The latest figures by the Turkish Statistical Agency (TurkStat) revealed that although the number of opera and ballet audiences increased, the audience for orchestra and choir performances has significantly dropped. In the 2016-17 season, the audience for operas and ballet performances showed a 3.1 percent increase and rose to 281,069 people, while orchestra and choirs saw a 11.3 percent decline in their audience, to 411,060.
Although the history of opera and ballet performances in Turkey date back to the Ottoman times, they have found a wider audience in the second half of the 20th century and thrived from the 1970s after the foundation of a state-run opera and ballet company. Still, those art forms lag behind others. TurkStat figures show opera and ballet performances were performed in six cities and there were only six orchestras, 13 choirs and nine musical groups under the auspices of state-run General Directorate of Fine Arts.
Figures indicate that the number of shows performed at opera and ballet halls increased 16.5 percent to 198, compared to the previous season, although the number of performances showed a 1 percent decline. Though TurkStat did not reveal the profile of opera and ballet audiences, it released the number of audiences for orchestra and choir performances. Diyarbakır, a southeastern city with few leisure options in the past showed a staggering 747.6 percent rise in the number of audiences for choirs. Similarly, the central city of Sivas doubled the number of audiences for choir performances.
Figures also looked into the rate of female performers in opera and ballets. Women made up 44.7 percent of performers this season, statistics showed.
In a bid to make opera and ballet more popular among the wider public, the Turkish government launched an ambitious project to build Europe's largest opera house in Istanbul.
The Atatürk Culture Center, a dilapidated building overlooking Taksim Square at the heart of the city, is being remodeled as a multi-purpose opera and ballet hall. The building was completely demolished this month and the construction of the new center is expected to be wrapped up in 2019.