'La Diva Turca' Made World Opera History: Who is Leyla Gencer, Where is she from?

La Diva Turca, Who Made World Opera History Who is Leyla Gencer From Where?
Who is 'La Diva Turca' Leyla Gencer, Who Made World Opera History, From Where?

Ayşe Leyla Gencer (born 10 October 1928; Polonezköy, died 10 May 2008 Milan), Turkish opera singer. She is considered one of the most important sopranos of the 20th century.

Famous in Western countries as “La Diva Turca”, “La Gencer”, “La Regina”; Listening to his art in Milan, Rome, Naples, Venice, Vienna, Paris, San Francisco, Cologne, Buenos Aires, London, Rio de Janeiro, Bilbao, Chicago; Lucia, Norma, Lady Macbeth, Queen Elizabeth, Filoria Tosca, Lucrezia, Madame Butterfly, Alceste, Aida, Violetta, Leonora "Leyla la la Leyla Gencer, the soprano of her Turca, is one of the artists who aroused admiration both on the elite opera stages and in her recitals. The opera repertoire included 23 works by 72 composers. Gencer is a Turkish State Artist.

Leyla Gencer was born in 1928 in Polonezköy. Hasanzade İbrahim Bey, whose father is the son of a deep-rooted Muslim family from Safranbolu, is Alexandra Angela Minakovska, whose mother is the daughter of a Polish Catholic family. His family later took the surname Çeyrekgil. After her mother married İbrahim Bey, she converted to Islam and took the name Atiye. Gencer said in an interview in the following years, "I come from a Muslim and oriental background".

His father, İbrahim Bey, and his elder brother Hüseyin Çeyrekgil, ran farming, fishing, transportation and the operation of Çubuklu water; he also undertook the management of Lale Cinema and had inns in Karaköy. Leyla lost her father at a young age. She married Ibrahim Gencer, a wealthy banker, in 1946 and took the surname Gencer.


Leyla Gencer graduated from Istanbul Italian High School and studied singing at the Istanbul State Conservatory for a while. At the conservatory, she became a student of Reine Gelenbevi, one of the leading teachers of France, famous orchestra conductor Muhittin Sadak and composer Cemal Reşit Rey. After meeting the famous Italian soprano Giannina Arangi-Lombardi, who came to Turkey to teach at the Ankara State Conservatory, she left her conservatory education in Istanbul and continued her studies in Ankara as his private student. She entered the choir of the Ankara State Theater (opera was also affiliated with the theatre). When her teacher, Arangi Lombardi, died a year later in Italy, where she went to visit her daughter, she fell ill and continued her studies with the Italian baritone Apollo Granforte.

Opera career

While Leyla Gencer was working as a chorister at the State Theaters Ankara Opera, she was given the role of Santuazza in the Cavalleria rusticana opera, which started to be staged the year she came to Ankara (in 1950). Gencer's opera career started with this role.

Leyla Gencer was one of the artists who took part in the recitals given to state guests between 1950-1958, when she worked at the Ankara State Opera. Presidents of the USA, Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, the founder of Yugoslavia, Marshal Tito, Iranian Shah Reza Pahlavi and his wife Princess Süreyya, and King Hussein of Jordan are among the guests of the state where he gave recitals.

He went to Rome for the first time in 1953 to give a radio concert within the framework of the Cultural Agreement signed between Turkey and Italy. Upon the success of this concert, she had the opportunity to play the leading role in the opera Cavalleria rusticana, which was staged at the Naples Summer Festival. The next season, he received an offer to play the leading roles in the operas of Eugenio Onegin and Madame Butterfly at the famous San Carlo Opera in Naples. Thus began Leyla Gencer's adventure in the international arena, and Gencer, who won the love of the Neapolitans with her success in Madam Butterfly opera, began to be known as the Neapolitan Turk. This success continued with her role as Violetta in La Traviata, which was staged at the San Carlo Opera the following season. The artist sang “La Traviata” in Palermo, Trieste, Ankara, Turin, Warsaw, Poznan, Lodzi Kraków, in Vienna State Opera under the direction of Herbert von Karajan, in San Francisco and Philadelphia, Moscow and Leningrad. She sang the leading role in the San Francisco opera in 1956, replacing the famous soprano Renata Tebaldi, who declared that she would not be able to act in the San Francesca da Rimini opera at the last moment. After performing the work in San Francisco and Los Angeles, she signed a contract with the San Francisco opera she.

