Layla and Majnun is a classic story of love well-known across many Middle-Eastern and sub-continental cultures and most notably expressed by the great Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi. In 1908, the tragic lovers’ tale became the subject of the first Middle Eastern opera, written by Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli, who interspersed symphonic and choral sections with mugham—a Central-Asian style of improvised singing—and created a masterpiece of Azerbaijani culture. Silk Road Ensemble’s new arrangement of Hajibeyli’s work, joined with Morris’ choreography, brings together on stage instrumentalists from Asian and western traditions; the revered singer Alim Qasimov (a Living National Treasure of Azerbaijan) and his daughter and protégée, Fargana Qasimova; and 16 dancers of the Mark Morris Dance Group, here at MMDG’s Midwest home. Silk Road Ensemble founder Yo-Yo Ma states, “Morris’ deep respect for and knowledge of traditions in both music and dance—he never plays tourist but is an artist, so that any tradition Mark incorporates becomes organic to his work—as well as his extensive experience directing epic love stories . . . make him the only choice to re-imagine Layla and Majnun for a 21st-century audience.”
This performance will last approximately 70 minutes with no intermission. Please note that there will be no late seating. Yo-Yo Ma will not be performing with the Silk Road Ensemble.