Uzeyir Hajibeyli’s “Layla and Majnun” opera- “The first mugam opera” was first performed in 1908. The opera has been composed based on Muhammad Fizuli's poem “Layla and Majnun”. The author of the libretto is Uzeyir Hajibeyli.
It was first performed on January 12, 1908 in Baku at the theatre which belonged to the philanthropist Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev.
In the first performance of the opera the people participated in who later became famous culture and public figures of Azerbaijan. Kurban Pirimov performed on tar who later became well-known tar player. Huseyngulu Sarabski represented Majnun. The composer played in the violin group of the orchestra. Layla role was performed by a man who was a tea-room worker.
Uzeyir Hajibeyli preferred Fuzuli’s “Layla and Majnun” poem and the genres of folk music and this positively influenced the work to be accepted by the society.
All the musical parts of “Layla and Majnun” opera have been composed by the author himself except mugham. Only one Azerbaijani folk song has been used. There is specific rhythmics belonging to every character of the opera.
According to the decree of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic 100 year-anniversary of the opera has been officially celebrated in 2008 in our country. “Layla and Majnun” opera became a part of “Silk Road” project with the participation of famous violoncello master Yo-Yo Ma performing with traditional eastern musical instruments and well-known mugham singer, People’s artist Alim Qasimov and his daughter Farghana Qasimova. The consultant of the project was musicologist, Professor of India University and Baku Music Academy Aida Huseynova. On November 23, 2008 in Doha, the capital city of Qatar the world premiere of “Layla and Majnun” opera with multimedia arrangement was held with participation of western and eastern musicians and the performance of Yo-Yo Ma ensemble.
Mir Mohsun Navvab (1833-1918). Poet, artist, calligraph and musician. He has written “Vuzuh ul-erkam” (“Clarification of numbers”) treatise (1884) as practical resource for those who want to learn and perform Mugham . The introduced almanac has been printed in 1913, with old alphabet under the name “Music art”.
Muslum Magomayev’s “Shah Ismail” opera has been composed in 1916. The mugham opera composed in 1915-1916 is consist of 6 acts and 7 scenes. The author of the libretto and text is composer Mirza Gadir Ismailzade.
The premiere of the opera was held on March 7, 1919 in Baku, with a benefit performance of Huseyngulu Sarabski. Muslim Magomayev was conductor and Huseyn Arablinski was director of the opera. Actors were: H.Sarabski - Shah Ismail, M.H.Teregulov - Aslan Shah and Huseynagha Hajibababeyov – Gulzar.
The second edition was created in 1924.
The premiere was held on December 3, 1924 in Baku, at Turk State Theatre. Muslim Magomayev was its conductor and A.A.Tuganov was the director. Actors were: Huseyngulu Sarabski - Shah Ismail, M.H.Teregulov - Aslan Shah and Khurshid Qajar – Gulzar. On November 20, 1929 the opera was again staged in Baku. And again Muslim Magomayev was its conductor. Abbas Mirza Sharifzadeh was the director and S.S.Serejin and V.V.Roberg were artists. Actors were: H.A.Hajibababeyov - Shah Ismayil and Khurshid Qajar – Gulzar.
In 1930, the third edition of the opera was created. Its premiere was held in Baku, in 1947. Ahad Israfilzade was conductor of the opera.
The premiere of Fikret Amirov’s “Sevil” opera has been held in 1953. The lyric-psychological opera in 4 acts has been composed based on well-known Azerbaijani playwright Jafar Jabbarli’s drama with the same name. Tale Eyyubov has composed the libretto in Azerbaijani language.
In 1955 the second, in 1959 the third editions of the opera have been created. The opera has been dedicated to the freedom of Azerbaijani women. The plot of the opera is consist of events happening in Baku in 1918-1919. The 4th act describes the events happening ten years later.
Booklet of Gara Garayev’s “Yeddi gozel” ballet. Gara Garayev has composed “Seven beauties” ballet based on Nizami Ganjavi’s poems and Ismail Hidayetzade, Yuri Slominski, Sabit Rahman’s librettos in 1952. The ballet is consisted of four acts. It was staged by ballet-master Peter Gusev in Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater in the same year.
“Seven beauties” has been created on the motives of “Seven beauties” poem from genius classic poet of Azerbaijani poetry, Nizami Ganjavi’s “Khamsa”.
In 1948 Gara Garayev composed a suite with the same name. It was performed by Azerbaijan Symphonic Orchestra after Uzeyir Hajibeyli with the guidance of maestro Niyazi. The composer was inspired by head director of Azerbaijan Opera and Ballet Theatre, famous actor and director Ismail Hidayetzade with the idea of composing a ballet. The libretto was first created by him and playwright Sabit Rahman. In 1951 music was composed and the work has been discussed at Azerbaijan Composers’ Union. Yet, Hidayetzade could not see the ballet on the stage. He died in November, 1951.
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.