“Hard, it must be very hard. The end was clear from the very

beginning. She was unique. No one like her will ever be born

again. She is a miracle. She is an idol. I watched her and

listened to her for years. I never missed any of her concerts,

bought all her CDs and records; I collected all the interviews,

everything written or published on and about her. I bought one by

one whatever she sold to the cobbler. My house has turned into a

Semra Can archive. I loved with with a never ending passion, I

adored her. That’s why I visit her every week. She is my past, my

present, who knows maybe my future too. Because I know her best,

they asked me to make a TV program about her, a program titled

“The End of the Digital Coloratura Soprano.” And I resigned from

my position on Channel 9, shouting ‘Go to hell!’. … Addio del

passato. That was my most popular aria, from Verdi’s ‘La

Traviata’. Oh, you haven’t listened to it? It means ‘Farewell to

the past’. If you want I can sing it for you. … Mrs. Can, first _

tell us why they gave you this name ‘Digital Coloratura Soprano’?

Please, tell us why. … Right, OK. Since childhood, I have had

this gift to imitate, to utter every sound I heard. It’s as if

there is a digital computer between my mouth and diaphragm, which

records every sound it hears. Then, I find myself _uttering the

same sound. You know those Japanese miraculous synthesizers, you

say something to the microphone, and the machine records your

voice to a disquette, then on the keyboard you can play any piece

of music with that sound recorded. Just like that. The voice or

sound can belong to a man or a woman, a child, an animal’s or it

may even be the sound of a piece of furniture. It makes no

difference. I can imitate the voice of everyone, the sound of

anything, as long as it has a sound, a voice. It is as if I am

the shadow of anything I hear. Ombra leggiera. Oh, that’s another

beautiful aria. From Giacomo Meyerbeer’s ‘Dinorah’. … Behold,

you can never witness such a case once again in your life. This

is the one and only case that we have had the chance to observe

in our crisis center. I pinch her flesh, she doesn’t react. When

she can imitate every sound that is ‘as if’, that is an artifact,

she has closed herself to reality. She has developed this talent

to be ‘as if’. It’s a sort of defence mechanism of course. Mrs.

Can is the most precious patient we have here at our clinic. Take

good care of her. She can appear in another identity anytime. …

Owing to this talent of yours dearest Semra, you have never been

alone. But you sometimes confuse the setting and time. Well, they

will of course be shocked and scared. Do you remember how you

scared the hell out of that child? And then, the child started to

cry, and you shouted at him, ‘Stop crying you fool, you think

this is fearful, eh? Life will present to you such frightening

experiences that you will miss my fearful voice! You’d better

wake up to reality and kill whatever you have of life inside you.

First, you must kill love. Don’t be late to see the truth and to

sing your own song. Come on, sing your song to me! Sing it!’ Yes,

that’s what you said to the child, and while his parents were

looking at you in awe, you had started to beat the poor

child. … Mrs. Can, what would you like to have become, if you

hadn’t been a soprano? … Oh, I would like to have become a

NAI(*) player. I would like to play the NAI quietly in my haven.

The opera and NAI. What have the two got to do with

each other? Oh please! The NAI sounds heavenly to me. They say its sound is

the closest to human voice, didn’t you know? … I hate you mom!

Was your life so precious, eh? … And, you should see those NAI

players exhaling into the NAI with their heads bent to one side,

that has influenced me so much since my childhood. That’s why I

took NAI lessons. I still play it. … Yes, we know that Mrs.

Can, and you play it well. I’m sure our viewers are dying to hear

you play just a tiny piece. But before that we have the

commercials! Are you still with us? … Please do not give me

these pills. … Why do you calm down only on the visit days Mrs.

Can? I just can’t understand. … When they came in for torture,

would you do the injection to the palestine suspender, eh? She is

screaming but you’re giving me the injection. When watching ‘Fire

Everywhere’ on TV, she puts her ward aflame, and you give me an

injection. Forgive me for saying so doc, but you look like dead

whores in this white uniform. You should put on some color. Then

your small eyes would look bigger. And a pair of blue lenses.

Look, like this! And you put on these artificial eye lashes,

that’s it. Now I have become very special, very different, right?

But you’re always giving me injections. My arms have turned into

a skimmer. Please let me, let me sing my song as I wish to. I

have an interview on TV tonight. Tomorrow morning, the first

thing you should to is to take my hair out to the sun, please do

so. Please stop these injections. Please let me sing my song. I

know you’re tired of my fans, this crowd upsets you but I am

nothing without them. Ugur Mumcu (**), five million TL. … It is

the title of a famous play staged by the Ankara Art Theatre …

What is ‘Infantry Reserved’? … Correct. Mrs. Semra Can, you

have won sixtyfive million Turkish liras so far. It’s your turn

again. Where do the hands that have murdered millions of people

hide? Ask the land you live on, she will tell you. … Please

comb my hair in the sun. It must shine a bit, tomorrow night is

the gala. I am the dragon in Wagner’s ‘Sigfried’. I can sleep by

myself, please, I don’t need injections any more. … Good

evening ladies and gentlemen. Tonight, we will broadcast again

our live program last week when our wellknown digital soprano

broke her famous NAI into small pieces. We hope our international

pride Mrs. Semra Can recovers soon. Keep tuned to our channel and

stop zapping! … Contagious diseases, four millions. … It is

the disease that mice lice contaminate human beings, and that has

killed millions in history. … Biiip! … Unfortunately, time is

up! The correct answer was ‘What is plague?’… Please comb my

hair properly. Today is the visitors’ day. You will bring another

NAI for me tomorrow, you will, won’t you? And don’t forget the

hairpins I put on in ‘Madame Butterfly’. … Un bel di _vedremo.

