IKSV marks 10th anniversary of Leyla Gencer's death with special events

A photo from Leyla Gencer’s performance of “Don Carlo” at La Scala in Milano in 1963.

The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) is set to hold special events to commemorate the 10th death anniversary of Leyla Gencer, one of the most prominent opera singers of the 20th century who was the chair of the board of trustees of IKSV until her death in 2008.

The exhibition titled "Leyla Gencer: Primadonna and Loneliness," curated by Yekta Kara, is going to kick off on Sept. 11, while the final series of the 9th Leyla Gencer Voice Contest organized by IKSV, Borusan Art and La Scala Theater Academy is scheduled for Sept. 23-28 in Istanbul. Also, a Leyla Gencer documentary, written by Zeynep Oral and directed by Selçuk Metin, is going to be screened at the end of the year.

'Leyla Gencer: Primadonna and Loneliness'

The exhibition "Leyla Gencer: Primadonna and Loneliness," organized by the IKSV, is going to be held in tribute to the sophisticated and emotional personality of great soprano Leyla Gencer, while presenting a sincere insight into her life on the 10th anniversary of her death.

The exhibition brings together records from different sections of the life of Leyla Gencer with a special selection prepared by Prof. Yekta Kara from the personal belongings of the great soprano. It is going to be held at the Borusan Music House with the contributions of Borusan Art.

Leyla Gencer evoked admiration in audiences with her unique interpretations and different dimensions she brought to the characters she acted out with her superior acting; proved that the art of opera is not just about sound and technique; found and reinterpreted many operas trapped in the archives thanks to her investigative personality and introduced them to the repertoires of theaters and shed light for young people. Professor Yekta Kara, who had the chance to work with Leyla Gencer, worked as a soloist, director and general art director and head stage director at the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet for 35 years. He is currently serving as an instructor at the State Conservatory Opera Department of the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University (MSGSÜ). On this occasion, professor Kara is going to draw attention to Leyla Gencer's dedication to arts as a soprano who conquered European stages and appeared as a prima donna at the La Scala Theater, considered to be the sanctuary of the classical music, for 25 years.

With the contributions of Borusan Art, "Leyla Gencer: Primadonna and Loneliness" is free to visit at Borusan Music House from 10 a.m. to 6. p.m., Sept. 11 to Oct. 10, except Sundays.

New stars of the opera world to rise from Istanbul

The 9th Leyla Gencer Voice Contest final series is going to be held in Istanbul from Sept. 23 to 28.

The final series of the Leyla Gencer Voice Contest, which is going to be organized by IKSV, Borusan Art and La Scala Theater Academy is going to be held in Istanbul from Sept. 23 to 28. A total of 44 singers from 15 countries from the Far East to the Americas, including 14 from Turkey, are going to compete.

As part of the three-stage final series, following the closed quarterfinal, the semifinal is going to be held at the Süreyya Opera from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sept. 26 to determine eight singers who are going to compete in the final.

The final gala is scheduled for the evening of Sept. 28 at the Lütfi Kırdar Convention and Exhibition Center in the accompaniment of the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra by conductor Pietro Mianiti. The jury is going to determine the winners of the three biggest awards, while the listeners are going to vote to choose the winner of the Leyla Gencer People's Prize.

Tickets for the 9th Leyla Gencer Voice Contest's semifinal and final galas can be purchased from the IKSV main box office and Biletix sales points as of Sept. 14.

For the final the eight young talents will compete for grand prizes at the Lütfi Kırdar Convention and Exhibition Center at 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28. The contestants are going to be accompanied by the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of conductor Pietro Mianiti.

The champion will be awarded 12,500 euros ($14,500), the runner up 7,500 euros and the third place winner 3,500 euros. The owner of the Leyla Gencer People's Prize, which is going to be determined by the votes of the listeners in the final, is going to be eligible to participate in a concert at the Istanbul Music Festival.

The contestant to receive the La Scala Theater Academy Special Prize is going to be eligible for a three-month training scholarship from the La Scala Theater Academy, while the contestant to receive the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra Special Prize is going to perform a concert accompanied by the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra.

