Dede Korkut – The Story of Tepegöz

Docufictional Music Theatre for Orchestra, Vocals, Movement
 and Video Installation by Marc Sinan
Dresdner Sinfoniker – Conductor: Fabián Panisello
Soloists: Jelena Kuljić, Jun Kawasaki, Marc Sinan, 
Sascha Friedl, Ulzhan Baibussynova, Mehri Asadullayeva, Askar Soltangazin, Toir Kuziyev
Production: Markus Rindt & Marc Sinan
Artistic direction: Marc Sinan

Choreography: Aydin Teker
Technical direction and Light Design: Albrecht Leu
Video and stage: Isabel Robson

Dramaturgy and text: Holger Kuhla
A Co-Production by the Dresdner Sinfoniker,
the Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin and HELLERAU – European Center for the Arts Dresden


In Turkey and Central Asia, the heroic tales of Dede Korkut – the singing and lute-playing sage of the Oghuz – are recounted with the same esteem as that preserved for the Nibelungenlied in Germany. A brutal rape led to the birth of the »Cyclops« Tepegöz. Born into an alien world, he was not only hated but also became the bitter enemy of the Oghuz, whose acceptance he desperately desired. This dramatic conflict forms the backdrop for a project that offers a dynamic amalgam of music, images, text, bodies and song. Marc Sinan’s work is based on documentary videos of Central Asian musicians which he and Markus Rindt filmed during their extensive journeys through Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, along with video interviews with young Istanbul-based literati, philosophers and thinkers about their take on the story of Tepegöz. The Oghuzian narrative tradition teams up with the many resources of modern theatre and traditional music meets contemporary compositions, thereby opening up a dialogue between medieval folklore and the present day.



»Dede Korkut« – Marc Sinan’s docufictional musical theatre – features a blend of contemporary choreography, audio and video installation, modern compositions and traditional music. Guest musicians from Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan pool their talents to give a concert with the Dresdner Sinfoniker. Aydin Teker’s unconventional approach transforms soloists – such as the singer Jelena Kuljić, the double-bass player Jun Kawasaki, the sub-contrabass flute player Sascha Friedl and the guitarist Marc Sinan – into objects of choreographic intervention. Projected images from Central Asia set the room in motion. And in recognition of Adolphe Appias’s revolutionary work at the Festspielhaus Hellerau in Dresden in the early days of the 20th century, the musicians play at different levels within the room. The libretto combines a poetic reinterpretation of the traditional tale of »Tepegöz« with voices from the literature scene in Istanbul who over the course of video interviews give their contemporary take on this legend which is of fundamental importance to the self-image of Turkish-speaking nations.


Ideas on Interpretation

In the myth, the »Cyclops« Tepegöz stands for the apparently eternal outsider with whom even an orphan like Dede Korkut is unable to negotiate a form of coexistence. The project combines the ambivalences of the literary original with the folk tunes of Central Asia. This myth, which has been handed down from generation to generation, is reinterpreted as a reflection on the »loneliness« of Tepegöz, replete with anger, sadness, pride and violence. The »case« is seen from the perspective of the one-eyed misfit and therefore not just refers to the mythically outlined fate of a single individual but also has a subtextual significance within the context of European – and global – conflict situations. »Dede Korkut« aims to make ambiguities tangible using the powerful and archaic poetry that can be found in both the actual legend and in the traditional music of Central Asia.



An Oghuzian shepherd rapes a nymph at a sacred place. This crime results in the birth of a one-eyed child and the onset of an irredeemable curse. Arus, an Oghuzian knight, takes the orphaned »Cyclops« into his home and raises him side by side with his own son Bassat. But Tepegöz proves to be untameable and is ultimately chased away into the lonely expanse of the steppe. His mother, the nymph, appears to him in his hour of need. She gives him a present of a ring that renders him invincible. The outcast quickly becomes a deadly threat to the Oghuz people, who call upon the singer Dede Korkut to negotiate a »false« peace with Tepegöz, who nevertheless continues his killing spree, leading Bassat to vow to kill his »milk brother«. Tepegöz takes him captive in the mistaken belief that he’s just an unknown warrior. But Bassat succeeds in dazzling the sleeping »Cyclops« using the same ploy as Odysseus. At the end of a fierce duel, Tepegöz finds out that the man who is about to kill him is his very own brother.