Don Juan Archiv Wien International Symposia Series
Ottoman Empire & European Theatre V
Istanbul 13. - 14. June 2013

Call For Papers

 Don Juan Archiv Wien International Symposium Istanbul 2013 OTTOMAN EMPIRE & EUROPEAN THEATRE V

Culture of Politics or Cultural Politics:
Ambassadors as Cultural Actors in the Ottoman-European Relations

On the Occasion of the 265th Anniversary of Mustafa Hatti Efendi’s (ca. 1680-1760) Vienna Mission (1748)

In their state they even have entertainments namely, ‘opera’ and ‘komadiye’, and ornamented playhouses with four to five floors.”

13-14 June 2013

Istanbul, Pera Museum

The historical importance of the Ottoman Empire’s presence in Europe is highlighted by its frequent appearance in theatre, music and arts. The aim of Don Juan Archiv Wien’s annual symposia entitled Ottoman Empire and European Theatre, alternately hosted in Vienna and Istanbul between 2008 and 2011, is to explore, on the one hand, the various performative expressions of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Turkish/Ottoman culture and diplomacy on European theatre stages, and on the other hand, the appearance of European theatre and opera in the Ottoman Empire, and the Ottoman attitude towards Europe.

The symposium in 2013 will follow in the footsteps of the past conferences: in 2008, which marked the 200th anniversary of Sultan Selim III’s death and was entitled ‘The Age of Sultan Selim III and Mozart (1756–1808)’; in 2009, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Joseph Haydn’s death, ‘The Time of Joseph Haydn: From Sultan Mahmud I to Mahmud II (r.1730–1839)’; in 2010 on the 200th anniversary of Lord Byron’s visit to Constantinople, ‘Seraglios and Harems’, and in 2011 on the 250th anniversary of Christoph W. Gluck’s Don Juan ou le festin de pierre and Le cadi dupé (Vienna 1761).

The 2013 conference will take place on the occasion of the 265th anniversary of Mustafa Hatti Efendi’s (ca. 1680-1760) Vienna Mission (1748), who was the first Ottoman ambassador to Vienna (1748) in the eighteenth century to mention ‘opera’ and ‘comedy’ in his Sefâretnâme, and the eighth envoy before the first resident Ottoman embassy in Vienna was established under the reign of Sultan Selim III (r. 1789-1807), and will explore:



Culture of Politics or Cultural Politics: Ambassadors as Cultural Actors in the Ottoman-European Relations

Diplomats recurrently appear in various fields of not only political but also cultural history. A special aspect of diplomats is observed in the reciprocal relations of the Ottoman Empire with its European counterparts particularly during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. According to the Austrian diplomat, orientalist and first president of the Austrian Academy of Sciences Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall (1774-1856), who initially compiled in his monumental Geschichte des Osmanischen Reiches (Pesth, 10 vols., 1827-1835) a register of envoys and ambassadors to and from the Ottoman Empire, the first given Ottoman ambassador is dated 1318 and sent to Egypt, and the first given ambassador to the Ottoman Empire (Edirne the Ottoman capital then) is dated 1346 and from the Byzantine Empire.

Theatre, accordingly spectacles of all kinds soon became part of the diplomatic world. The first Ottoman diplomat known to have visited a spectacle during his mission abroad is Envoy Mustafa sent to Venice in 1504, where he attended a performance of the story of Orpheus, ballet dances and other carnival activities. The first scenic carnival spectacle – a ballet and a comedy – given in Pera was in 1524 in presence of the Bailos of the Republics of Florence and Venice, and organized by the Florentine and Venetian communities respectively. The evidently first theatre plays in European sense known to date in Kostantiniyye were delivered at the French Embassy in 1665.

Especially the genre of opera was integral to diplomatic life to such an extent that ‘diplomats’ operas’ – that is, operas commissioned by or dedicated to diplomats – can be considered a genre of its own right. In the Italian opera history there are almost two-hundred diplomats’ operas dedicated to and commissioned by diplomats. The first opera in the Italian opera history dedicated to a diplomat also stems from Venice and dates from 1611 – the Intermedi during the favola pastorale La finta Fiammetta. These Intermedi were dedicated to Giovanni Mocenigo, at the time ambassador of the Republic of Venice by the Holy See in Rome and prior to that, in 1604, Venetian ambasciatore to Sultan Ahmed I (r. 1603-1617) in Kostantiniyye. The first opera or cantata known to date to be dedicated to an Ottoman Envoy was performed in 1741 in Messina – just that it was not attended by the envoy Hacı Hüseyin Efendi. The first known diplomats’ opera represented in the Ottoman Empire dates from the carnival of 1786, and was performed at the Swedish embassy in Pera of Kostantiniyye; it was produced by the Swedish ambassador Gerhard Johan Baltasar von Heidenstam (1747-1803; Chargé d’Affaires 1779-1783 and Minister 1783-1790), with the participation of various members of the corps diplomatique: ambassador Heidenstam’s spouse, but also the wife and the daughter of the Spanish ambassador Juan de Bouligny (res. 1779-1795), and not least Herr von Raab (Anton Nikolaus Reichsritter von Raab), Imperial Councillor (“kaiserlicher Rath”) and at the time translator to the Holy Roman Empire’s embassy.

