By Laman Ismayilova
A concert dedicated to the 110th anniversary of the Azerbaijani opera was held in the Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois church in Paris.
The event was held with the support of the Association of Friends of Azerbaijan in France (FADA), Azertag reported.
Azerbaijani Ambassador to France Rahman Mustafayev, FADA President Jean-Francois Mancel, Deputy Mayor of the 1st arrondissement of Paris, French journalists, artists, cultural workers and others took part in the celebration.
Rahman Mustafayev told the guests about the history of the first Azerbaijani opera in the Muslim East, the first parliament in the Muslim East founded in the Azerbaijani democratic state, where the women gained rights to elect and be elected for the first time in the Muslim East.
In his speech, FADA President Jean-Francois Mancel noted that the magnificent building of the Azerbaijan Opera has a symbolic value and reflects the current development of Azerbaijan. In addition, he stressed that Azerbaijan, being the cradle of the first opera in the Muslim East, is at the forefront of development.
The event was followed by a spectacular concert.
Azerbaijani opera music was performed by Timur Abdikiev (bass), Irina Kopilova (soprano), Regina Rustamova (mezzo-soprano) and Saida Zulfugarova (piano).
The history of Azerbaijani opera was laid with work of U. Hajibeyli "Leyli and Majnun" which is considered the first opera in the Muslim and East world.
For the first time the opera was staged in the theater of the Azerbaijani oil-industrialist Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev in Baku on January 12, 1908. This work is considered the pearl of Azerbaijani culture.
"Leyli 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.
"Leyli and Majnun" opera became the first mugham opera in Azerbaijan. Zulfugar Hajibayov "Ashig Garib" (1916) and "Shah Ismayil" opera by Muslim Magomayev (1916) are also significant examples of this genre.
The year 1937 was remarkable in the history of opera in Azerbaijan.
Hajibeyov's "Koroghlu" (The Blind Man's Son) and Muslim Magomayev's "Nargiz" operas were presented to the audience for the first time.
Koroghlu is Azerbaijan's heroic epos that tell about life of people, their struggle for justice and freedom.
The storyline is based on a national epos about poor, abused villagers who rise up to defeat their unjust, oppressive khans and beys (landowners) in the 16-17th centuries.
The fight of two opposing forces - the people and feudal forms of governance - forms the dramatic basis of the opera. The drama shows the mounting fight of the people for the liberation from the oppressors and enemies of the motherland. Based on his story, Hajibeyli created the opera in five acts, that has become a truly nation's patrimony.
It was premiered on April 30, 1937 at the opera and ballet theater. It was conducted by the composer himself with remarkable Bulbul and Gulyara Iskandarova in leading roles. Since the first night, the opera has always gathered a large audience.
Nargiz opera is the second opera by Muslim Magomayev. Mammed Said Ordubadi is the author of a libretto to the opera. Music of the opera consists of folk songs of Azerbaijan.It is the first Azerbaijani opera on a modern theme.
Azerbaijan's national opera was developed thanks to the works of U.Hajibeyov - Sheikh Sanan (1909, opera), Husband-Wife (1909, musical comedy), Rustam and Sohrab (1910, opera ), If not it but that (1911, musical comedy), Farhad and Shirin (1911, opera), etc.
Zulfugar Hajibeyov (Ashiq Garib 1916), Muslim Magomayev (Shah Ismail, 1919), Afrasiyab Badalbeyli (Nizami, 1948), Fikrat Amirov (Sevil in 1955) and other prominent composers had contributed to the Azerbaijani opera art as well.
Many world famous artists - Fyodr Shalyapin, Leonid Sobinov, Valeri Barsov, Irina Arkhipova, Elena Obraztsova, Maria Biesu, Maya Plisetskaya, Vyacheslav Gordeyev, Zurab Sotkilava, Vladislav Pyavko, Montserrat Cabalier, Anastasia Volochkova, Svetlana Zakharova and others performed at stage of Azerbaijan Opera and Ballet Theater.
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova
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