By Nazrin Gadimova
A concert dedicated to the 140th anniversary of Azerbaijani theater was held in Heydar Aliyev Palace of Baku on June 25.
The event was organized in the framework of projects implemented in accordance with the decree of the Azerbaijani President on the anniversary of the creation of Azerbaijani professional national theater.
An exhibition featuring photographs, literature and theatrical costumes took place. The event was attended by government officials, including representatives of government agencies and ministries, as well as prominent figures of science, education, culture and art.
Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister, writer and PhD Elchin Efendiyev spoke about the origin, formation and development of the national theater at the opening ceremony.
Fascinating theatrical performances of national and world classics with all the well-known creative teams of the country were delivered during the event. The performances were accompanied by photos and videos of prominent figures of culture and art, composers and actors who played an important role in the development of the national theater, as well as by scenes from various plays.
At the end of the event Minister of Culture and Tourism Abulfaz Garayev congratulated the Azerbaijani theatrical community on the anniversary and read out the presidential decree on awarding high state awards and honorary titles to the theatrical figures of the country.
President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on awarding the orders "Sharaf" and "Shohrat" and the "Tereggi" medal to theatrical figures for their merits in the development of Azerbaijani theater on June 25.
The President also signed a decree on awarding the titles "People's Artist", "Honorary Art Worker", "Honorary Artist", and "Honorary Cultural Worker".
On the same day an awards ceremony for the traditional "Zirve" (Pinnacle) award, which was established by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan in 2007, was held.
The sixth awards ceremony was timed to the 140th anniversary of the Azerbaijani national theater.
Speaking at the event, Abulfaz Garayev thanked President Ilham Aliyev for the highest care and attention to the field of culture.
"'Zirve' is being awarded for the sixth year running," Garayev said. "This prize is awarded for the efforts in the fields of theater, music, film and visual arts, as well as for preservation, enrichment and prosperity of the national culture."
On June 24, an art exhibition dedicated to the 140th anniversary of Azerbaijani theater opened in Baku.
The first professional spectacle in Azerbaijani language was staged on March 23, 1873. Hasanbay Zardabi, a secondary school teacher and Najaf bey Vezirov, a student of the school, were initiators of the spectacle. Students of the school played "Vizier of Lankaran Khanate" play by famous Azerbaijani playwright M.F.Akhundov on the stage of Baku Public Assembly.
The second show, "Haji Gara" (Miser's adventures), which is another comedy by M.F.Akhundov, was staged on April 17, 1873.
The development of professional theater and the staging of spectacles in Baku ceased after several shows. Zardabi was busy with the creation of "Akinchi" newspaper, and Najaf bey Vezirov went to Russia for studies.
Opening of a school in Shusha in 1881 and an elementary school for girls in 1894, and also opening of a musical school by critic Kharrat Gulu and the involvement of young singers there drew interest of the local intellectuals in theater. So, amateur spectacles were staged by young teachers in Shusha during summer holidays. In the initial years the repertoire consisted of M.F.Akhundov's works.
In 1888, a theatrical troupe was created in Baku with close participation of Sultan Ganizade and Nariman Narimanov. In 1897, the first professional group, titled "Muslim Drama Troupe", was established. The repertoire of the pre-revolutionary theater consisted of works by Azerbaijani playwrights.
New theatrical troupes, so-called "comradeships", appeared under the influence of the Russian Revolution in the early 20th century.
In 1919, Azerbaijan State Theater was founded.