Triumphant “Turandot” at the opening of the 10th Istanbul Opera International Festival on 2nd and 3rd July 2019


Organized by the Culture and Tourism Ministry State Opera and Ballet General Directorate, the Opera International Festival of Istanbul celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and continue until July 14 at the Istanbul Zorlu Performing Arts Center (PSM).

Popolo di Pechino
Elegant Umut Kosman as the Mandarin

Opening the Festival, the Ankara State Opera and Ballet presented  “Turandot”, the last opera of Giacomo Puccini on July 2 and 3.

La sconfitta di Turandot
Lilla Lee (Turandot) recognises her defeat in front of her father, the Emperor Altoum ( Cem Akyùz)

Staged by famous Italian guest director Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini, the leading role in “Turandot” opera was performed by Korean soloist Lilla Lee on July 2 and Kazakh soloist Zhupar Gabdullina on July 3.

Efe Kislali & Lilla Lee

The Prömiyer was a great success and the Korean Turandot Lilla Lee was very much appreciated by the audience, as well as the delicate sensituìivity of yourg Conductor, Maestro Murat Cem Orhan.

Ping Pang Pong
Wonderful Ping (çetin Kiranbay), Pang (Emre Akkus) and Pong (Arda Dogan)

Needless to say that Tenor Efe Kislali as Calaf was requested to sing once again the famous aria “Nessun Dorma” and was triumphally celebrated, as well as Tugba Mankal Dekak and Seda Araci Ayazli (Liù), together with Şafak Güç and Ozgür Savaş Gençtürk, fantastic Timur !

Morte di Liù
Liù’s Death

As reported by the cultural autorities of Kazakhstan, “Vocal skills, beauty, and power of voice, bright acting talent of sought-after opera singer Zhupar Gabdullina are widely known to the audience in many countries. Most recently, the Principal Soloist performed with great success in Turkey at the opening of the anniversary 10th International Istanbul Festival of Opera and Ballet, where she presented the title role of Turandot in Giacomo Puccini’s eponymous opera. There was not a single empty seat in the concert hall Zorlu PSM Studio, designed for 2500 viewers. Turkish viewers gave a standing ovation to the Kazakh artist.”

James Lee and Lilla Lee

The Korean tenor, James Lee was also highly appreciated by the Zorlu audience and the clamourous success of Turandot was celebrated until late that night by all artists of the Ankara State Opera and Ballet and their guests.


To be noted the wonderful lights of Fuat Gök and the exceptional participation of the Ankara National Ballet.




thumbnail (1)

thumbnail (2)

Turandot Curtain Call 2nd July 2019

16th March 2019: TURANDOT’s successful return at Ankara State Opera and Ballet

On 16th March 2019, Ankara State Opera and Ballet presented “Turandot”, the absolute masterpiece of Giacomo Puccini in a new production, with Maestro Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini as Stage Director and Maestro Antonio Pirolli as Conductor.

Turandot Locandina


The two Maestros, long-term friends, remembered with emotion their first “Turandot” together some 19 years ago in the same Opera Theatre, with Soprano Nilgun Akkerman.


Under the impulsion of the new Director General of Turkish State Opera and Ballet, brilliant Tenor Murat Karahan who called back both Conductor and Stage Director to set up again a fairy tale style production, the actual resurrection of opera the way we like it, a fantastic evening opened up to the notes of Puccini’s last work…

Turandot Blog 1

The somptuous costumes of Savaş Camgöz, the magnificent sets of Özgür Usta and the magic lights of Fuat Gök have definitely given the performance the utmost touch of glamour. The public was enthusiastic and the applause at the end lasted more than fifteen minutes.

Turandot Blog 2

Mehlika Karadeniz Bilgin, who incarnated a very special Turandot, with her cristalline voice, declared about the production : “The work exposes how Turandot, the princess who doesn’t believe in love and hates men, gets to know love. It is the inner travel of a woman finding herself and a fight between her brain and heart. In fact, Turandot is the fight between the bad and the good,”


Turandot Blog 4

Explaining that the mystic and the mysterious side of the Far East are reflected on the opera, Maestro Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini said, “It portrays the inner conflicts of Princess Turandot and her fight with love.” Moreover, his classical and royal style given to the elegant stage direction confered to the opera the real sense of what opera should be on such an important stage as the Ankara State Opera and Ballet.

Turandot Blog 5

On another hand, the sincere friendship between Maestro Pirolli and Maestro Grisostomi Travaglini could be felt as their arts coincided in putting together the virtuosity of music tightly-knit with the respect of Puccini’s will to render solemnity and human research for truth and love. The climax was during the famous moment of Liù’s death, when the emotions reach the vibrations of everyone’s heart.


This exceptional production was also possible thanks to the participation of incredibly talented soloists such as  Mehlika Karadeniz Bilgin, Perihan Nayır Artan, Murat Karahan, Aykut Çınar, Efe Kışlalı, Cem Akyüz, Özgür Savaş Gençtürk, Şafak Güç, Esin Talınlı, Tuğba Mankal Dekak, Seda Aracı Ayazlı, Tuncer Tercan, Çetin Kıranbay, Emre Uluocak, Kamil Kaplan, Arda Doğan, İbrahim Halil Turgut, Barış Yanç and Emre Akkuş… and all the artists of the Ankara State Opera Koro, under the direction of Maestro Giampaolo Vessella.


A special mention for Çetin Kıranbay, Barış Yanç and Arda Doğan, unforgettable Ping, Pang and Pong whose stage plays fabulously funny and “grotesque” as originally described by Puccini was one of the greatest moments of the performance.

ppp 1
Çetin Kıranbay, Barış Yanç and Arda Doğan, unforgettable Ping, Pang and Pong

I must also recognise that one of the magic elements of this Turandot was the use of the Ankara State Ballet. Both men and women dancers were absolutely smashing and gave a dynamic to special moments, like the Pu Ting Pao appearances, which was unique.

Not to forget anyone, here are the names of this impressive cast for my favourite version of “TURANDOT” ever …





To be noted the presence in the audience, Enrico Stinchelli, a famous Italian radio conductor, special guest of Ankara State Opera and Ballet, who actually enjoyed the performance.


TURANDOT 160319 Curtain Call VGT

Together with Maestro Antonio Pirolli & Maestro Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini
Maestro Vincenzo Grisostomi Travaglini, between Umut Yasar, Director Assistant and Boran Savran, Staging Assistant…. and me !