Leyla Gencer to be commemorated with special events
The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) commemorates “La Diva Turca” Leyla Gencer on the 10th anniversary of her death.
The 9th Leyla Gencer Voice Competition, organized by the İKSV, Borusan Sanat and Accademia Teatro alla Scala, will have its final series in Istanbul. Besides this triennial event, an exhibition entitled “Leyla Gencer: Primadonna and Solitude” will open to the public on Sept. 11, and a special documentary scripted by Zeynep Oral and directed by Selçuk Metin will be released at the end of the year.
The exhibition is curated by Yekta Kara, who has served consecutively as a soloist, intendant, artistic director and director-in-chief at the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet for 35 years and is currently a professor at the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University State Conservatory Opera Department.
She has also had the opportunity to work with Gencer in person. In this exhibition, she highlights Gencer’s dedication to her art throughout her stellar career spanning the world’s leading opera houses and her 25 years as the glorious primadonna of Teatro alla Scala.
“The Leyla Gencer: Primadonna and Solitude” exhibition will be at Borusan Music House between Sept. 11 and Oct. 10.
The 9th Leyla Gencer Voice Competition will have its final series on Sept. 23-28 in Istanbul, where 44 singers from 15 countries spanning from the Far East to the United States, including 14 from Turkey, will compete for prizes and special awards.
Following the non-public quarterfinals on Sept. 24 and 25, the competition will open its doors to the audience with the semi-final on Sept. 26 at the Süreyya Opera House. The grand final of the competition will be at the Lütfi Kırdar Convention and Exhibition Center on Sept. 28.
The Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of the Italian conductor Pietro Mianiti, will accompany the finalists. In this night, while the jury determines the winners of the three prizes, the audience will choose the winner of the Leyla Gencer Audience Award.
Tickets for the semi-final and the final gala will be on sale on Sept. 14.
A special documentary for Gencer
The İKSV is producing a Leyla Gencer documentary with a view to giving more insight to the life and art of the great diva on the 10th anniversary of her death. The documentary, benefiting from the archives in the İKSV as well as from interviews with people who knew her in person, has Zeynep Oral as the scriptwriter, Ahmet Erenli and Yekta Kara as consultants and is directed by Selçuk Metin.
The documentary, which will be shot in Milan and Istanbul and is planned to be screened in December, includes exclusive interviews with public figures who have had an opportunity to work with Gencer.
The names that will be involved in the documentary include musicologist and critic Lorenzo Arruga, author Franca Cella, Accademia Teatro alla Scala founder Carlo Fontana, Teatro di San Carlo general manager Rossana Purcha, director Ferzan Özpetek, decorator and Sferisto Opera art director Pier Luigi Pizzi who also worked with Leyla Gencer in her operas for many years, this year’s competition jury president Renato Bruson, Leyla Gencer Voice Competition participants Simge Büyükedes and Asude Karayavuz, 2006 Leyla Gencer Voice Competition winner soprano Nino Machaidze, Borusan Sanat General Director Ahmet Erenli, İKSV General Director Görgün Taner, Leyla Gencer: Primadonna and Solitude exhibition curator Yekta Kara, and Accademia Teatro alla Scala music department manager Daniele Borniquez.
Gencer, one of the greatest sopranos of the 20th century, was born in Istanbul. She performed with the Ankara State Opera and Ballet Chorus until she made her operatic debut as Santuzza in Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana in 1950. In only a few years, Gencer became a recognized performer and was regularly invited to perform at Turkish government ceremonies.
Between 1957-1980, having achieved an international career in a very short time and performed with distinguished Italian maestros such as Vittorio Gui, Tulio Serafin, Gianandrea Gavazzeni and Riccardo Muti, Gencer’s outstanding performances of Donizetti’s forgotten operas inscribed her name in all opera books, identifying the great soprano with the “Donizetti Renaissance.”
Until her passing in 2008, Gencer was the artistic director of the academy for opera artists in Teatro alla Scala, where she also taught opera interpretation. She has also served as president of the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts’ board of trustees. Leyla Gencer passed away on May 10, 2008 at her home in Milan.