Leyla Gencer played the leading role in the opera La Traviata, which was staged at the San Francisco Opera in the 1957 season, and the world-famous soprano Maria Callas in the Lucia di Lammermoor opera. After Callas did not come, Gencer took on the role of Lucia and gained great success. Since then, she has performed countless opera performances, recitals and concerts in the USA.

On the night of January 26, 1957, Leyla Gencer achieved her goal of performing at Milan's famous La Scala Theater for the first time. She played the leading role (Lidoine-priestess) in the world's first performance of French composer Francis Poulenc's Dialogue of the Carmelites. After his debut in Scala, Gencer Verdi at the magnificent funeral held at Milan's Duomo di Milano Cathedral on February 18, 1957 for Arturo Toscanini, who was considered the greatest conductor of all time and died shortly in the USA. He successfully sang the soprano part while performing the Requiem of the . Behind this success, she played the leading role in Verdi's The Power of Destiny on the tour organized by La Scala Opera for the opening of the Cologne Opera. In 1958, she played the role of abbess in Pizzetti's work Murder in the Cathedral, which had its world premiere, and then the role of Margherita in Boito's little-known opera Mephistophele.

Gencer acted as Ankara State Opera Artist in operas abroad until his contract was terminated in 1958. He settled in Milan shortly after he was dismissed in 1958. In 1958, Donizetti's opera “Anna Bolena” was broadcast on Italian Radio with Leyla Gencer's interpretation (This broadcast was released on vinyl in 1980). Upon the success of this interpretation, the famous orchestra conductor Vittorio Gui offered the leading role in 3 different works, in 3 different cities (Palermo, Florence Roman Operas). Thus, Gencer played the leading role in Verdi's play “The Battle of Legnano”, which has never been staged since 1959, at the opening of the 1849 Florence Festival. Verdi's "Macbeth" Opera performed it in Palermo and Mozart's "Don Giovanni" Opera in Rome.

Gencer reached the peak of his profession in the 1960s. He continued to sing unknown operas. In 1963, she played the lead role of Elena in Verdi's forgotten opera “Jerusalem”. This was followed by Donizetti's never-before-known opera, the role of Queen Elizabeth in Robert Devereux, and Bellini's opera Beatrice di Tanda, which has not been staged for 130 years.

The artist, who said goodbye to the stage in 1985, worked as As. Li. Co. was the general art director of she. On December 1983, 1988, the Donizetti prize was awarded. Between 4 and 1987, he was the director of the young artists school of the La Scala choir, and until his death he was the artistic director of the academy for opera singers at the La Scala Theatre. Gencer also continued to give lectures on opera interpretation. Leyla Gencer, who is a member of the selection committee in international competitions and attends festivals, seminars and conferences, is the founder of the “International Voice Competition” in Istanbul that bears her name. The competition has been held since 1997.

Leyla Gencer was honored with the title of "State Artist" in 1988.

In 2004, a 1000 sterling silver commemorative coin with a value of 15.000.000 TL was issued by the General Directorate of Mint and Stamp Printing House in the private collection of the Turks of the Year 0.999.


He died on May 10, 2008, at his home in Milan, at the age of 79, due to heart and respiratory failure. Leyla Gencer's funeral was taken to the crematorium in line with her will, after a crowded ceremony held at the Santa Babila Church of La Scala Opera in Milan on 12 May. Leyla Gencer's ashes were later brought to Istanbul. According to his will, the ashes were poured into the Bosphorus waters off Dolmabahçe after a ceremony held between Dolmabahçe Palace and Dolmabahçe Mosque on 16 May. At the ceremony, "Lacrimosa" from Mozart's Requiem and the 5th, 12th and 13th parts of Ahmed Adnan Saygun's "Yunus Emre Oratorio" were performed by the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet Orchestra and Chorus.

It is envisaged that a “Leyla Gencer Museum” will be established in the newly constructed center of the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, based on the artist's will.

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