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Molavi Puppet Opera at Tehran's Ferdowsi Theater


By Syma Sayyah, Tehran 

We go to many galleries regularly, see films and on occasions we go to different types of concert from jazz to classical Iranian, but only on very rare occasions do we seem to get to theater performances.

We were delighted when our friend Touraj invited us to go to see Behrouz Gharibpour's puppet opera "Molavi" at Tehran Ferdowsi Theater which is opposite the Vahdat Hall (Roudaki) in center of Tehran.  We were the guests of a young lady, one of the puppeteers, Mona Kiyanifar who had helped with others to make the puppets and their clothing at the workshop headed by Maryam Eghbali and Ali Pakdast, and after the performance she took us back stage and showed us the puppets and introduced us to the writer/director Mr Gharibpour.

Behrouz Gharibpour

I have known him for a long time; he has been a well known name among the performance and visual art supporters since he undertook the Bahman Farhangsar project where he turned a derelict slaughterhouse into an arts center.   He followed this by redeveloping an army barracks as the Artists Forum.   For the past few years he has gone back to the theater and has produced some very successful puppet opera shows including Rostam and Sohrab and Macbeth puppet shows among many other diverse and interesting projects.

We were most impressed with the wonderful music by Behzad Abdi and the first rate operatic singing of Mr Homayoun Shajarian and the Ukraine Choir, the interesting puppets as well as the stage d├ęcor.   The opera is based on the life and experiences of Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī Molavi Rumi, his friendship with Shakh Attar and his friendship and stewardship with one of Iran's greatest men of literature and philosopher ShamsTabrizi whose daughter he marries after his wife dies.

The opera starts with the invasion of the Mongol hordes into Persia and the destruction and suffering that it brings about.  It goes on to tell the story of Molana's meeting with Shams and ends very powerfully with the demise of Shams and Molana's coping with the loss and his soul searching experiences.  I found the last few scenes most touching and exciting and several times during the performance tears came into my eyes. I loved the poetry, the singing, the music and the very high quality sound and visual effects (not once did I feel any discomfort with the sound which was being played).

I highly recommend this wonderful show to everyone who likes poetry, history and performance art or just wishes to see something different and enjoyable.  At the end of the performance all the puppeteers came to the front of the stage, and I was delighted to see that they were almost all young ladies!

The programs are to run until 7th Esfand - 26th February which we truly hope will be extended. They are performing every night except Saturdays.

Tickets may be obtained from Vahdat Hall in Hafez Ave., Ostad Shahriyar Street, Vahdat Art Foundation, Ferdousi Theater
Telephone 66705101-7

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