the Paris Review: Layla and Majnun

The choreographer Mark Morris’s latest work is a rendering of Layla and Majnun, an Azerbaijani opera composed by Uzeyir Hajibeyli in 1908. This fall it launched Cal Performance’s season, premiering at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley on September 30. Layla and Majnun may be the most exotic and obscure score that Morris (who’s renowned for his eclectic musical taste) has ever set a dance to. No doubt many in Baku would take issue with my characterizing it as exotic and obscure: Hajibeyli’s opus was the first piece of composed music created in Azerbaijan and the first opera in the Muslim world, where it’s still considered a foundational work.