Turkish tenor to perform with opera stars at Bolshoi Theater

Turkish tenor to perform with opera stars at Bolshoi Theater

Turkish tenor to perform with opera stars at Bolshoi Theater

Murat Karahan, a Turkish tenor and general manager of the State Opera and Ballet of Turkey, will be performing Italian composer Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca at Russia’s Bolshoi Theater with opera stars Anna Netrebko and Placido Domingo.

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Karahan said he will be taking the stage with the greatest soprano Netrebko and a legend of world opera would be conducting the show.

“This is my sixth year at the Bolshoi since 2015. I have been performing as a soloist for six seasons. I made many productions there and about 30 representations. I did dozens of representations, even during the (coronavirus) pandemic,” he said.

“I performed four different performances in seven days in two separate productions, and it is, perhaps, one of the nights that went down in history at the Bolshoi. So we've had a good relationship with the Bolshoi for a long time. Both the theater and the Russian people loved it and adopted it.”

He said a few performances were canceled as the Bolshoi was forced to close for a while due to the pandemic.

“When they were open, they actually worked with artists from the former Soviet republics with limited capacity, since there were travel restrictions, mostly within Russia,” he explained.

As things move toward normalcy, they have started inviting performers from abroad, he said, adding that he was one of the singers invited to perform Tosca from Oct. 12-14 and Oct. 16.

“It’s something I've performed many times. There was no need for extra preparation. Rehearsals start 10 to 15 days before the performance, depending on the situation. Then the musical rehearsals start a week before,” he said.

Karahan said he had previously performed with Domingo at the Arena di Verona and had personally known Netrebko for years but they never performed together.

“After I became the general manager (of the State Opera and Ballet of Turkey) in 2018, I reduced my activities in Europe and around the globe. I had to turn down some representations and work. But we have a very close bond of love, and I really enjoy performing in Verona and at the Bolshoi, so I can never turn them down,” he said.

Karahan received a standing ovation after his performance at the Arena di Verona. When referred to this, he said the biggest value and gain in an artist's life is applause.

“When you get that applause in an arena where the best artists performed for 2,000 years, and when you do this as a Turkish artist, it is a very different feeling, an indescribable feeling,” he said.

He emphasized that as a Turkish artist, he felt pride in representing his country at the Bolshoi as well as in Vienna, Berlin, Munich, Naples, San Carlo, Turin, Palermo and many other places.

'When singing Tosca, I dedicate it to Atatürk'

“E lucevan le stelle is Ataturk's favorite aria. His favorite opera is Tosca,” he said, referring to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey.

Karahan noted that Ataturk’s admiration for opera started when he was a military attaché in Bulgaria, and the foundation of opera in Turkey was laid when Ataturk watched the Tosca opera in Bulgaria.

“I always dedicate the Tosca opera and the aria of E lucevan le stelle to the memory of Ataturk wherever I sing it,” he said.

'Pandemic kept artists away from the place they belong’

Karahan said artists were hard hit by the pandemic and that it was not at all relaxing to stay away from the stage for a year.

“It creates a separate kind of tiredness because you are separated from the place where you belong, where you are happy, so this is the opposite,” he said.

As vaccination prevalence increases, Karahan said they are trying to perform with minimum risk as all art institutions in the world have opened their stages.

“The New York Metropolitan Opera said it wouldn't open until January, but they changed their minds and opened their stages this month. There is no opera left in the world whose stage is closed. Some places work with half capacity. Some countries have increased the mask and distance policy, trying to comply with the system,” he noted.