Ankara opens new opera ballet season
'Count Dracula' is among the new productions coming to the Ankara Opera scene.Ankara’s top thespians and dancers have returned to the stage for the 2014-2015 season with a new set of productions that look set to sell out.
Audiences will have the opportunity to see operas such as “Carmen,” “Tosca,” “Attila,” “Rigoletto,” “Abduction from the Seraglio” and “Don Giovani;” operettas like “Arşın Mal Alan” and “The Bat;” ballets such as “Count Dracula” and “Seraglio,” as well as musicals like “Lend Me a Tenor,” said Mustafa Erdoğan, director of the Ankara State Opera and Ballet (ADOB), noting that the selection consisted of a mix of local and foreign productions and closely resembled the works from last year.
Erdoğan said they had been continuing to produce new art projects for the new season. “Turkey has many big investments that have made an impression in the world over the last 10 years, but it will make the real impression when it plans to build the world’s largest opera building,” he said.
Interest in ‘Count Dracula’
Erdoğan said works like “Attila” and “Count Dracula” were staged in the second half of the season and that many people did not have the chance to see them. “Count Dracula” especially drew a lot of interest, he said, adding that ticket sales were limited to individual buyers so that more people could see the work.
“This work is one of our prides with its music, décor, costumes and choreography. It will continue drawing interest even if it is staged for long years,” he said.
Still, he said audiences complained about failing to find tickets because of halls with a low capacity, he said.
Erdoğan said that besides those plays, the “Bloody Nigar” operetta, composed by Cem İdiz, would also be on the stage.
“It will be very fun. I predict that it will draw great interest from audiences because this play has not been staged in Ankara for many years. It has been turned into an operetta for the first time. We are curious about it, too,” he said, adding that Shakespeare’s world renowned work “Hamlet” would be staged as a ballet this season.
Wear and tear on the body
Erdoğan said ADOB’s Birim Dance Theater (BDT), which is made up of artists above the age of 45, has also created a work inspired by famous minstrel Aşık Veysel’s folk song “Dostlar Beni Hatırlasın” (Friends Remember Me).
Noting that the BDT had filled an important gap, Erdoğan said: “In professional and classical terms, ballet cannot be done until an advanced age. It is the world’s hardest business which wears out the body. I assure you that 80 percent of our dancers are injured. They have serious damage to the legs, muscles, foot bones, arms, vertebra and especially femurs. Naturally, they cannot perform the movements of classical ballet and become idle at the age of 38.”
As such, the company devised a solution so that dancers could continue to work after the age 40, he said.
“This troupe was created with the initiative of [veteran choreographer] İhsan Bengier and, in this way, our friends will bring the gains of ballet to the stage as dance. They have created really good works,” he said, noting that dancers would thus be able to continue dancing until their retirement.
“If this system is applied in all operas and ballets, then we can get rid of the statements ‘ballet dancers are paid without working until the age of 65.’ This is why this should be implemented in other operas and ballets. Then we can have a good team that can perform dance and theater for more 25 years,” the ADOB head said.
Symphonic concerts to start
Erdoğan also said they would also give symphonic concerts with the DOB orchestra. “We see this season as a trial process and plan to make it a routine starting next year.” He said that in order to increase audience numbers, they would organize regular shows in universities and provinces in Ankara’s vicinity. “We want to perform the works that we have previously staged but then removed from the repertoire. In this way, we want to achieve a 25 percent increase in the number of viewers by the end of the year.”
Erdoğan also called on officials to build the world’s largest opera building in a similar fashion to how they were building the self-declared world’s largest airport in northern Istanbul.