The Sea-crossed fisherman

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A world premiere opera by Michael Ellison

Deniz Küstü (The Sea-Crossed Fisherman), based on the 1978 novel of ‘Turkey’s greatest writer’ Yasar Kemal, is at once a celebration of Istanbul and an unflinching look into some of its most pressing ecological and social issues. The larger than life, ever-dreaming, sensitive soul of Fisher Selim, with his dolphin friends and swordfish adversaries atop the Bosphorus and Sea of Marmara, create a central seascape that forms a stark contrast to the seedy, gangster-ridden back streets of Karaköy and Beyo─člu, where wanted murderer Zeynel is pursued by the police, his criminal persona absurdly exaggerated by a corrupt media.

Deniz Küstü is a dramatic, at times surreal interplay between lyricism and idealism, profound human longings and love of man’s coinhabitants on earth and sea, with darker social realities. As much as any Kemal work, Deniz Küstü, ‘speaks for those who have no voice’ (John Berger). It is a passionate, proto-environmentalist work with a uniquely humanist, Kemalian perspective—ahead of its time, poignantly framing issues of utmost urgency today.