From the talk of the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev with the collective of the theatre after the performance of the opera "Sevil" by Fikret Amirov - Azerbaijani National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet, November 15, 1998

Good evening!

I congratulate you all, men of culture and art, the collective of the Opera and Ballet Theatre, all who have prepared the new play of the opera "Sevil". I wish you good health and new successes in your careers. The present staging of this opera in a new style is a very remarkable event. The opera "Sevil" has not been on stage for a long time. It is a valuable masterpiece, great contribution to the Azerbaijani music and opera art. Therefore, its performance on our stage is a significant event not only in the cultural life of Azerbaijan, but also in its public life. I watched the opera with great pleasure, now I am very impressed. When "Sevil" was composed 45 years ago, I took part at its premiere. I had personal relations and friendship with late Fikrat Amirov. While he was working on this opera, I was told about it. The public became aware of "Sevil" at the beginning of the 50s. Therefore, everybody was looking forward to see it on stage and thinking how it would be played. Because the plot of "Sevil" is not new. As a play it was created by Jafar Jabbarli. I can say that Jabbarli`s "Sevil" has played an important role in the public and political life of Azerbaijan. Jafar Jabbarli has written much about ehe freedom and morals of women. Each of his plays has great significance like "Sevil". However, it played an important role in the ongoing processes, in the emancipation of women in Azerbaijan in the 1920-1930s. They say that then women came to Taghiyev`s theatre only in veil. You have shown this on stage. The play was so impressive that after watching the play then the women took veils not fearing of anyone. A lot has been written in our press and books about it. Thus, I was aware of "Sevil". I watched "Sevil" many times in the 30s. I have great impressions. However, in general we could not imagine "Sevil" in the forn of an opera. Because the plots of operas in general derived from legends. For example, "Leyli and Majnun", "Asli and Karam", "Shahsenem", "Ashig Garib", "Shah Ismail", "Koroglu", etc. Therefore, I could not imagine an opera about a contemporary life. I remember that the audience sincerely greeted Fikrat Amirov and the players in the premiere. It was Rashid Behbudov`s first entry in opera. He was a variety performer. Everybody wondered how a variety performer would play in opera. But he played very well. Firangiz Ahmadova was known as an opera actress then. She also performed very well. So did the others. Since I watched the premiere, 45 years have passed. It is said that "Sevil" has not been on the stage for 20 years. You played it very well. I still remember the play that I watched 45 years ago. You have done a big job contributing to our public life and culture. I congratulate you and thank you all. Everybody has done his job very well. So has the director. I was told that the general musical director of the play is Farhad Badelbeyli. There are some changes in the opera. It has been modernized. It is a big work, too. The decorations are also nice. We were looking forward to such decorations at theatre for a long time. The decorations are nice. The painter has done a good job. Of course, the main thing in opera is music. The orchestra performed very well. So did the conductor. Xuraman Gasimova was amazing as always.

Xuraman Gasimova: Thank you, Mr. President.

Heydar Aliyev: It is not the first entry of Xuraman khanum in opera. She performed many roles on high level. Today she performed a new part.

Xuraman Gasimova: Mr. President, I am glad that you watched my performance in this play for the second time. I would like to remind you that it was staged 17 years ago. Later it was removed from our repertoire because of some reasons. I am very satisfied that my colleagues did their best to stage this opera again. Therefore, I thank Conductor Javanshir Jafarov and musical director Farhad Badelbeyli. I performed Sevil and Dilbar 17 years ago. Sevil was also played by Fidan khanum, Gulush by Valide Pashayeva. It was 17 years ago. I am very happy that the play is staged again in a new edition.

Heydar Aliyev: You are right. But I remember better the opera "Sevil" which was staged 45 years ago. I remember the performance that you reminded, too. Since a lot has happened in our republic. The Opera Theatre did not work for a while. Now our culture is developing. During the break I talked to the representatives of the companies sponsoring our opera and culture. I thanked them for their support. I asked Polad Bulbuloglu if our men of culture, singers, musicians know about the companies operating in Azerbaijan. Our country and its economy profits from them. Our people will feel their profit better in few years. The companies operating in oil production in our country also sponsor our culture; they supported you in staging this opera. It is a big job to pass that hard period, keeping our culture alive and perform "Sevil" today. Azer Zeynalov performed Balash very well. It must be his first performance as Balash.

Azer Zeynalov: Yes, Mr. President, it is.

Heydar Aliyev: I remember Rashid Behbudov, later Lutfiyar Imanov playing in this opera.

Xuraman Gasimova: Then Fidan khanum played Sevil, I did - Dilbar.

Heydar Aliyev: I see that a new generation of performers and musicians are on. Azer Zeynalov is performing better day by day. I highly appreciate it. Dilbar was played very well. It is an interesting character. Every character has specific features. To understand those features is a big success for the performer. It requires great skill to show positive or negative features of athe character. Dilbar was played well. So were the others. I thank and congratulate you all.

Xuraman Gasimova: Let us congratulate this kid, too.

Polad Bulbuloglu: Ismayil, who performed Gunduz, is Azer Zeynalov`s son.

Heydar Aliyev: Is it your son? He performed with no fear, as if he is a real actor.

Farhad Badelbeyli: But he is not paid a fee.

Heydar Aliyev: He will when he is grown up. I congratulate. The opera "Sevil" is one of the masterpieces of the Azerbaijani opera.

I do not want to compare, since I am not a musical expert. But I think that the opera "Sevil" is the peak of Fikrat Amirov`s art. Because the opera is based on the theme from our contemporary life and our national music. Fikrat Amirov has passed away. May he rest in peace. While the time is passing, we can clearly see the merits of such people. Perhaps a person is not evaluated or understood, while he is alive. However, I was friend with Fikrat Amirov before I came to power in 1969. Our friendship dates back to 1953, when I took part in his premiere and congratulated him. Then I morally supported him. He told me about his thoughts, problems. When I started to lead the republic, I always cared for our culture. Thanks to this care, he created the symphony "Nizami", the ballet "One thousand and one nights". He has a great talent and potential. But he needed help to realize that potentials. I helped him then. He really left his trace in the art, culture and music of Azerbaijan. Thus, I remember him. His play staged 45 years ago is still on. You keep this opera alive. I congratulate and thank you.