BEHZAD ABDI (b.1973): Rumi.
Catalogue Number: 09U069
Description: This, claimed by the composer to be "the first national opera of Iran", is an odd, but original and appealing, stylistic hybrid. It is based on aspects of the life and philosophical writings and poetry of the great Sufi mystic and poet Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī. The librettist uses extracts from the poetry of Rūmī and his mentor Shams al-Din Tabrizi as the basis for a series of tableaux that present the exposition of their ideas. Abdi uses traditional dastgāh - modal patterns - as the basis for much of the music, most notably the vocal lines, which moreover are sung with the vocal style and ornamentation of middle-Eastern Arabic and Persian music, making this aspect of the opera the most distinct from the Western operatic style. (If you don't listen to a lot of ethnic music, think of the Muslim Call to Prayer as an example of this kind of vocal technique.) Consequently, scenes such as the dialogues between Rūmī and Shams are among the most distinctive and beautiful aspects of the piece. The composer also makes use of Western compositional techniques, and the orchestral part is tonal-modal and neo-romantic, with echoes of Impressionism and New Spirituality, and sometimes veering into film music territory as in the opening historical scene-setting depiction of the Mongols' attacks on Persia. So the work is thoroughly approachable despite its generous flavor of unfamiliar spices, much like Subramaniam's treatment of South Indian music last month (08U054). 2 CDs. Libretto and translation available online. Homayoun Shajarian, Mohammad Motamedi, Hossein Alishapour (tenors), Mohammadreza Sadeghi (baritone), Maliheh Moradi (mezzo), Credo Chamber Choir, National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine; Vladimir Sirenko.