera fills with last mighty sad music of orchestra. This is new. Is it true? I do not know. Rigoletto is staging a suicide for the first time.

Although in our traditional environment, I would expect Rigoletto to take his revenge. Rigoletto should live with his suffering. This is an easy and politically incorrect solution for Rigoletto's fate. Anyhow final was very dramatic.

Duca and Sparafucile live at the end, and we feel that justice is not fulfilled.

Short roles in "Contessa di Ceprano",  Güzin Yildiz, Meltem Gençtürk, Sinem Mustafaoğlu, enticing the role of Maddalena, -Yetişer Ferda, Oylun Erda, Sebnem- especially in the role of the bad guy assassin Sparafucile- Kurtoğlu Tuncay, Sabri Karabudak, Can Kocaay- were so good. I love the opera villains. It is too difficult to play the role of the bad guy right. I congratulate each one of them separately.

"Rigoletto" in Ankara Opera house was the work of exceptional world- class staging. Opera house was full in all three nights with many audiences at standing at sides. Mafia choire was perfect and strong from start to finish. Conductors, Rengin Gökmen (1-2. nights) and Alessandro Cedrano (3rd night) accomplished extraordinary  work.

Rigoletto opera was later repeated in Aspendos Opera festival in Antalya on 15 June 2013, also in Istanbul opera festival in July  2013. We hope to see in the next season in Ankara Opera house stage again.  With deepest regards. Prinkipo, 18 July 2013

Sisypus of Prinkipo , in Prinkipo island near Istanbul, Turkey

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of METU Alumni and Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

Click to join EnergyNewsletterTurkey

Click to join EnergyNewsletterTurkey

Free Blog Counter