The Ears of Midas

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The Ears of Midas is a satirical opera in Turkish which is based on Güngör Dilmen’s 1959 play and composed by Ferit Tüzün, between the years 1966-1969. It was staged for the first time in 1969. After all these years it met with the audience one more time in Kadıköy Süreyya Opera House. Istanbul State Opera and Ballet revived this amazing opera on the stage with the direction of Yücel Erten and under the conductorship of Serdar Yalçın.

pan

When the curtains are opened you see an amazing stage decor. The stage designer Zeki Sarayoğlu created magnificent scenes for Midas’s kingdom in Phrygia. Of course we have to mention the lightning designer Metin Koçtürk for the stage decor too, because the stage design and the lightning design go hand in hand. The lightning in the stage business is not only lightning the dancers, singers or actors; if you use the lights wise enough, you can polish up the stage decor, just as in The Ears of Midas. The stable decor of the whole opera was just the stairs and the walls of the Midas’ palace, a glittering half circle and a moving white curtain. Together with the different lighting combinations, the same decor changes from the private room of the Midas to the main square of the Phrygia; from a reed-bed to the well that reveals the secret of Midas. Also the yellow light which is shining with the ventilated gleaming circle when Apollo is on the stage, and the blue light when Moon Goddess (Artemis) on the stage creates a godly atmosphere at the venue. Zeki Sarayoğlu uses a wheeled platform for the entrances and exits of deities, and also some supportive decors; like a throne, a rectangle shape for the well, a mirror and so on. Lastly, even though it is not directly relevant with the decor, the utilisation of sound was noteworthy. The sound system echoed the words “Midas’ ears are donkey ears!” while barber yells into the well to the venue and it was amazing for immersed into the play.

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The costume department also deserves recognition with the designer Çımen Somuncuoğlu. The costumes in The Ears of Midas were nearly impeccable. I just wish that Apollo’s golden platform heeled sneakers and Moon Goddess’s (Artemis) costume as a whole would be different; she looks more like Isis – the Egyptian goddess of marriage and love – with her crescent shaped headdress. I especially like the costume of Pan, the god of wilderness, and his fellow satyrs. Also Midas’s donkey ears and satyrs horns are visually very successful and they do not disturb the eyesight with looking too fake.

As for the performances, I especially like very much Murat Güney’s (Midas), Süha Yıldız’s (Barber) and Yoel Vahram Keşap’s (Pan) performances. The Barber has just one arietta, so his most striking quality is his acting; director Yücel Ertan intentionally wanted an actor for this role and Süha Yıldız does a great job on the stage. Murat Güney and Vahram Keşap are fabulous, both in singing and acting. I think, the only obtrusive performance is given by Sirel Yakupoğlu (Moon Goddess), with her brassy voice and fulsome acting. Orchestra’s performance with the leading of their conductor Serdar Yalçın is marvellous. You can just close your eyes and listen to Ferit Tüzün’s smooth composition like you are listening to the soundtrack albums of movies – which i did nearly for five minutes of the performance.

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The Ears of Midas also contains dance scenes with the lovely dancers of Istanbul State Opera and Ballet. The satyr dance at the beginning and at the end of the opera, the dance of two lovers and also magnificent reed dance support the story of the opera and serve as a visual show for the audience. I want to talk about the reed dance especially, because the director chooses to tell that part of the story only with a dance scene and it works really well. There is no speech in that part of the opera, there is only music and chorus at the background, and the dancers harmoniously reveal the scene with the ripped reeds for  us in a very artistic way. So I send my special thanks to the choreographer Selçuk Borak from here once more.

The Ears of Midas has just entered among my favourite Turkish opera productions. It is the ideal opera for the beginners and refreshing one for the opera lovers after a tiring school/work day. With its gorgeous melodies, brilliant soloists, perfect stage decor and comedic elements, I highly recommend The Ear of Midas to anyone who thinks opera is just a bore.

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