A Queer Ultra-Nationalist Opera from a Utopian Archive: Rıza Nur’s Historical Horror Libretto Cehennemde Bir Celse (A Session in Hell)
Rüstem Ertuğ Altınay
30 October 2019, Wednesday
13:30 - 15:00
The literature on Turks and the opera tends to focus either on their representation in European operas or the state’s use of the opera in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey as a tool of cultural diplomacy, Europeanization, and nation-building. Cehennemde Bir Celse (A Session in Hell) (1932), an historical horror opera by the queer ultra-nationalist politician Rıza Nur (1879-1942), demonstrates how dissident figures also wrote librettos to challenge the political hegemony in Turkey. The libretto, which Nur developed as part of his grand archival project, suggests how queer utopian cultural productions can serve right-wing ideologies. As such, the libretto challenges the association of queer utopianism and resistance with progressive political ideals.