Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My First Turkish Opera

My friend Eda and me at the opera. 

My first Turkish opera commenced with clouds projected on a screen and a live orchestra playing. It was at the Süreyya Opera in Kadıköy, an attractive building that has intrigued me every time I've walked past it. Inside, decked with murals and chandeliers, it is even lovelier.

The footage of clouds and live classical music made me feel like I was at a concert in a hot air balloon. The seams in the screen or creases where the screen had been folded were visible, giving the cloud footage a scratchy vintage appeal that made me nostalgic for the old theater where I used to watch the original “Little Rascals” growing up. I remember pointing to a side balcony and gravely informing my childhood friend that right up there was where Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated. I really thought I was telling the truth. I knew Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in a theater and we were sitting in a theater, so by golly, that must have been the place.

This is a warning to let you know you should fact check everything I say, especially if I'm giving a synopsis of a Turkish opera.

The strange costumes and fog rising up from the stage reminded me of the film, “5,000 Fingers of Dr. T,” another movie from my childhood. In fact, the whole experience of seeing “Başka Dünya,” Turkish for "Another World," and feeling totally confused, made me feel like a child again, like I was trying to deduce what a book was about just by looking at the pictures.

The screen was raised to show a man in what looked like a prison cell fashioned from old-fashioned Japanese screens. He was wearing some sort of Rasputin monk garb. A resounding "Kızım!" (My daughter -- one of the few words I understood) followed a woman's entrance. A Monopoly-inspired caricature of a man with a three-piece, pinstriped suit, handlebar mustache, and a diamond studded eye ornament on his eye patch was obviously the bad guy. The daughter rode an elevator to another world, where she fell in love with Zeus. Zeus became mortal for her, donning sunglasses and ditching his long blue beard and velvet robes. A jealous Hera, wearing peacock and ostrich feathers, cursed her out. The capitalist rode the elevator and stomped on Pan, then stabbed Zeus, and the daughter cried. Zeus came back as a god and resumed life as usual with Hera. Then the daughter went back to being a young girl when her father was arrested.

Maaaaaaaaybe that's what happened. Obviously, you shouldn’t take my word for it.  

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