TODAY.AZ / Voice of Diaspora

European Azerbaijan Society supports world premiere of a new adaptation of Layla and Majnun

26 August 2010 [10:55] - TODAY.AZ
On August 20, The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) reiterated its dedication to international promotion of Azerbaijani arts and culture by supporting the world premiere of a new adaptation of Layla and Majnun. Covered by all German media, this was performed as the opening night of the Ruhrtriennale Music and Arts Festival, which takes place in the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan region of Germany and continues for nearly two months.

The audience included Mrs Ute Schafer, Minister for Families, Children, Youth, Culture and Sports for North Rhine-Westphalia and Mrs Hannelore Kraft, Minister-President for North Rhine-Westphalia.

Telling a story of star-crossed lovers, the piece was adapted as an opera by the Palestinian-Israeli composer Samir Odeh-Tamimi and poet and playwright Albert Ostermaier, after a poem by Nizami (1141-1203), one of the foremost Azerbaijani poets and philosophers. It was directed by Willy Decker and the production was overseen by Eva-Maria Voidtlander, Chief Dramaturg.

The theme of this year's Ruhrtriennale, an artistic voyage of discovery, is entitled Migration – Searching for the Path. This seeks to explore the world of Islamic thinking, tracing continuity from the roots of ancient Islamic mysticism and myth through to contemporary issues. The story formed the basis of the first opera in the east, also entitled Layla and Majnun, written in 1908 by the great Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov.

Featuring an orchestra directed by Peter Rundel, the main protagonists were played by Nils Cooper (Majnun) and Irene Kugler (Layla), both of whom brought the required sense of pathos to their roles. All artists delivered magnificent performances in this grandiose and moving work.

During the post-performance reception, attended by the artists, distinguished guests and sponsors, the organizers expressed their gratitude to TEAS for its generous support of the event. Tale Heydarov, Chairman, TEAS, delivered a speech during which he reminded all those in attendance that Azerbaijan was the first eastern country to stage opera and ballet, describing the new version of Layla and Majnun as a world-class production of the Romeo and Juliet of the East. He extended an invitation to attendees to visit Azerbaijan to see Hajibeyov's adaptation. Tale Heydarov also had an opportunity in which to greet Mrs Kraft.

Layla and Majnun will be staged seven more times during the festival. For more information, visit More information on TEAS’ cultural and other activities may be found at


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