Ashoura Opera

Ashura Opera was composed by Behzad Abdi, the Iranian composer, in 2008 based on librettos compiled by Behrouz Gharib. The main source for the libretto is poems by Mohtasham Kashani, a sixteenth century Iranian poet.

In the Iranian culture, the first ten days of Muharram (the first month of the Hijri calendar) marks the anniversary of the martyrdom of the third Shia Imam, Imam Hossein, and is observed by mourning ceremonies all through the country.

This year, the Vahdat Hall in Tehran, experienced its first musical performance during the first ten days of Muharram at least in the past three decades after the Islamic Revolution of the 1979 as the Roudaki Foundation decided to have the opera on stage in the form of a concertante for five nights. Nassir Heidarian, the Austrian-based Iranian conductor, was invited to as the guest conductor to lead Tehran Symphony Orchestra for this unique performance at such a special time of the year.

The composition is the first Iranian national opera. Behzad Abdi explains that Iranian Opera should not be compared to the Wagnerian and Italian Opera as they stem from different cultural backgrounds. In a brief article published in the Farsi Etemaad Newspaper, in January 2013, Abdi states that in the Iranian opera, the singing (avaaz) plays a crucial role as the protagonists sing in the Iranian style (avaaz) and the antagonists draw on the recitative in creating their roles.

In a series of articles entitled “A Review of Ashura Opera” by Sadjad Pourghanad which was published on the Farsi HarmonyTalk Journal, the critic argues that Behrouz Gharibpour has carried out a great job in structuring his opera based on traditions practiced in the Iranian Ta’zieh which is considered a genuinely Iranian art also well-known for preserving the dastgah frame work of the classical Iranian music.

The Opera is originally a marionette, designed and directed by Behrouz Gharibpour, and enjoyed many performances worldwide and was very well received by its audience.

The work is recorded by the Ukraine National Orchestra under the baton of Vladimir Sirenko in Ukraine.

The Opera is written in the following acts:

Part 1: Prelude
Part 2: Yazeed’s Court
Part 3: Angels
Part 4: Shimr’s Residence
Part 5: Farewell
Part 6: Horr
Part 7: Ibn Zyad’s Court
Part 8: Horr’s Martyrdom
Part 9: Festivity at Ibn Zyad’s Court
Part 10: Final


Behrouz Gharibpour, born in 1957, is a writer, cinema and theatre director and a master of marionette opera. He is very prolific and has directed 6 marionette operas so far. Ashoura Marionette Opera is Gharibpour’s first experience as librettist.

Behzad Abdi, born in 1973, is a composer and an actor. He studied the basic music theory with Maestro Masoud Sha’ari (Masoud Shaari) and Maestro Farhad Fakhreddini. He gained his Masters in composing from Kotlyarevsky University of Arts in Ukraine and studied with Maestros such as Vadim Jurzvitsjyi, Liudmila Yurina, Vladimir Zolotukhin, ‏Lev Kolodub. Behzad Abdi’s recorded symphonic works exceed those of any other Iranian composer. He has been awarded the Crystal Simorgh of Fajr Film Festival for the best score several times.

Nassir Heidarian, born in 1957, studied trumpet and trombone in the Higher Conservatory of Music in Tehran. Having graduated from the Conservatory, he started working at Tehran Symphony Orchestra. He then furthered his musical education in trombone and conducting in University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. Teaching at University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, as well as conducting several operas in Graz Opera are among his achievements.


Singers:
Ali Yaripour (Mohtasham), Mahdi Javar (Yazid), Soheyl Matin (Shemr), Ramin Bahiraie (jebreil), Hanieh Gholibeykian (Shemr’s Wife), Kimia Khanzadi (Sakineh), Razan Tirna (Roghaieh), Hadi Feyzabadi (emam Hosein), Alireza Mahdizadeh (Hor), Mahdi Emami (Abas), Sadjad Pourghanad (Omar), Mohamad Vaziri (Mosab), Amer Shadman (Ziad)

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Farshad Sanjari, Forgotten Iranian Conductor Met His Tragic End

Farshad Sanjari, one of the most renowned Iranian conductors in the 1970s in Iran died after fire broke in his apartment in Vienna on November 22, 2019. Farshad Sanjari was not involved in politics; however, he was one of the victims of the Iranian Islamic Revolution in 1979. After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, his name was never seen as the conductor of any programmes.

