Leyla Gencer Documentary – Turkish State Television Archives circa 2008

Leyla Gencer Documentary – Turkish State Television Archives circa 2008

Like many others, early in my career, I had lots of problems with my voice. I lost its calibre, its “location”, its pitch… didn’t know what to do I studied books in french … and found some hints in them. Again, I still had lots of problems. My first voice teacher was coming also from the french school of singing … I realized this vocal school was not fit for my voice..especially to the natural shape of my vocal chords The Conservatory in Ankara hired a famous Italian soprano. I had a chance to make myself listened to her here on a summer day, in Istanbul. She liked me and invited me to work with her (Arangi-Lombardi) in Ankara I studied with her a year and half. It was a different time… lots of world famous musicians came in Ankara In these days, classical music was taken very seriously in Turkey, even starting the presidential level… followed by the cultural affairs secretary…Opera and ballet were primordial topics in the official agenda Important figures of the world art scene came to Ankara for that reason…directors like Carl Ebert…vocal teachers like Mme Hidalgo…Mme Arangi-Lombardi… Apollo Grandforte In 1953, I went to Europe to have an audition It was not a pure coincidence…first, I wanted to have it, I was ambitious… in the same time I was becoming famous in Ankara in diplomatic circles as a singer The ambassador of Italy asked me if I want to go in Italy and have a concert in Italian Radio After my radio concert, I had two auditions in two different theatre. This involves in singing two or three arias in front of the music director of the theatre It is not super easy…but I had been successful.. besides working hard… I was lucky too… They hired me right on the spot… and that year, in 1953, I played in Cavalleria Rusticana… it was the summer…I believe July and by chance, important directors of that time were there Tullio Serafin… Fritz Rainer Tullio Serafin told me that they plan to stage Eugenia Onegin which was missing from the repertory for 50 years … and offered me the title role. I was very surprised and they added there is also Madama Butterfly… this is how I started then.. all other came one after other without trying to be someone else…or stepping on an established tradition of art…I did everything as I understood myself What I did 40 years ago is what people are considering a today’s reference without being aware of it… I did lead the way… back that time… there was so many traditional approaches to music…they didn’t find appropriate the way I did things they always told me “it is against the tradition” … and I replied … “But, your composer wrote like I do” It was a difficult stand and also a dangerous one for my career most young singers would say “yes” to the tradition and I always said “no” but in a polite way a polite way.. but with a lots of guts… at the time the TV was black and white. They made me sing Il Trovatore with a stellar cast… Barbieri as Mezzo-Soprano… Tenor Del Monaco and Baritone Bastianini I was a young girl amongst them… a kid All of them looked down at me with an attitude When I sung my parts, they always intervened and told me “Traditionally, it is done in another way”…. I always replied…”But your composer wrote in a different way” Pianos and pianissimis, no one did these back that time… the tradition was to use full voice on all over the soprano parties I sung as the composer wrote… in nowadays they say my Trovatore is the reference for all… The best trovatore… after 40 years


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