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Opera and Ballet in Turkey

Discover Turkey, home of opera and ballet

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Turkish Opera and Ballet

Take in a performance at the famous opera house in Istanbul, or find an opera and ballet festival in another town, or where the opera houses are in Turkey.

Performing Arts

In the period prior to the proclamation of the Republic in Turkey, opera, ballet and the theatre were mostly centred around Istanbul and Izmir. The first showing of opera at the imperial court was by artists trained by Guiseppe Donizetti (1788-1856) from the Italian opera.

During the Republic, Ahmet Adnan Saygun, Necil Kazim Akses and Cemal Resit Rey were the first composers of opera, operettas and musicals.

Turkish State Opera and Ballet

Notwithstanding the short history of opera in Turkey which only spans 56 years, Turkish State Opera and Ballet counts amongst its members many artists of international fame, and aside from Ankara and Istanbul, many other branches have been set up in cities around Turkey, results everywhere have been very successful.


Turkish Ballet

Meanwhile in 1947, the famous ballerina and teacher Ninette de Valois was invited to Istanbul and through her efforts, the National Ballet School was set up.

In 1956-1960, the first dancers graduated from Ankara State Conservatory and the State Opera formed a corps de ballet.

Cesmebasi which is one of the most important works in Turkish ballet history was first performed in 1965.

Turkish Opera

Adnan Saygun's first two operas, Ozsoy and Tasbebek, Necil Kazim Akses's Bay Onder staged in Ankara, a Mozart musical Bastien and Bastienne staged at the Ankara State Conservatory with pupils playing libretto in Turkish (1936), and the staging of western operas such as Madame Butterfly and Tosca (1940-1941).

The orchestrations, chorus and solo recitals of 1950-1952 all contributed to form a foundation for the establishment of today's State Opera and Ballet.


Opera and Ballet in Turkey

Ballet Festival, Bodrum, Mugla