|Year of Birth:||1928|
|Year of Death:||2008|
Ay?e Leyla Gencer (Turkish pronunciation: ) née Çeyrekgil (10 October 1928 – 10 May 2008) was a Turkish operatic soprano.
Gencer was a notable bel canto soprano who spent most of her career in Italy, from the early 1950s through the mid-1980s, and had a repertoire encompassing more than seventy roles. She made very few commercial recordings; however, numerous bootleg recordings of her performances exist. She was particularly associated with the heroines of Donizetti.
Leyla Gencer was born in Polonezköy (near Istanbul) to a Turkish father and a Polish mother. Her father, Hasanzade ?brahim Bey (who took the surname Çeyrekgil under the Surname Law of 1934), was a wealthy businessman, whose family was from the city of Safranbolu. Her mother, Lexanda Angela Minakovska, was from a Roman Catholic family of the Lithuanian aristocracy (she later converted to Islam and chose the name Atiye after her husband's death.) Gencer's father died when she was very young. She grew up in the Çubuklu neighbourhood of Istanbul, on the Anatolian side of the Bosphorus strait. In 1946, she married ?brahim Gencer, a banker related to the influential ?pekçi family.
She began to study singing at the Istanbul Conservatory but dropped out to study privately in Ankara with her teacher the Italian soprano Giannina Arangi-Lombardi. After Arangi-Lombardi's death, Gencer continued her studies with the Italian baritone Apollo Granforte. She sang in the chorus of the Turkish State Theater until 1950, when she made her operatic debut in Ankara, as Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana. During the next few years, she became well known in Turkey and sang frequently at functions for the Turkish government.