Semiha Berksoy

Turkish soprano and painter Semiha Berksoy was born on 24 May 1910 in Çengelköy, Istanbul. She studied music and visual arts at Istanbul Conservatory and later at Berlin Music Academy.

From 1934 she enjoyed a long career as an eccentric but brilliant singer. In 1934 she sang in Ahmet Adnan Saygun's Özsoy - the first Turkish opera. She worked internationally, in Germany, Portugal and the USA. She sang in operas by Richard Strauss and Wagner, and helped to set up Turkish State Opera and Ballet.

Although she retired from Istanbul Opera in 1972, she later appeared in New York City, at the age of ninety, in the opera The Days Before: Death, Destruction and Detroit III by Robert Wilson.

Four years later she was admitted to Istanbul Memorial Hospital with kidney, heart and lung problems, where she died on 15 August 2004, aged ninety-four.