09 October 2015


Gencer’s voyage with opera started in 1943 as she began participating concerts and radio programs. Her first orchestral concert was in Istanbul on May 9, 1947.

It was the premiere of Cemal Reşit Rey’s stage cantata Özsoy where she sang the brief soprano part under the baton of the composer himself. After leaving the Istanbul State Conservatory and going to Ankara, Gencer made her opera debut at Ankara State Opera in 1950 in Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana.

Gencer had her first experiences abroad by giving recitals on radios. She gave recitals in Holland (in 1948), on BBC Radio (in December 1951), on Radio-Diffusion Française (1951). Her first radio recital in Italy was in July 1953 at Rai-Roma. She was accompanied by pianist Giorgio Favoretto. In the same year she gave her first orchestral concert with Orchestra del Rai di Torino under the baton of Arturo Basile. She sang duets and arias from the operas Un ballo in maschera, Faust and La forza del destino with Agostino Lazzarini, one of the most significant tenors of that period.

After her succesful performances as Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana at ten thousand-seat Arena Flegrea of Naples on the 16th and 19th of July 1953; Gencer caught the attention of the famous conductor Tullio Serafin. She was invited to perform Madama Butterfly and Eugene Onegin the following year at Teatro San Carlo - Naples in February and May of 1954. On February 11, 1954, Gencer performed in the 50th year anniversary production of Madam Butterfly under the baton of Gabriele Santini and subsequently on March 17 1954, she sang Tatiana in Eugene Onegin under the baton of Tullio Serafin. The recordings of these two operas are available on CDs.

Until the year 1957 when she made her debut at Teatro alla Scala in Milan; Gencer sang Madam Butterfly (Torino, Napoli, Belgrad), Tosca (Munich, Lozan), La Traviata (Warsaw, Lodz, Poznan, Ankara, Reggio Emilia, Trieste, Palermo), Kerem ile Aslı (Ankara), Die Freischütz (Trieste) and The Consul (Ankara). In the same period she caught the public’s attention as Charlotte in the opera Werther which was broadcast in Rai television on April 23 1955. The recording is available on DVD.

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