TODAY.AZ / Arts & Entertainment

Arif Malikov's ballet "The Legend of Love" once again on Baku stage

19 September 2023 [15:00] - TODAY.AZ
Laman Ismayilova

After more than 60 years, the ballet "The Legend of Love" by the outstanding composer, People's Artist Arif Malikov (1933 – 2019) has been once again shown in the composer's homeland.

The large-scale cultural event took place in the Heydar Aliyev Palace on National Music Day within the opening ceremony of the 15th Uzeyir Hajibayli International Music Festival, Azernews reports.

The event was co-organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the Azerbaijan Culture Ministry.

The ballet lovers were looking forward to enjoying "The Legend of Love", a masterpiece of an outstanding composer, which conquered the world scene.

The ballet performance became a bright and the best gift for the audience on National Music Day.

Before the start of the long-awaited show, the guests of the event looked with great interest at the banners and the posters for the ballet which was staged in different years on prestigious theater stages.

A banner with Arif Malikov's photographs, reflecting his creative path, was also in the center of the attention.

Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan, Executive Director of Heydar Aliyev Foundation Anar Alakbarov, Head of the Department for Humanitarian Policy, Diaspora Issues, Multiculturalism and Religion of the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan Farah Aliyeva, the Culture Minister Adil Karimli, government and public figures, representatives of culture and science, creative intelligentsia and youth, diplomatic missions attended the ballet show.

The performance aroused great interest not only among the local audience; numerous guests from around the world came to see "The Legend of Love", including the artistic director of the Arena di Verona Stefano Trespidi, the founder of the FAZIOLI piano factory Paolo Fazioli as well as renown ballet dancer, People's Artist of Russia Nikolay Tsiskaridze, who once embodied Farhad in the ballet "Legend of Love", when it was staged in the Russian Bolshoi Theater.

Before the show, People's Artist of the USSR and Azerbaijan, professor, rector of the Baku Music Academy, well-known pianist, composer Farhad Badalbayli and director of the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater, People's Artist of Azerbaijan, world famous opera singer were invited to the stage Yusif Eyvazov.

In his speech, Farhad Badalbayli emphasized that the cultural community had long been waiting for the show of the ballet "The Legend of Love" on the Azerbaijani stage.

"Arif Malikov has always dreamed that this ballet would be shown in Azerbaijan. Finally it happened, we will see this masterpiece on the Azerbaijani stage on National Music Day. I express my deep gratitude to the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the Culture Ministry in this regard. The ballet show is a bright gift for the 15th Uzeyir Hajibayli International Music Festival. A lot of work was done, the whole troupe worked day and night to show us this premiere," said Farhad Badalbayli.

Yusif Eyvazov noted that there were many foreign guests in the auditorium. Speaking about the ballet, the People's Artist of Azerbaijan emphasized that "The Legend of Love" has wonderful music by the great composer Arif Malikov, amazing choreography by the brilliant Yury Grigorovich and magnificent stage design by the famous artist Simon Virsaladze. Ballet is included in the treasury of world art, and to this day continues to conquer the hearts of millions.

Then the curtain was raised, and the audience started to watch the ballet with bated breath.

"The Legend of Love" has such an attractive, magical effect that the audience literally did not take their eyes off the stage. Music, choreography, storyline, scenery, costumes and, of course, polished movements, impetuosity of jumps, incredible charisma of the ballet dancers made the production very spectacular.

For the historical show, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation prepared more than 200 costumes, as well as scenery and props based on original sketches by artist Simon Virsaladze.

Soloists of the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater, the Azerbaijan State Dance Ensemble, as well as soloists invited from foreign theaters took part in the performance.

The role of Princess Mehmene Banu was performed by the leading soloist of the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater, laureate of international ballet competitions Ayan Eyvazova, laureate of international ballet competitions, the premier of the Russian Bolshoi Theater Denis Rodkin played the role of Farhad, while the leading soloist of the Russian Bolshoi Theater, winner of the international ballet competitions Maria Vinogradova embodied Shirin on the stage.

The music was performed by the Azerbaijan State Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the People's Artist, Yalchin Adigozalov.

The ballet was staged by famous choreographer Yury Grigorovich, while well-known artist Simon Virsaladze worked on the stage design.

The choreographers of the premiere performance in Baku were Yury Grigorovich's assistants - the chief choreographer of the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater, Honored Artist of Russia Ruslan Pronin and Oksana Tsvetnitskaya.

During intermissions, the audience shared their impressions with great pleasure, talking about how they were fascinated by the composer's music, how filigree the choreography was, and the ballet dancers' polished and smooth movements.

Renowned ballet dancer, People's Artist of Russia Nikolay Tsiskaridze was among the honorable guests of the event.

"I was one of the main performers in this ballet production, when it was staged in the Russian Bolshoi Theater. It was impossible to get a role in the ballet "The Legend of Love" - on the one hand, it is a very virtuoso performance, and on the other, it is a production where only the most important stars performed. When I was assigned to prepare a part at a very young age, it became a great approval for me. I was lucky to dance this role several times not only with the choreographer, but also with the composer. I came to Baku because of my love for the unique composer Arif Malikov. I truly believe that this is one of the greatest scores written in world musical culture for ballet. I am very glad that the ballet has been staged in Baku, the composer's homeland. In fact, I also waited a very long time for the performance to be staged in Azerbaijan. Arif Malikov told me that I would dance in it. Unfortunately, it didn't happen... However, now my student is dancing in the production, which is also very nice, so a part of me comes on stage. I hope that Arif Malikov's soul is happy now," said Tsiskaridze.

The Chinese Ambassador to Azerbaijan Guo Min expressed her admiration with the ballet.

