Art And Culture

Behzad Abdi’s Rumi Opera in 2 CDs

Behzad Abdi’s Rumi Opera in 2 CDs
Behzad Abdi’s Rumi Opera in 2 CDs

Rumi opera, composed by Behzad Abdi, was released on August 10 by Naxos Records, one of the leading classical music labels with offices across the world.

Abdi’s opera comes in two CDs and fuses western classical music, the Sufi ceremony of Sama and traditional dastgah or the Iranian musical modal system, according to

Libretto (text) of the opera was conceived and written by the renowned Iranian theater director and puppeteer Behrouz Gharibpour, based on the life and writings of the 13th century Persian scholar, poet, theologian and mystic Jalal al-Din Rumi.  

The opera has two acts and each is in one CD. Act 1 includes seven scenes and Act 2 has eight. The total playing time of the two acts is 104 minutes.

  Story of Shams and Rumi

Episodes from the legendary story of Shams and Rumi are included in both acts. Shams was an enigmatic mystic from the city of Tabriz. Rumi’s life took a turn after an encounter with Shams. Theirs is one of the most significant tales in the history of Iranian mystical literature which is brought vividly to life by Abdi’s exotic, lyrical and, at times, deeply dramatic compositions.

Iranian traditional tenor vocalist and ney player Mohammad Motamedi sings in Rumi’s role, while traditional singer and player of tonbak and kamancheh Homayoun Shajarian, also a tenor, gives voice to Shams.

Rumi’s poems were inspired by the works of Persian poet, pharmacist and hagiographer Attar of Nishabur (1145-1221). A story of Attar, whose role is sung by Ali Khodaee, is in scene 3 of Act 1, titled “Sheikh Attar Prefers Death Over Humiliation.”

Other vocalists in the opera are Hossein Alishapour (tenor) as Soltan al-Olama, Maliheh Moradi (mezzo-soprano) as Rumi’s wife, Es’haq Anvar (baritone) as an old follower of Rumi, Mostafa Mahmoudi (tenor) a shepherd, Mehdi Javar (bass) a soldier, Sajjad Pourqanad (tenor) a Mongol, Amer Shadman (bass)  commander, Ehsan Nassiri (baritone) is a Kharazm Prince and Mehdi Emami (baritone) narrator.

Kayvan Farzin, Ali Najafi, Solmaz Badri, Ali Yari, Reza Najafi and Sara Rezazadeh make up the group who sings in the role of the people in background. Instrumental performance is by Ukrainian musicians: Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra and Credo Chamber Choir conducted by Vladimir Sirenko, the artistic director and chief conductor of the orchestra since 1999. Their performance was recorded in 2009 at the studio of Dom Zvukozapisi (House of Recording) in Kiev.

“The idea of this project was initially proposed by Behrouz Gharibpour. Then, he went on to write a precise and impressive libretto about Rumi’s life to piece together the narrative and music,” Abdi said.

Behzad Abdi, 45, is based in Kiev. He studied setar and Iranian traditional music with composer and setar virtuoso Masoud Sho’ari and composer, music researcher, theoretician and player of tar and setar Mohsen Nafar. He learnt western classical music with pianist Ludmila Yurina and Vadim Juravitsky at the Tchaikovsky Academy in Ukraine. Abdi is a composer of film soundtracks and has won two awards at the Fajr International Film Festival.


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