26 may 2019

Central Asia news

Turkmenistan: First Opera Played After Seven Years of Official Ban

09.07.2008 08:52 msk


Ashgabat residents have attended the first opera performed in Turkmenistan since 2001, when an eccentric official ban on opera was ordered by the former president, Saparmurat Niyazov, Kommersant reports.

At that time, Niyazov banned opera and circus, which he considered as western and imperial arts and alien to the Turkmen mentality and way of life.

“I do not understand opera, what is it for then?” Niyazov used to ask.

However, his successor, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, who took the office in 2006 after Niyazov's unexpected death, has encouraged cultural exchanges.

He lifted the ban on opera and circus in January and personally attended the first staged performance in Turkmenistan.

At the heart of the new opera is a Turkmen epic poem, “Shasnem and Garib”, written in 1944 during the Stalin era by Dangatar Ovezov, founder of the Turkmen composer school. This love and heroic composition is derived from a larger Oghus epic, “The Book Korkut, My Forefather.”

Observers note, however, that this choice is not accidental, but fits into the nationalistic framework the Turmen leadership seeks to maintain.