This conference will fundamentally be devoted to explore the cultural role of ambassadors between the Ottoman Empire and European States from the beginnings until early nineteenth century. The diplomatic visits and public audiences of, be it Ottoman ambassadors at the European courts, or be it European ambassadors at the Ottoman Court were frequently events of high allure and influence: not only politically, thus diplomatically, but also culturally and on a popular level. Diplomats’ stately and public audiences and the Ottoman and European ambassadors themselves were a favoured subject for European painters – among others, Jean-Baptiste Vanmour (1671-1737) and Giuseppe Bonito (1707-1789).

Ottoman envoys and ambassadors, as the representative of ‘The Grand Turk’, ‘Le Grand Seigneur’ or ‘Il Gran Signore’, as well as the symbolic of the ‘[Muslim] Orient’ were illustrative of a cross exchange of crucial value to prevail up today. Regarding the Ottoman aspect of the cultural role of diplomacy, several prominent ambassadors recur in the extent of their influence on the mutual interaction between the Ottoman Empire and the European powers in cultural-historical context: Süleyman Ağa (ambassador to the French Court in 1669, whose visit was immortalized one year later by Molière in Le bourgeois gentilhomme).

Of special interest regarding the Ottoman aspect of the genre of ‘diplomats’ operas’, the Sefâretnâmes; that is, the embassy reports of the ambassadors were of quintessential value: Yirmisekiz Çelebi Mehmed Efendi (ambassador to the French Court in 1721) was the first ambassador who initially mentioned the term ‘opera’ in his sefâretnâme on his Paris mission, thus the foremost written evidence (knowledge) of the term in an Ottoman context.

It is the eighteenth century; when the Ottoman State sent the highest number of envoys and ambassadors to the European States, and especially to the Imperial Court of Vienna as, for instance, Mustafa Hatti Efendi (1748), Ahmed Resmî Efendi (1757-1758; later ambassador also to the Prussian Court in 1763-1764) and Ebubekir Râtib Efendi (1792) who rank among the outstanding Ottoman ambassadors with respect to their cultural influence on both European and Ottoman societies of the era. It is through the end of this century, under the reign of Sultan Selim III (r.1789-1807) who decided to venture into diplomatic reforms, that the Sublime Porte assigned the first resident diplomatic missions in the very four European capitals: London (1793), Vienna (1795), Berlin (1795) and Paris (1796).

A General Register of Ambassadors to and from the Ottoman Empire composed by Don Juan Archiv Wien is online:


Don Juan Archiv Wien invites you to submit abstracts and participate in the Ottoman Empire and European Theatre symposium in 2013 by sharing your scholarship and achievements in the fields of history of diplomacy, theatre and music, cultural and performance studies.

We especially welcome interdisciplinary contributions from scholars of cultural history, history of theatre, dance, music, and art and history of diplomacy.

For further information and updates please visit our website

Key words: history of diplomacy, ambassadors, cultural diplomacy, diplomatic protocol, diplomatic gifts, cultural history, theatre studies, music studies, history of art, Turqueries, Ottoman cultural and diplomatic history, Orientalism.

Don Juan Archiv Wien, in cooperation with UNESCO International Theatre Institute in Vienna, The Austrian Cultural Forum in Istanbul and with the Pera Museum and Istanbul Research Institute of the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation.

Conference Convenors

H. E. Weidinger, Suna Suner, Matthias J. Pernerstorfer, Michael Hüttler

Dates and Venues
Istanbul, Turkey: June 13-14, 2013, at the Pera Museum, Meşrutiyet Cad. 65, TR-34443 Tepebaşı-Beyoğlu Istanbul.

For examples of topics addressed at the 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 symposia, see

Paper ProposalsScholars and artists who wish to present papers are invited to submit proposals containing the following:

Scholars and artists who wish to present papers are invited to submit proposals containing the following:

1.a one-page abstract of the proposed paper naming the presenter(s);
2. contact information, including name, title, position, university or institutional affiliation, postal address, telephone, fax, and email; and
3. a 75-100-word biographical sketch of the presenter(s), including recent publications.

 Please submit proposals to:


The official language of the symposia is English. Each presentation should last thirty minutes (plus fifteen minutes for discussion). Papers presented will be published subsequently in a print volume.

 Deadline for submission of proposals: January 31, 2013

For updated programme and further information please contact:

Don Juan Archiv Wien

Trautsongasse 6/6, A-1080 Vienna; phone: +43-1-2365605-211 fax: +43-1-2365605-230

e-mail: symposium(at)donjuanarchiv(dot)atat


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