"It is a great honor for me to attend the premiere show, to enjoy this amazing ballet. The demonstration of "The Legend of Love" in Baku is a great event, and the audience present at the show was very lucky. Azerbaijan is a country with a rich culture. We really hope that this ballet will be shown to Chinese viewers," the ambassador said.

Director of the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater, People's Artist of Azerbaijan, world famous opera singer Yusif Eyvazov noted that September 18 brought together several significant dates - National Music Day, the birthday of the great Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibayli and the premiere of the ballet "The Legend of Love", which after more than 60 years, shown on the Azerbaijani stage.

"This is a historical, exciting and very happy day for all of us. For this I express my deep gratitude to the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and First Vice-President of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva show great attention and care to the national culture and art. A number of major projects are being implemented in the cultural field," Yusif Eyvazov stressed.

People's Artist of Azerbaijan, Vice-Rector of the Baku Academy of Choreography Tarana Muradova, called the premiere show a great holiday.

"The Legend of Love is a big story that has spread at theaters all over the world. World-famous soloists have performed in the ballet. I am glad that the first ballet that I watched in my youth was "The Legend of Love". I always wanted Arif Malikov's ballet to live on the Azerbaijani stage. It is gratifying that in the ballet production we can see the soloists of the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater, as well as guest artists. I am sure that this ballet will live for centuries, and we, in turn, will try to pass on our art, our culture, our love of dance from generation to generation," she said.

People's Artist of Azerbaijan, professor Arif Huseynov said it is extremely pleasant that viewers see Arif Malikov's masterpiece in high quality.

"The Legend of Love has been demonstrated all over the world, and now it is finally on the Azerbaijani stage. Great music, magnificent scenery, costumes... I am delighted with the production. I congratulate all the spectators on this significant event," said Arif Huseynov.

Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs of the Baku Academy of Choreography, acting rector Mammadzade called the ballet show in Baku a grandiose event.

"For us artists, this is a significant day, we have been waiting for this day for a very long time. A grandiose event has happened - "The Legend of Love" is on the Azerbaijani stage. This is, of course, a brilliant performance. A huge amount of work has been done, for which we are grateful to everyone who contributed to working on the production," said Naila Mammadzade.

Azerbaijani composer and pianist Kamala Alizade, a student of Arif Malikov said that the "The Legend of Love" is a work that will live forever.

"Arif Jahangirovich really waited and believed that this day would come. The ballet "The Legend of Love" is a work that will live forever. And the fact that so many spectators came to the show is proof of this. Friends close to Arif Malikov are here, this is also for them a great, touching event. I had the honor of studying with Arif Malikov, and I will say that these were not only music lessons, but also life lessons," noted Kamala Alizade.

Nadezhda Rovenko from Petrozavodsk (Republic of Karelia, Russia) came to Azerbaijan for the first time, and on her birthday she decided to attend a ballet show.

"My husband and I came to the Azerbaijani capital for a week`s vacation. We saw a poster for "The Legend of Love" and decided to watch it. We love the art of ballet and always visit theaters in every country, in every city where we visit. We are familiar with Azerbaijani music, with the work of Polad Bulbuloglu, Muslim Magomayev. And thanks to the ballet show, we will get acquainted with the work of the Azerbaijani composer Arif Malikov," she said.

The ballet performance was greeted by the audience with deafening applause and shouts of "Bravo!"

The audience did not let the artists leave the stage for a long time, expressing their gratitude for the delightful evening with prolonged applause.

After the viewing, the audience discussed the ballet for a long time, some admired the artistry and plasticity of the artists, others tried to describe the emotions from the perception of the music, others admired the costumes and scenery. But they all agreed that "The Legend of Love" is a real masterpiece.

After the ballet show, People's Artist of Azerbaijan, professor, famous conductor Yalchin Adigozalov noted that now Arif Malikov's ballet will invariably appear on the Azerbaijani stage.

"I congratulate everyone on the magnificent opening of the 15th Uzeyir Hajibayli International Music Festival. For many years, we dreamed that the ballet "Legend of Love" would be staged on the Baku stage. And now we have achieved this goal. Unfortunately, on this significant day with us there is no outstanding composer Arif Malikov, but I am sure his soul is happy. This world-famous work will always be on the Azerbaijani stage. The production involved a large creative cast, masters of art. After the show, we all saw the reaction of the audience, they greeted the artists standing. Music by Arif Malikov is a masterpiece. There are many works in the Azerbaijani musical culture that we are proud of, but "The Legend of Love" has conquered the whole world. The ballet has been staged in 60 countries," said Yalchin Adigozalov.

The leading soloist of the Russian Bolshoi Theater, laureate of international ballet competitions Maria Vinogradova noted that the performance went very well, leaving the most wonderful impressions.

"I am glad that Denis Rodkin and I came to Baku and danced the premiere of a grandiose performance. Music is the first thing that moves us as artists in a performance, and Arif Malikov's music is so amazing, multifaceted that the soul sings when we dance," said Maria Vinogradova.

"It's very pleasant to be in Baku, the homeland of the outstanding Azerbaijani composer Arif Malikov. I was lucky enough to work with him personally, it was 2014, when Yuri Grigorovich was making a new edition of "The Legend of Love". I would like to note that the orchestra in Baku performed very clearly, there was not one false note. When an orchestra sounds with such dedication, dancing is many times more pleasant, it lifts you to a new level. I'll also say about the audience's reaction, I've probably never heard such applause after I danced my first variation, it's quite complex and the viewers appreciated it," Denis Rodkin added.

Note that Arif Malikov composed the ballet "The Legend of Love" to a libretto by the famous Turkish poet Nazim Hikmat based on the drama "Farhad and Shirin".

The ballet premiered on March 23, 1961 at the Leningrad Opera and Ballet Theater (now The State Academic Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg).

In July 1962, the ballet premiered at Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater.


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