Gholam Reza Khan Minbashian: a pioneer in Iranian music (II)

Gholamreza Khan Minbashian taught courses such as organology, orchestration of military music and harmony based on the books which were translated from French into Persian with the help of Aliakbar Mozayyan-o-Dolleh (1846-1932).

From Past Days…

Principles of Playing Violin (V)

3/1/2/5: When the first finger lands next to the nut, continuation of first phalange of this finger, on back of the hand, should be in line with continuation of the back of the wrist and the left hand; moreover, it should not pass them and bend at knuckles. Otherwise, an uncommon stretch is created in first finger’s knuckle also reducing the freedom of other fingers (especially the fourth finger) in finger placement.

Iranian Contradictions: Iranian Chords

Finding a way to harmonize the Iranian music has been the subject of controversy among Iranian musicians for a long time. Some believe in the creation of harmonies for Iranian music based on a method which is similar to the tierce harmony; while others have either selected or invented some other methods. There are also some musicians who do not basically agree with the harmonization of the Iranian music.

Principles of Violin Playing (VIII)

1.5.1.3.sometimes, a player, due to different reasons, may decisively want to play continuously two notes with a half-step by means of the same finger, in such a case, it’s necessary to open the interior curve of the finger like a spring. Naturally coming back, the curve of finger should be closed and the finger should become curved shape again (see paragraph 3.1.2.1).

The 4th Iranian Festival of Music Websites and Weblogs

The 4th Iranian Festival of Music Websites and Weblogs was held in Niavaran Cultural Center, in Tehran, Iran on Feb. 28th, 2015. The initiator of the festival was Sajjad Pourghanad, Iranian music writer, researcher, founder of the festival and Persian setar and tar player.

Principles of Violin Playing (VII)

4.3.1.3 Regarding the great linear distance and the unusual distance between the first and forth fingers, the first finger while playing the doubles of ninth and tenth interval, can be twisted in the knuckle area and the point mentioned in 3.1.2.5 paragraph in relation to the way first finger is placed indicating that the first joint of this finger in back of hand must be in line with the direction of forearm and left hand is not true here.

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Gholam Reza Khan Minbashian, a.k.a Salar-Mo’azez, was a pioneer in several domains in the history of the Iranian music. He is recognized as the first Iranian musician who was educated in classical music. He is also the first Iranian the score of whose works were published in Europe. He is the first Iranian to have launched courses on Western classical music and was also the first Iranian teacher of classical music. Moreover, he is the first founder of a string orchestra in Iran, the first author of the Iranian Radif which was available in oral form. Minbashian is also the first Iranian who studied music in Europe.

Harmony in the Iranian Music (II)

One of his works was the translation of Harmony, which was carried out with the help of Mozayyan al-Dowleh, and included a pamphlet based on which he used to teach the subject to the students of the school of music; the pamphlet was never published. It was, in fact, a kind of simple harmony for the piano with no quadriads, it rather featured the engagement of both the right hand and the left hand which was being taught at the music school for the first time. Salar-Mo’azez also composed military marches and hymns for schools, which he harmonized to be performed and piano. Likewise, he used to compose for military orchestras.

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Behzad Abdi’s opera Rumi was physically released by Naxos

Composing a traditional Iranian opera using the Iranian modal system, dastgāh, has always been my dream. I first approached this by composing an opera called Ashura followed by the operas Rumi and Hafez. I believe that in order to attract an international audience for Iranian opera, it is essential to fuse dastgāh with Western classical forms.

Gholam Reza Khan Minbashian: a pioneer in Iranian music (II)

Gholamreza Khan Minbashian taught courses such as organology, orchestration of military music and harmony based on the books which were translated from French into Persian with the help of Aliakbar Mozayyan-o-Dolleh (1846-1932).