In addition, the winner of the Deutsche Oper Berlin Special Award, which is going to be granted for the first time this year, is going to have a chance to play in one performance of this organization. The owner of the Jette Parker Young Artist Program Special Award, to be given by the British Royal Opera, is going to have the right to participate in auditions as well as four special training sessions at the organization.

The contest jury, headed by renowned baritone Renato Bruson, consists of Sascha Goetzel, the art director and regular conductor of Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra and one of the regular guest conductors of the Vienna State Opera, David Gowland, the art director of the British Royal Opera Jette Parker Young Artists Program, Toni Gradsack, the cast director of the La Scala Theatre, Prof. Yekta Kara, the former manager and general arts director of the Istanbul State Opera and Bale, MSGSÜ State Conservatory instructor and director, Christoph Seuferle, the opera director of Deutsche Oper Berlin and Alberto Triola, the art director of Valle d'Itria Festival.

Having made a name for itself in international music circles thanks to the young talents it has brought to the opera world, the Leyla Gencer Voice Contest is the only international voice competition held by Turkey. The voice contest, which is organized by IKSV, Borusan Art and the La Scala Theater Academy, is also contributed by Kadıköy Municipality Süreyya Opera and Italian Cultural Center.

The Leyla Gencer ​documentary

IKSV, which includes the Leyla Gencer Archive, is going to offer a documentary project prepared by taking advantage of the data in its archive in order to create a chance to get to know Leyla Gencer better during the 10th anniversary of her death. The documentary has been produced by IKSV, prepared in consultation with Ahmet Erenli and Yekta Kara, written by Zeynep Oral and directed by Selçuk Metin.

Having been shot in Milan and Istanbul, the documentary is going to be released in December. It includes exclusive interviews with figures who had the opportunity to know Leyla Gencer and to work with her, including musicologist and critic Lorenzo Arruga, author Franca Cella, La Scala Theater Academy founder Carlo Fontana, San Carlo Opera Mnager Rossana Purchia, director Ferzan Özpetek, Sferisto Opera Art Director Pier Luigi Pizzi, who is a a decorator and worked with Leyla Gencer for many years, 9th Leyla Gencer Voice Contest Jury Head Renato Bruson, Leyla Gencer Voice Contest participants Simge Büyükedesand Asude Karayavuz, 4th Leyla Gencer Voice Contest champion soprano Nino Machaidze, Borusan Art General Director Ahmet Erenli, IKSV General Manager Görgün Taner, Yekta Kara and La Scala Theater Academy Music Department Manager Daniele Borniquez.

About Leyla Gencer
Leyla Gencer, who left her mark on the 20th century opera world, was born in Istanbul on Oct. 10, 1928. She began her vocal training at the Istanbul Municipal Conservatory and continued with Italian soprano Giannina Arangi-Lombardi and Apollo Granforte. Soon after interpreting the Santuzza role in Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana at the Ankara State Opera in 1950, she became a well-known opera artist inside the country, receiving invitations to many important state events as a soprano. Gencer stepped into the Italian stages with the Santuzza role she played at the San Carlo Theater in Naples.

Leyla Gencer, the prima donna of the La Scala Theater which is considered to be the sanctuary of opera, worked with distinguished Italian conductors such as Vittorio Gui, Tullio Serafin, Gianandrea Gavazzeni and Riccardo Muti from 1957 to 1980. She unearthed the forgotten operas by Donizetti and successfully reinterpreted them, making a significant contribution to the development of the Donizetti Renaissance. With her wide range of repertory, Leyla Gencer played 72 roles ranging from lyrical soprano to dramatic coloratura. She abandoned opera stages in 1985. She continued concerts and recitals until 1992 and dedicated herself to training young artists later. Until her death in 2008, Gencer continued to work as an art director for the opera artists at the La Scala Theater and assumed the chairmanship of the board of trustees of the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts. Leyla Gencer died on May 10, 2008 at her home in Milan.

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