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index / The story of the Opera in Turkey
Opera was the favorite form of theatre in 19th century Istanbul. A troupe from Italy performed for an entire season at one theatre, while French operas were staged at another. Istanbul was one of a handful of opera capitals in Europe. Indeed, Verdi’s ‘Il Trovatore’ was performed in Istanbul before it was staged in Paris, and sometimes the same opera was performed at several theatres on a given evening. On the evening of 8 July 1899, for example, three productions of ‘Aida’ were running simultaneously. I should point out however that all these productions were performed by artists from abroad, and most of the city’s opera-goers as well were from its Levantine and minority communities.

Opera productions and concerts were also held at the palace theatres. Sultan Abdulhamid II was particularly fond of this art form and took great pleasure in attending operas at the theatre in Yildiz Palace, to which he appointed an Italian by the name of Arturo Stravolo director.
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