“When you sing, you have to feel what you are saying.”
“I actually cried on stage. Once in a while a note would issue forth that was not orthodox. That’s why the American critics don’t like me. But I don’t care. They want a music with water and soap.”
“I gave more bad performances than good ones.”
Leyla Gencer usually didn’t take opera critics seriously but here you can find some of the reviews about her:
Giorgio Corapi: Her biography is full of unresolved contradictions and many blanks purposely left unfilled, which in its vagueness seems destined to become a myth.
Giornale d’Italia (Palermo La Traviata): Young Turkish soprano Leyla Gencer has an outstanding voice and a very powerful breathing technique. She interpreted La Traviata perfectly in accordance with Italian tradition.
Sicilia del Popolo (Palermo La Traviata): Leyla Gencer is not only Turkey’s but also the Europe’s best soprano.
Il Piccolo (Napoli Recital): Accompanied by pianist Vincenzo Scalera, Gencer who is always in search of the most original and rich content was extremely brilliant and succesful in her concert.
San Francisco News (San Francisco Don Carlos): She represented Queen Elizabeth in all her splendor.
Call Bulletin Magazine (San Francisco Don Carlos): A rare beauty on the stage, a rich voice and perfect pianissimos.
San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco Don Carlos): She interpreted the Spanish queen perfectly through her perfect vocal technique and great musical approach.
Oakland Tribune (San Francisco La Traviata): To describe Gencer we can use the adjective “one of the most convincing and suitable Violettas that have sang on our stage”. La Traviata is absolutely Gencer’s opera from the beginning until the end.
Il Mattino (Naples Madama Butterfly): To sing the role Cio-Cio-San, San Carlo management made the best choice in inviting Leyla Gencer, who was the revelation of last season’s “Cavalleria Rusticana”. Thanks to her her artistic sensibility and her noble interpretation, Gencer has been a remarkable Butterfly. With her unique style the young yet famous soprano conquered the audience. After a big round of applause, Leyla Gencer sang again the famous aria.
Sunday Telegraph (Glyndebourne Anna Bolena): Glyndebourne has succeeded in riviving this opera and undoubtedly Leyla Gencer deserves the most credit among all the artists.
Observer (GlyndebourneAnna Bolena): After a rather shy entrance, Leyla Gencer interpreted a long memorable character with her mastery in her voice and acting.
Opéra Magazine (Venice Macbeth): Leyla Gencer who is Lady Macbeth, the best Lady Macbeth Verdi could have wished for.
Opéra Magazine (Arena di Verona Un ballo in maschera): Gencer’s interpretation of Amelia's role was first-class.
Along with reviews such as “brilliant, perfect, extraordinary” Gencer also received negative reviews such as “a complete disaster, wrong casting, not her role” regarding her interpretations. Yet she didn’t take them seriously. Gencer explains: "When you sing, you have to feel what you are saying.... I actually cried on stage. Once in a while a note would issue forth that was not orthodox. That's why the American critics don't like me. But I don't care. They want a music with water and soap."
An anecdote from NY Times: ............ If a music critic’s passions run high, the passions of his readers can run higher still, as Mr. Porter learned — vicariously — after an incident in Milan. The scene was La Scala, and the time was not long after he had written a review criticizing the Turkish soprano Leyla Gencer, whom opera fans around the world revered with a proprietary zeal.
In La Scala’s lobby that night was a man who had the spectacular misfortune to resemble Mr. Porter. As the real Mr. Porter recounted in the Opera News interview, a crowd of operagoers seized the man, threw him to the floor and, shouting, “How could you say what you said about our Leyla Gencer!,” commenced kicking him.
“I’m not Andrew Porter!” the man cried in self-defense. “I’m not Andrew Porter!”