Don Juan Archiv - Wien, Forschungsverlag
Reiseroute der kaiserlichen Gesandschaften von Wien nach Konstantinopel
Reiseroute der kaiserlichen Gesandschaften von Wien nach Konstantinopel aus Karl Teplys "Kaiserliche Gesandschaften ans Goldene Horn". Stuttgart-Hamburg: Deutscher Bücherbund, (o.J.)
Die vom Theatrum Europaeum entnommene Ansicht Konstantinopels
Die vom Theatrum Europaeum entnommene Ansicht Konstantinopels (Istanbuls) aus Karl Teplys "Kaiserliche Gesandschaften ans Goldene Horn". Stuttgart-Hamburg: Deutscher Bücherbund, (o.J.)
Grundris der St
Grundris der Städte Constantinopel Galata und Scudar: The map is from Carsten Niebuhr's "Reisebeschreibung nach Arabien und den umliegenden Ländern". Nachdr. d. Ausg. Kopenhagen 1774/78 u. Hamburg 1837, Graz: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, 1968, Vol. 1

Theatre and Diplomacy


 Ambassadors are the messengers of superior powers, but also are singers;

for singers are those of pure artistry and musical mastery.

Both are expected to execute and fulfill the mission "elegantly";

this is why it is truly extraordinary

to bring together the high arts of opera and diplomacy. ( ss )


European Ambassadors as Cultural Avantgarde in Constantinople / Kostantiniyye

This is a project on the cultural influences of the diplomatic relations between the Ottoman Empire and the European Powers, and it focuses on the eighteenth century, although covering in general sixteenth, seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. It endeavours to illustrate the extent to which and the dimensions of the cultural influence of the European diplomatic missions on the cultural life of the Ottoman Istanbul, through evidence tracing the earliest opera practice by European troupes in the Capital.

The major motivation for this research is a fascinating discovery in the Ottoman history: it was the Swedish embassy that hosted and staged the first opera performance known in Istanbul, the year was 1786. This information drove the inspiration for us to undertake research on opera and diplomacy in Ottoman history. As the research continued, further inspiring findings were encountered: this time it was the Venetian community that staged the first ballet performance in Istanbul, what is interesting here is, the year was 1524; decades before the academically accepted origins of ballet in 1581 in France. With these significant pieces of information, we have come to assume that the other European diplomatic missions in Istanbul may also have given opera performances or have invited from Europe opera troupes to perform in the embassies. The above-mentioned information and this assumption have been the driving forces of this research. Therefore the aim is to remap the theatrical side of the cultural relations between Ottoman Empire and the European powers in the eighteenth century through the bilateral diplomacy.

The project is composed of four fundamental constituents and commences with a portrayal of Sultan Selim III with a focus on his reforms in diplomacy. The second of these constituents concerns itself with the Ottoman ambassadors and envoys in the eighteenth century Europe together with the sefâretnames (ambassadorial reports) of the Ottoman envoys and the cultural and artistic aspects to it. The following constituent engages itself with the European side of the story and looks at the European envoys and ambassadors in the eighteenth century Ottoman Capital; with a focus on their influences on the cultural and arts scene of Istanbul of the time. In the final section, the project looks at the relationship between opera and Ottomans from the early to mid-nineteenth century.

I. European Basic Data

  1. Rulers

     a. Osmanli or Ottoman, the Imperial House of Osman

     b. The Three Reformer Sultans

     c. Ottoman and European Rulers Index

  2. Ambassadors

     a. On Collecting Data

     b. A Risky Job - Laying Out History

     c. The Table of Ottoman-European Diplomats

  3. Ambassadors' Operas

     a. Data on States of the Performances

     b. Data on Represented States

     c. The Table of Diplomats' Operas

II. In the Sultan's Capital

  1. Three Ambassadors' Performances in Constantinople


     a. 1524 The Earliest Ballet 
        1st Interlude / The First Turkish Themes On European Stages
     b. 1665 A Performance by the Capuchins-Palais de France
        2nd Interlude / Continuing Turqueries

     c. 1786 The First Opera Performance- Palais de Suède

        3rd Interlude/Ottoman-Habsburg Junctions Through the End of a Century

  2. Sultan Selim III-Diplomatic Reforms and Opera at the Ottoman Court

     a. Artist in Own Right
     b. Diplomatic Reforms

     c. Opera at the Court

  3. Opera, Ottomans and Diplomats: Highlights

     a. Mahmud II (r.1808-1839)

     b. Abdülmecid (r.1839-1861)
     c. Abdülhamid II (r.1876-1909)

III. Further Prospectives

  1. Cultural Relations between the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg States

  2. Turkish Opera and Opera in Turkey

  3. Female Grandeur and Operatic Performance 


 Project-coordinator and Website texts: Suna Suner



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Letztes Update: 05.12.2011