Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Composer Can Atilla and actor Semih Sergen aim to bring Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi's teachings of universal tolerance to the world stage through an oratorio marking the 800th anniversary of the Sufi saint and poet's birth in Balkh.
Based on Mevlana's life and teachings, "Mevlana Oratorio" was composed by Atilla, with a libretto by Sergen, and will be performed by the İstanbul Opera and Ballet Orchestra and Choir.
The world premiere of the oratorio will be held at Hagia Irene in İstanbul on April 7, with the orchestra conducted by Serdar Yalçın and the choir directed by Gökçen Koray.
"We decided to compose a polyphonic piece about Mevlana as part of a common project with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism," Atilla told the Anatolia news agency.
A 200-member orchestra and choir will participate in the performance, in an arrangement borrowed from Wagner, according to Atilla. "The number of wind instruments and stringed instruments are similar, leading to the magnificent and harmonic orchestra sound we were after."
The project was inspired by Sergen's book "Gönüller Işığı Mevlana" (Mev-lana Illuminating Hearts) in 2006. "The libretto was written by Sergen, who has researched and written about Mevlana for 54 years. This cooperation is a great pleasure for me," he added.
The piece consists of 11 sections; 10 tell about Mevlana's life from childhood to death and the last one includes excerpts from "Divan-ı Kebir" and "Mesnevi." Sergen will read poems for the dramatic piece, which also contains a short dervish performance. The İstanbul State Opera and Ballet Orchestra and Choir will also stage the production on April 10 and May 8, and the oratorio will be performed during the Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival in July.
The team hoped "Mevlana Oratorio" would also be performed at the Vatican and in New York, added Atilla. "This will be a significant contribution to the introduction of Turkey to the world as well as conveying the teachings of Mevlana, a global treasure, to the whole world."
Atilla said he has always been interested in Mevlana's teachings and that he had the opportunity to gain more insight into the teachings of the Sufi saint since the preparation phase for the oratorio. "I had delightful moments while I worked on it. I felt I passed beyond a gate that I never knew before. Everyone should read Mevlana's pieces. His poems are guidance and magnificently written. Anyone without acquaintance with his oeuvre misses out on a great deal."
Turkish musicians should write pieces for the repertoires of the world's top orchestras, Atilla urged. "Contributions can be made to Western music while also preserving the core values," he said.
"I believe the 'Mevlana Oratorio' will reach a huge audience, provided it is taken to international platforms. This is not a project for Turkey alone but for the whole world. The piece will find its own way after the first performance," he said.