The Twins of the Opera

By Melda Akansel
Having made the promotion of Turkish composers and their works their mission, Sinem and Didem Balık, known in the music world as the Opera Twins, are greatly admired by vocal-music connoisseurs.
Soprano Leyla Gencer, Turkish opera’s gift to the world
The famous tenor Placido Domingo have spotlighted the Balık sisters as “the only twin opera singers who, as soprano and mezzo soprano, give joint and solo performances on the world stages.” The twins continue their artistic careers in Austria.

Didem & Sinem Balik sisters.(By Erkan Tabakoglu)

Didem and Sinem Balık are examples of the genetic inheritance of artistic talent from generation to generation. They were introduced to music when they accompanied their uncle on the guitar and sang his compositions. The piano that their father had bought when they were five years old became their best friend during their high school years. Their professional music careers started when they entered Izmir Dokuz Eylul University State Conservatory. One year after their graduation in 1998, they participated in productions of the Antalya State Opera. When they met the Austrian music professor Toma Popescu, the course of their careers changed towards Vienna, the capital of operettas, instead of the US, where they had thought to pursue a profession in music. Moving to Vienna in 2000, the twins started their education in the Prayner Conservatory with a scholarship from The Ministry of Culture.

The Opera Twins, performing in many productions since their graduation in 2003, not only in Austria but also in many European countries, are enhancing their repertoire with the solo and joint concerts that they have been focusing on lately. The Twins debuted before American audiences for the first time at three concerts in New York.

While Didem tells us how exciting it was to bring together Turks and art lovers in New York and the positive response they received, Sinem reminded her about the concert in the Central Park, saying, “We were very happy to be able to present opera to music lovers in the open air, especially in Central Park. At the same time we are very proud as Turkish artists.” The twins, who presented arias from operas from around the world in five different languages in their New York concerts, also attach importance to the promotion of works by Turkish composers.

Didem says: “We made the promotion of Turkish composers our mission. Our 8/9 and 5/8 rhythms are very unusual for the European and American audiences and they like it very much when they listen to it.” She adds that they perform Turkish works wearing caftans, and that they receive very affirmative responses from the audiences.

The two artists are working hard to promote opera and classical music in Turkey also. Soprano Sinem says: “We do everything that we can to increase the interest of Turks in opera. We attempt to bring the theatrical element to the forefront in all of our concerts, particularly those in Turkey.” The Twins, performing well known arias and pieces from operettas, Broadway musicals, French melodies and Neapolitan folksongs, also take their audience on a historic tour. For example, when they are sing Carmen, they put on stage costumes for Carmen, or they put on male costumes when bringing male characters to the stage.

Balik sisters in New York.


The Twins, who are preparing for a concert for European MPs in the European Parliament this coming Fall, dream of sharing a stage with the famous tenor Placido Domingo. Didem and Sinem, who had an opportunity to sing for Domingo in Vienna and received high praise from him, state that an artist should never consider the point one has reached as very good.

Sinem says, “At the moment when an artist does not say ‘I’m very good, I have reached a certain point’ anymore, this means that he has achieved the maturity that will carry him to the top” and adds, “Having character is necessary in order to become a distinguished artist.” Her sister Didem supports Sinem: “Our professor Sevda Aydan would address students at the Conservatory as ‘artist candidates.’ Look at the artists who are accepted worldwide.

Even if they are sure about their success they demonstrate behavior which is exemplary for society.” The Twins, believing that being artists also brings responsibilities, admire artists such as Leyla Gencer, Placido Domingo and the American mezzo soprano Dolora Zajick, who could combine their personalities with their art, and who became distinguished themselves in their fields.  

The two ladies, who turn into giants on the stage, have been together since their births as identical twins. The characteristic differentiating Didem and Sinem most is probably the pitch of their voices. With their appearance, hair styles and acting skills, the Twins also arouse interest in the audience. Sinem, explaining her happiness of sharing the profession and the stage with her sister, says, “To be twins is an advantage in our profession. Especially during the duets the artists have to pitch their voices carefully. Didem being a soprano and me being a mezzo soprano enables us to blend our voices.” The Twins, sharing their professions, their success, and their future, in short their lives, sum themselves up by saying, “We complete each other.”

(July 2006, 21th Issue) 
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07