By Laman Ismayilova
"Leyli and Majnun," a classic Azerbaijani tale of young lovers and meddling parents, has been compared to "Romeo and Juliet " in Mark Morris Dance Group’s production.
The story was given lusciously sensuous form, with gentle, insistent music from the Silkroad Ensemble and two celebrated Azerbaijani singers, mugham masters Alim Gasimov and his daughter Farghana Gasimova.
The first opera to a libretto by the eminent composer Uzeir Hajibeyli, based on the tragedy of Fizuli "Leili and Majnun" is the first opera not only in Azerbaijan, but also the entire Muslim East.
The opera became a founder of the unique new genre in musical culture of the world, which synthesizes oriental and European musical forms, resembling a dialogue of two musical cultures of East and West.
It was first performed on January 12 1908 at the Taghiyev Theatre in Baku.
"Leili and Majnun" is a tragic love story, in which the male character Majnun (literally meaning "crazy" in Arabic) goes mad because he cannot be with his beloved Leyli.
The most popular version of this love story "Leyli and Majnun" was penned by Nizami Ganjavi (1141-1209), who lived and died in Ganja.
On March 8-24, Morris’s hour-long work was staged at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts(Tryon Festival Theater) in the city of Urbana (Illinois), Harris Theater for Music and Dance (Harris Theater) in Chicago (Illinois) and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Kennedy Center Opera House) in Washington.
Each performance was met with a great and long ovation. Morris’s work was highly appreciated by foreign media.
Artists performance was accompanied by the world-famous dance groups Mark Morris Dance Group under the supervision of choreographer Mark Morris and the music ensemble Silkroad Ensemble under the direction of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Trend Life reported.
The motifs of the works of Leili and Majnun by Azerbaijani poets of the 12th and 16th centuries were used by Nizami Ganjavi and Muhammad Fizuli. The works were performed in the Azerbaijani language. The titles were presented in English. The performance was arranged by Alim Gasimov with Johnny Gandelsman and Colin Jacobsen.
Alim Gasimov performed the party of Majnun, while Farghana Gasimova played beautiful Leyli.
Young mugham singers, laureates of international competitions Kamila Nabiyeva and Miralam Miralamov, musicians Rauf Islamov (kamancha) and Zeki Veliyev (tar) took part in the project.
Notably, Mark Morris became interested in the opera "Leyli and Majnun" in 2007, when he first performed with Alim Gasimov and his daughter Farghana Gasimova and the ensemble "Silk Road".
In 2016, mugham elements and choreography were added to the opera.
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova
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