Opera in North Cyprus
One thing that's definitely in short supply here in North Cyprus is opera, so I'm thrilled that no less than 21 opera stars are performing in Kyrenia on September 14th.
However, chances are, I won't have heard of many of them by name, as the singers come from Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Northern Cyprus, Bashkor-tostan and Tatarstan.
The singers will first perform in Mersin on September 11, in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Azerbaijani National Opera’s first performance of “Leyli and Mejnun", by the Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov. Based on the classic Arabic love story, "Leyla ile Mecnun" was hailed as the first Middle Eastern opera at its premiere in 1908.
The story tells how the real-life Bedouin poet Qays ibn al-Mulawwah ibn Muzahim fell in love with Layla Al-Aamiriya, but her father refused to let them marry. When she married another man, he fled into the desert and lost his mind, writing poetry on the rocks and in the sand. Qays became known as "Majnu Layla", meaning 'the one driven mad by Layla'.
If a Turkish person says they "feel like Layla", it means they are in a complete daze, like one head over heels in love.
If you think the name Layla sounds familiar, her name apparently inspired the Derek and the Dominos 1970 album "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs". The song "I Am Yours" contains a direct quote from a passage in the Persian poet Nezami's version of the "Layla and Majnun". Who said pop was dumbing down?!