Let me look. Oh, great. But dear, how many times do I have tell

you to put some more dark color here so that my eyes look bigger,

eh! You know these critics. They are the devils after details.

Anyway, all right that’s enough, enough I said, you can leave.

Now it’s show time. Let’s see if my opera fans have rushed to

watch me on stage instead of watching primetime nonsense on TV.

Una voce poco fa. This is a new voice. … Correct, yes, The

Barber of Seville, Rossini’s famous work. Ladies and gentlemen,

Mrs. Semra Can gave the correct answer to our final question

tonight. Mrs. Can, you have thirtythousand points, that means

thirty million Turkish liras. From this stand of gifts you can

select anything worth thirty million. … Stop, please don’t do

this to me. I will give as many names as you want. … Yes, he

was there at the meeting. … Right, he was there too. … No!

But that’s my husband. No! Yes, he was there too! … What!

Please, no, stop it, he is my one and only son. Stop twisting my

flesh please. Okay, my son was at that illegal meeting too. …

Now, all you have to do is to inhale from your diaphragm and to

keep your breath inside. Your voice will have a stronger volume

and you will be able to sing longer with only one breath. Even if

your voice is weak, you can improve your singing capacity by the

help of these exercises. Of course, the aim is not to shout more,

but to utter the right meaning with the correct stress. One of

the best exercises is this: Stand in front of a wall. Give your

back to the wall. Your whole body from the heels to the head

should touch the wall. Take a deep breath from the diaphragm,

keep it in your tummy. Feel the breath in every cell in your

back, and then exhale it slowly, no, not all of it at once, I

said slowly. Yes, like this, aaaaaaaa! Right, now repeat. Now,

try, eeeeeee! Yes! Exactly, perfect! Now, let’s try the other

vowels. … But sir, this wall is wet. … Mrs. Butterfly, this

is the torture room, you didn’t expect us to provide for you an

airconditioned room, did you? … Some air, I need some fresh

air please, a little sun. My hair is wet all over. I’ll have a

stiff neck, and I won’t be able to sing tonight. … Hey, she has

confessed enough, and we have the names we wanted. That’s enough.

You can let this slut go. Get the next one in. We will make many

sopranos chirpy chirpy cheep in this room! Ha, ha, ha! …

Tomorrow, I’ll sell everything left in the house to the cobbler.

The Human Rights Committee is sending a message to the whole

world. When we’re getting ready for the twentyfirst century,

these abominable scenes, prove how terrible war is. Our news will

continue. Keep your eyes on us. … Excuse me, you bought this

antique candle from Mrs. Semra Can, didn’t you? Sell it to me, I

can pay however much you want. … Nooo! They can’t have killed

my son, nooo! They had promised. … Ladies and gentlemen,the

last piece our famous soprano will sing for us tonight is from

Puccini’s ‘Gianni Schicchi’. She has changed the famous aria ‘O

mio babbino caro’ a bit. Farewell my dearest baby. ‘O mio bambino

caro’. … We must invite the masses to a republican and secular

line of politics. The party leaders do not seem to have realized

how vital this is. I’m afraid soon we’ll have to say farewell to

democracy, ladies and gentlemen. … My hair, please don’t forget

to take my hair out to the sun tomorrow. Addio del passato. I’m

free. I’ll hide myself, so as not to die in our _first meeting.

I’m free. I’ll call butterflies for you from far away lands. Una

voce poco faaaaaaaaaaaa!

(Translated from Turkish by the author)


(*) NAI is a long wooden flutelike musical instrument held
sideways. It has a deep sound with a mystical tone. It is very
difficult to play the Nai, or to get the right sound out of it as
the player must know how to put his lips on the mouth of the
instrument. It is an indispensable _member _of an orchestra
especially in Turkish Classical Music.

(**) UGUR MUMCU was one of the most famous journalists,
columnists, writers of Turkey, who devoted his life to doing
research into state terror, the affairs of the PKK, and of the
mafia. He was assassinated in 1993 by a bomb put in his car. The
assassin is still unknown. Many claim that there are evidences
against the state or the secret service. In the TV program
referred to here, the contestants are given the answers, they
decide about how much money they will win, and then guess the
right question. SAKINCALI PIYADE is the title of Ugur Mumcu’s
most famous play he wrote to criticise the military takeover of