AKM to reopen with Mimar Sinan Opera
The Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM), a landmark of Istanbul, will reopen its doors on the 98th anniversary of the Turkish Republic on Oct. 29, with the “Mimar Sinan Opera,” a two-act work composed by Hasan Uçarsu.
According to Turkish media reports, the Mimar Sinan Opera and its composer have unique features.
The “Mimar Sinan Opera” breaks ground by being the first opera in 85 years requested by a Turkish president. “President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered the Mimar Sinan Opera in 2019 to be composed and performed at the opening of AKM,” daily Milliyet reported on Oct. 27.
In 1936, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, had requested Ahmet Adnan Saygun to compose the “Özsoy Opera” in honor of Iran’s then-leader Ahmad Reza Pahlavi’s visit to Turkey.
More than eight decades later, Uçarsu, one of Saygun’s pupils, composed the “Mimar Sinan Opera.”
“Mimar Sinan is a very special man who gave characteristics, soul and identity to Istanbul, the city I was born, raised and still live in,” Uçarsa told daily Hürriyet on Oct. 27.
Mimar Sinan, also known as “The Grand Architect” or “Grand Sinan,” was a 16th-century Ottoman architect and civil engineer for three Ottoman sultans: Suleiman the Magnificent, Selim II and Murat III. The Süleymaniye Mosque and the Selimiye Mosque were the two world-renowned works out of at least 374 structures he had built.
Another coincidence uniting Uçarsu and the AKM dates back to 13 years.
One of Uçarsu’s works, called Lamento, was performed at the AKM in 2008, just before it was closed down.
“Uçarsu is the man who closed the AKM and is now reopening it,” daily Hürriyet said.
“As a resident of Istanbul and someone who visited AKM since my childhood, I am happy like a child to know that AKM will once again unite with the city,” Fecir Alptekin, the senior counselor of the presidency who followed the restoration works of the hall, told the daily Milliyet.
Telling about the journey of 2.5 years that went into the preparations of the “Mimar Sinan Opera,” Alptekin said, “The president wanted an indigenous work to be performed at the opening night and embraced our national opera.”
The libretto of the opera penned by Bertan Rona was indeed based on a movie script by Halit Refiğ, who died in 2009 at 75 years of age. The movie was never shot.
“Refiğ wrote in the preface of the script that ‘If this movie is shot someday, the music must be composed by Adnan Saygun.’ So Uçarsu, Saygun’s student, composed the opera instead,” Alptekin noted.
“Who knows, maybe one day a musician will compose a ‘Fatih Opera’ dedicated to Mehmed the Conquerer,” she stated.
The AKM building’s foundation was laid in 1946 and opened to service in 1969 but was closed down in 2008. The demolition works of the hall began in 2018 after being abandoned for 10 years. On Feb. 10, 2019, the construction of the new complex started.
An exhibition named “Yeniden” (Again), showing works of artists born after 1969, will be opened by Culture Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy on Oct. 30.