December 8, 2023

By the CyprusScene Roving Reporter …

Festivals come and go, by George, but our very own local artists remain and continue to amaze us!

The SOS Children’s Village presented Concerts without Borders in Beyond – Opera, Broadway, Pop and dazzled an appreciative crowd early Sunday evening replete with wine and a thousand delicious canapés served to attendees.

This extraordinary presentation opened with the arrival of President Akinci and his entourage as the producer and professional Diva, Demetra George Mustafaoglu, serenaded the ancient abbey walls from the pulpit high above with Tonight in honour of famed composer Leonard Bernstein and Evgenia Zhilskaya mirrored her words in dance.

Then from up the steps a welcome from Dervishe Cherkez-Guryel, Vice President of the SOS Children’s Village in the TRNC, and her song, Raise Me Up. A big voice from a big girl and then her little girl, Kayra took to the stage and played with the Disney Princesses of Anastasia and Pocahontas in their themed songs to the delight of all especially the children therein.

A guest new to the North was Katie Economidou of South Cyprus accompanied by Fikri Toros, who is an MP in the TRNC, on the piano. These two the program tells us were awarded for their music sharing by the State Department of the United States along with Dr. Mustafaoglu. Economidou offered up two well known pieces, Ave Maria and the Habanera from Carmen to the joy of the crowd on recognizing the popular pieces. To be fair, we learned later she was ill and on medication yet set herself the task of not cancelling her participation in such a momentous event.

Next in waltzed Peri Sualp to reveal that it’s possible for bright young women to sing opera as she offered the well-known Puccini song O Mio Babbino Caro and the sweetest Lullaby by Johannes Brahms. Pure and sweet. Just before intermission, Mrs. Mustafaoglu with great technical skill treated all to the hilarious antics of Olympia’s Aria from the Offenbach opera Tales of Hoffman and On My Lips Every Kiss is Like Wine from the German Operetta Giuditta, very sexy with tambourine and dancing. Joy to the eyes and the ears.

During the interval a lovely array of donated wine and delicious canapés were served and SOS paraphernalia was sold to aid the organization.

ACT II brought the 2 young angels and their teacher who donned black attire and fancy dress hats to present Together from Gypsy as the trio danced and clowned to this old jewel.

Karya Guryel took to centre stage again with her sweet voice offering My Favourite Things, an oldie from The Sound of Music and How Far I’ll Go, Disney, for the young guests in the audience. 

Cohort Peri Sualp gave up a less known piece of music entitled I Enjoy Being a Girl of Flower Drum Song with two cell phones in hand and teenage girl antics across the stage. Yes, teenage girls do like their phones and it is precisely part of being a GIRL! She then cleverly fooled us into believing she was going to duplicate Ms. Economidou’s Ave Maria but ceased after a line and asked the audience if they would like some Cypriot music, to the delight of all, and found a Cyprus headscarf in the audience, wink wink, and invited the violinist/cellist Muharrem Cemoglu to come and join her in a duet of a local song called Dillarga which elicited clapping and singing along with members of the audience. She’s a joy to hear and watch. No novice to the stage obviously!

Economidou and Toros joined once again to deliver the Loreen McKinnet song Tango to Evora with Greek and Turkish words to the huge delight of the mixed audience of international people. Next she offered the song Kardeşin Duymaz (Your brother doesn’t hear, I believe) by a famous Turkish composer Livaneli in Turkish and touched the hearts of natives longing for brotherhood in Cyprus. And lastly Economidou shared Chrysoprasino Fyllo by Theodorakis, a Greek song about the beauty of the island of Cyprus and its many treasures to screaming raves of approval!

Lastly the Diva took the stage and Demetra pulled a large red feather hand fan from the white costume-holding hall tree on the stage and set a beeline for the grand piano where she swept onto the lid and set up her little known song, Art is calling For Me. She had “roulades and the trills that would send the cold chills down the backs of all hearers of (her) vocal frills” as I found the words on the internet. And what more could describe this inimitable artist who not only sings her heart out but also produced the night and trained the young performers. Incredible talent and voice.

Once off the ivories, Demetra began the theme from the movie Exodus then interrupted it with a Turkish song entitled Memleketim which I found means Homeland and then sandwiched back to Exodus after bringing natives in to join her verses. The cast was supported through the night by pianist Yuliya Strastenkava. This ended the show on such a high note that we hoped for more; however, Demetra walked centre and thanked all for participating and supporting the fundraiser and announced it was finally “Time to Say Goodbye” and the cast joined in for a beautiful and fitting farewell to the night. A rousing standing ovation ensued, led by President and Mrs. Akinci and cold chills were really felt by everyone there and Bellapais Abbey was truly the “abbey of beautiful peace.”

Mobile video of Peri Sualp

Mobile video of Demetra George Mustafaoglu

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