Nazım Hikmet musical makes premiere
The biographical musical “Ben Nazım” (I am Nazım), which brings the life of Turkish poet and novelist Nazım Hikmet to the stage with the new arrangements of Zülfü Livaneli songs and the acting of Engin Hepileri, had its world premiere at the Harbiye Cemil Topuzlu Open Air Theater on Sept. 20.
The play was staged with approximately 130 people, consisting of dancers, soloists, symphony and rock orchestras accompanying Hepileri at the premiere, which was held free of charge with the contributions of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.
Making a speech at the event, Livaneli said, “One of the greatest sons of our country is Nazım Hikmet. He was a lighthouse for our generation. He was one of the greatest poets of the 20th century who developed our literary language and made Turkish recognized as the language of literature among the world languages. When I was young, Nazım Hikmet was banned in Türkiye. His books were not published in his own language, in his own country. But he believed that one day his books will be published in his own language and his songs will be sung.”
The biographical musical, which aims at bringing an understanding of a new musical to Türkiye with world-class storytelling, consists of songs interpreted all over the world by Livaneli, who has been composing Nazım Hikmet’s poems since 1970.
Mehmet Balkan is the director and choreographer of the play while Rengim Gökmen is the musical director and conductor. Tolga Taviş arranged Livaneli’s works for the musical.
Hepileri is accompanied on stage by İlke Kodal as Vera, Deniz Alp as Piraye and Petek Çetintemel as Münevver. RockA band and soloists Görkem Ezgi Yıldırım (soprano), Sibel Gürsoy (vocals), Zeynep Halvaşi (mezzo soprano), Petra Nachtmanova (vocals, baglama), Serkan Taylan (tenor), Mehmet Yılmaz (bass baritone) and Teyfik Rodosun (bass).
The Duende Global Contemporary Dance Ensemble takes part with their dances in the show.
“Ben Nazım” will be staged in different parts of Türkiye and abroad.
Hikmet was born in 1902 in Thessaloniki and grew up in Anatolia. After studying economics and political science in Moscow, he returned home as a Marxist in 1924, a year after the new Turkish Republic was founded following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
After a court sentenced him to 15 years in prison for his poems and articles published in Aydınlık magazine, Hikmet fled from Türkiye and returned to Moscow.
Freed in 1950 under the general amnesty, he was awarded the “International Peace Prize” by the World Peace Council. In 1951, when he left Türkiye, his citizenship was revoked but restored 58 years later in 2009.
UNESCO declared 2002 the Year of Nazım Hikmet to mark the 100th anniversary of his birthday.
Hikmet died of a heart attack in Moscow in 1963 and is buried there.