CULTURE


"Leyli and Majnun", first opera in East

Baku, March 18, AZERATC

"Leyli and Majnun" is the first opera not only in Azerbaijan, but also the entire Muslim East. The opera was first performed on January 12, 1908 in Baku. The opera laid the foundation of the 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.

Uzeyir Hajibayov made Azerbaijani opera history when he composed “Leyli and Majnun”. He was 22 at the time of its premiere. He and his younger brother, Jeyhun (1891-1962), wrote the libretto based on the poetic rendition of "Leyli and Majnun" by Azerbaijani poet Fuzuli (1480-1562). Many of the verses were kept in their original form. The opera is based on Azerbaijani mugham and folklore, which gives it originality and endears it to audiences.

The opera’s first director was Huseyn Arablinski and its first conductor was Abdurrahimbay Hagverdiyev, a famous Azerbaijani writer. All the parts were played by men, as at that time women were not allowed to perform on stage.

As the first opera to be based on a synthesis of mugham and European classical music, “Leyli and Majnun” began a new opera genre.

The story is taken from the poem “Leyli and Majnun”, written by the Azerbaijani classical poet, Mahammad Fizuli, in the 16th century.

Changes have been made to the opera in its 95 years of performance. The first version of the opera consisted of five acts and six scenes, while the more recent version has three acts and six scenes.

 

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