Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre
Azerbaijan opera culture was founded in 1908 and marked by the premiere of the first opera in the East and in the whole muslim world– “Leyli and Madjnun” that was written great Azerbaijan composer Uzeyir Hadjibeyli. First performance of the opera took place at the H.Z.Taghiyev Theatre on 12 January (25 January) in 1908. The State Opera Theatre was built by the famous russian architect and civil engineer N.Bayev. On 18th of October in 1918 Azerbaijan Democratic Republic gave the offical status and it became known as the Azerbaijan State Opera and Ballet Theatre. In 1959 it received the status of an academic theatre. Now days Azerbaijan State Opera and Ballet Theatre is the one of the leading cultural institutions. It’s wide range repertoire consists of the national and classical opera and ballet productions.There are four sections in the theatre – opera team, symphony orchestra, ballet company and choir. Since it’s opening the State Opera Theatre had played leading role in the cultural life of the country. As the only opera and ballet company in Azerbaijan it has formed and set up all the best traditions in this genre. During the different years and periods great artists such as Fyodor Shalyapin, Leonid Sobinov, Valeriya Barsova, Irina Arkhipova, Elena Obraztsova, Mara Bieshu, Maya Plisestkaya, Montserrat Caballe , Jose Carreras, Zurab Sotkilava, Vyatcheslav Gordeev, Vladislav Piavko, Svetlana Zakharova, Anastasia Volotckova took part in the opera and ballet productions on the stage of the Azerbaijan State Opera Theatre. Below there are names of some great Azerbaijan composers, conductors, singers and artists who played significant role in the history of the theatre.
Uzeyir Hacıbeyli (1885-1948)
Great Azerbaijan composer, professor, “National Artist of USSR”, Laureat of USSR State Prize, founder of the Azerbaijan classical music and Azerbaijan musical theatre. He’s author of the various operas, by the way, 6 of them, including “Leyli and Madjnun” (1908) based on the traditional Azerbaijan music – “mugham”, the last one and the climax of his creative activity is “Keroglu” (1937). There are also musical comedies, operetta “Arshin mal alan” (Cloth Peddler) (1913), cantatas, compositions for the orchestra and choir, instrumental-chamber pieces, romances, songs and etc.
Outstanding composer Muslum Magomayev was Uzeyir Hacıbeyli’s closest friend and companion. His musical activity was very productive and remarkable. He had played very important role in the history of the theatre as the general manager and principal conductor. He was one of the creators of some national musical genres in Azerbaijan.
In his historical legend opera “ Shak Ismayil” (King Ismayil/1919) Muslim Magimayev expanded the best opera traditions and creative principles that invented by Uzeyir Hadjibeyli in his mugam-opera “Leyli and Madjnun”. Besides the “King Ismayil” he wrote the opera “ Nargiz” (1938) that based on the revolutionary tale. Among other pieces we can notice his orchestra pieces, several songs and music written to the theatrical pieces.
Great Azerbaijan singer (lyrical tenor), professor, “People artist of USSR”, laureat of the State Prize of USSR, founder of the Azerbaijan professional singing school. He had important impact on the history of the Azerbaijan music culture. Bulbul had invented new singing school that based on the mix of the local national music performing style and western opera vocal traditions. His vocal school had significant influence to the musical culture of the whole Middle East.
Bulbul was first performer almost all of the main male characters – heroes in the operas of the Azerbaijan composers in the first part of the XX century. There is no doubt that his performance of the part of “Keroglu” (Son of the blind man) in the opera by Uz.Hadjibeyli is Bulbul’s best role.
Distinguished Azerbaijan conductor, composer, “People artist of USSR”, laureat of J.Nehru International Prize, professor. He started his carriere as the conductor at the Azerbaijan State Opera Theatre in 1937, then he became Artistic director and Principal conductor (1951-1951 and 1958-1959) and general manager of the theatre (1961-1965). He was a conductor who made first performance and led premieres of the best orchestral and opera pieces written by the Azerbaijan composers. He was among the best interpreters of the classical opera and ballet repertoire.
Great composer, professor, “People artist of USSR” , laureat of the USSR and Azerbaijan State Prizes. His musical legacy now in the repertoire of the world’s leading theatres, conductors, singers and instrumentalists. He is an author of the two ballets – “Seven beauties” and “Path of Thunder”, 3 symphonies, concerto for violin and orchestra, symphonic tone poems, several chamber and vocal pieces, theatrical and movie music.
Fikrat Amirov (1922-1984)
Great composer, professor, “People artist of USSR” , laureat of the USSR and Azerbaijan State Prizes. He’s an author of the some theatrical pieces such as – opera “Sevil”, ballet “ 1000 and one night”, “Nizami”, “Nasimi”, instrumental-camera pieces in the different genres, romances and vocal cycles. Fikret Amirov is creator of the new genre in Azerbaijan music – symphonic mugham.