Uzeyir Hajibeyli’s “Koroghlu” opera is considered one of the unique samples of the world’s classical operas. The opera has been composed in 1932-1936 and was first performed in 1937 in Baku. Many critics consider this opera the crown of the Uzeyir bey’s musical creativity – “specific encyclopedia of Hajibeyli style”.
The libretto of the opera consist of five acts has been composed by Uzeyir Hajibeyli together with Habib Ismayilov and one of the famous Azerbaijani playwrights Muhammed Said Ordubadi.
The plot of the opera which is a heroism epos is based on “Koroghlu” epos which is famous also beyond the borders of Azerbaijan, in Caucasus, Middle Asia and Near East. The hero of the opera is Koroghlu character who gathers the miserable people struggling for freedom. The negative character is Hasan khan. The plot of the work composed in a mugham opera style has heroism-epic characteristics and it was stressed by the dynamic leitmotives which show the roughness of class struggle in medieval Azerbaijan.
The usage of choir in “Koroghlu” opera pioneered the usage of cantata and oratorio genres in further creativity of Azerbaijani composers. With the purpose of highlighting the characteristics and mentality of the nation which is hero of the opera, Hajibeyli has widely used dance elements which create domestic background. The dance scenes contributed to the establishment of national ballet and its future development.
Art figures of Azerbaijan, Bulbul (Koroghlu), Gulyara Iskenderova (Nigar), M.Bagirov (Hasan khan) and H.Iskenderov (Clown) have performed the roles. The opera has been performed in Moscow in 1938, during culture days of Azerbaijan. In 1943 it has been staged in Russian in Baku and Niyazi was the conductor. In 1975 the artist of the opera was Tahir Salahov who later became famous in USSR. The Opera has been performed beyond the borders of Azerbaijan, in Turkmen language in Ashgabad in 1939 and in Uzbek language in 1950 in Dashkend. The opera has been also performed in Tabriz, Tbilisi, Kiev and Saint Petersburg during the tours of Azerbaijan State Opera and Ballet Theater. In 1952, 1970 and 1985 the score of the opera has been published and it has been recorded.
The success of “Koroghlu” has forced famous western critics to get through and learn Uzeyir Hajibeyli’s creativity. Uzeyir Hajibeyli’s “Koroghlu” opera has been included into the repertoire of Big Theatre in 1940.