Los Angeles has hosted the premiere of Arshin mal alan (The Cloth Peddler), a world-known operetta by great Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli.
The operetta was performed by an all American team and produced by famous director Michael Schnack. Actors had diligent rehearsals for several months. They said the toughest thing to do was to learn to sing in Azerbaijani.
James Judd, who played the musical comedy`s main character, Asgar, said it took them a long time to learn the words of arias.
Asha Lindsey, who played Gulchohra, said she learned a lot about Azerbaijan`s history and culture, as well as Islam when she played in Arhshin mal alan for the first time seven years ago. “I have many Azerbaijani friends. I can tell much about this unique country. I know very well what my character wants. If Gulchohra lived now, she would have been very brave,” Lindsey added.
Michael Schnack said the Americans have a different approach to tradition, especially in an artistic sense. “Younger generations in America are open to changes. One of the reasons why Azerbaijan is of such interest to Americans is that the West was once strongly influencing this country.”
Hundred years ago helped by oil tycoon and philanthropist Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev, Uzeyir Hajibeyli presented his brainchild to the world. Symbolically, hundred years later this masterpiece of Hajibeyli is staged in the USA with the support from the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCA), a major actor on the global energy market. The Consulate General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism greatly contributed to organizing the event.
It was Los Angeles where in 1937 Armenians attempted to plagiarize this masterpiece by great Hajibeyli.
Azerbaijan`s Consul General Nasimi Aghayev said California is home to 1.5 million Armenians, with most of them living in Los Angeles. “The Armenian lobby is carrying out active propaganda against us. In order to prevent this we must make the truths about Azerbaijan known to the American society, and we are doing this. And the best way to do this is to promote Azerbaijan`s reach cultural legacy,” said the Consul General.
The musical comedy was played to a full house at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, one of the premier opera houses of the world also famous for hosting Oscar Awards ceremonies in 1970-90s. An audience of 3,000 people enjoyed this comic and romantic story of love full of songs and humor for about two hours. The performance received a standing ovation.
Following the performance the guests who came to watch it were exchanging their impressions. Some said they enjoyed the music, while others were amazed by the setting and the national costumes.
Kalma Blumber, a Los Angeles resident, said: “It`s fantastic. Amazing music, unique costumes, a very impressive story. I`ve discovered much about Azerbaijan, its history. It`s a sensation.”
Austrian Consul in Los Angeles Liliana Popova said: “Great, breathtaking music. My brother is a pianist. He worked with a symphonic orchestra in Baku, and I have many recollections of that time. And I`m very happy today. I`m really amazed by today`s performance.”
Jim Kerkman, a Los Angeles resident, said: “It`s a remarkable event that opens the door for us to the beautiful East in a true sense of the word.”
The Cloth Peddler conquered Los Angeles, which is considered the movie capital of the world and is home to Hollywood. But to amaze Hollywood is no easy task.