The Embassy of Italy in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, and the Central Asian country’s Ministry of Culture co-presented a production of Leoncavallo’s 19th-century opera Pagliacci November 19. The performance marked the first time an opera played in Turkmenistan since founding president Sapurmurat Niyazov banned the art form in 2001 with the perceived goal of preserving control over Turkmen morality.
The production, which played the Magtymguly Theatre in the capital city of Ashgabat, was directed by Daniele de Plana as part of an “international culture festival,” with the aim to reintroduce global talents and arts to the country. The isolated nation remains under the dictatorship of Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who took power in 2006 following the death of Niyazov.
Italian tenor Francesco Anile led the company as Canio; joining him was a cast of Turkmen singers: Bibi Amanova as Nedda, Ismail Jumayev as Tonio, Nury Nuryev as Peppe, and Aman Amanov as Silvio; Amanov first sang the role in 2001—the last time opera took the Ashgabat stage. Rasul Klychev took the podium to conduct the singers, back by the State Symphonic Orchestra and the State Choir of Turkmenistan.