Murat Karahan: If I contribute to the development of the art of opera and ballet in my country, that will be my biggest satisfaction.

Completing his primary, secondary and high school educations at TED Ankara College, Murat Karahan entered Bilkent University, Faculty of Music and Performing Arts in 1996. He completed his undergraduate program in 2003, master’s program in 2006 and doctorate program in 2010. He started working at Ankara State Opera and Ballet as a soloist in 2003. Going to Rome in 2009, he had been the private student of the famous soprano Renata Scotto and the head of the Santa Cecilia Academy, Professor Bruno Cagli for two years. Karahan, who was a “Regular Guest Artist” at the Latvian National Opera, to which he attended upon a special invitation received in 2012, performed more than fifty leading roles in pieces such as Lucia di Lammermoor, La Traviata, La Bohème, Manon Lescaut and Il Trovatore. In 2014, the artist was chosen as “the Most Successful Male Opera Artist of the Year” at Donizetti Classical Music Awards by Andante Music Magazine. Again in 2014, he performed Il Trovatore and Manon Lescaut this time in France. In 2015, the artist, who performed at Berlin Deutsche Oper for the first time with La Traviata, took the leading roles in La Bohème, La Traviata, and Carmen at the famous Bolshoi Theatre, as well. In 2017, Murat Karahan performed the leading roles of Il Trovatore, Manon Lescaut, Tosca, Turandot, Carmen, Madama Butterfly and Nabucco at important theatres such as Wiener Staatsoper, Arena di Verona, Bolshoi Theatre, Munich Bayerische Staatsoper, Oper Frankfurt, Napoli Teatro di San Carlo, Festival de Radio France et Montpellier, Los Angeles Opera and Salerno Opera. In the same year, he went on a tour with Limak Philharmonic Orchestra, of which he is a founder, throughout the Republic of Turkey for “Zeki Muren Songs” project and reached an audience of more than 20.000 people in 12 cities and an album was released upon the audience request. Following the year of 2018, the artist continuing his performances at the world stages took place in such pieces as Manon Lescaut, Il Trovatore, La Traviata, Macbeth, Carmen, Cavalleria Rusticana and Turandot in Wiener Staatsoper, Berlin Deutsche Oper, Bolshoi Theatre, Finnish National Opera, Aspendos Ancient Theatre, Latvian National Opera and Teatro Massimo di Palermo. In July of the same year, the audience and critics described his performances in Turandot, staged under the direction of Franco Zeffirelli in Arena di Verona, as “an extraordinary success”. Karahan, who continued giving concerts besides the performances, took stage in such events as “the 20th Anniversary Gala” in Astana, “Opera and Ballet Festival Gala Concert” in the ancient theatres of Ephesus and Aspendos, “Three Tenors Concert” in Tirana, “100th Anniversary Gala” in Latvian National Opera, “the Closing Concert of Turkish Tourism Year” in Beijing, “Turkish Musical Journey” concerts in Tokio and St. Petersburg. At the same time, the artist, who started to work as the Administrative and Artistic Director General of Turkish State Opera and Ballet in January 2018 and is still in this position, has also made important movements on the composing and staging of new pieces in his country. Murat Karahan, who was also the Project Creator and Artistic Director of Troy epic opera, Rebirth opera and Gobeklitepe epic opera, which were produced during this period, also performed with the leading role in Troy at many stages including the Bolshoi Theatre. 

Dear Murat, thank you for accepting our invitation! I’m glad that I have the chance to chat with you. It was a great pleasure to be able to listen to you performing Cavalleria rusticana in Arena di Verona! Congratulations! It must have been such a joy to return on stage after such difficult times that artists and the art itself has been passing through in the last year and a half. How do you feel about the 2021 Arena di Verona Festival experience, which is a bit different from what we were used to?

Thank you very much for your beautiful words. It was also amazing for me to take part in the opening night of Arena Di Verona with these wonderful artists and company. Because of the Pandemic, we have been experiencing really hard times and it especially and deeply affected the performing arts, which are performed interactively with the audience. This is my 5th season in Arena and you know we are used to singing over 10000 audiences every night. But in this season, we are able to use the half of the capacity of the Arena. Thankfully, at least we are again with our beloved audience. By the way, I should also congratulate the Direction of Foundation of Arena Di Verona for 2021 organisation, which was not so easy to organise after those hard days.

The roles you performed in this theater, the biggest open air theater in the world, are very important ones for your career, aren’t they? Vocally, what’s the repertoire that suits you best at this point of your career and what are the roles that you’re planing to add to your repertoire in the near future?

In those 5 seasons, I had the chance to sing the leading roles of 6 different magnificent operas, which are Il Trovatore, Turandot, Aida, Tosca, Carmen and Cavalleria Rusticana thanks to the amazing productions of Arena Di Verona with amazing world star singers, conductors and musicians. Actually, when I am singing Lyric Spinto roles, I feel more comfortable. I love opera, but I think I love Verismo period more than others, especially when I am singing the music of Puccini… I sang almost all the roles I wanted to sing until today. For my next years, I would love to add some operas like Andrea Chenier and Otello to my repertory.

Read the entire interview here, in the 5th/2021 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.


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