Libretto and Music
Malek Rama poem is late Hannibal Alkhas’s creative adaption of an 1831 poem by Alexander Pushkin known as “The Tale Of Tsar Saltan”. Hannibal transforms this folk Russian fairy tale into an Assyrian masterpiece by tastefully inducing the Assyrian culture with his choice of words. This poem is included in “Selected Works of Poetry by Hannibal Alkhas“. This book was edited and published by Marcel Josephson in 2010.
In Malek Rama music, Edwin combines Assyrian folk music with modern western orchestral music to create a unique music that serves as a bridge for both cultures. Assyrian audience is introduced to western orchestral music with its sophisticated elements and Non-Assyrian listeners are in a treat to get familiar with Assyrian folk music, dances and culture.
This one-act narrative musical has twenty numbers (songs) that carry the storyline with the help of a well-thought-out narrations that are written and performed by Yosip Bet-Yosip. The numbers are mostly the dialogue between the characters and music reflects the emotions and scenery during the play. Creation of the music was more than one year constant writing and collaborations that resulted in more than 400 pages of scores and one hour of musical play.
The Handsome Prince (Malek Rama Lakhouma) musical play was performed in Mesopotamian Night found raising concert for Assyrian Aid Society of America. The performance took place at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts in 2012.
Cast and production members:
Yosip Bet-Yosip: Narrator, Fred Elieh: Malek Rama (Handsome Prince), Shamina Khangaldy: Yona (Dove), Ramin Ekhtiar: Malek Slidta (King),Carmen David: Malikta (Queen), Beneta Rameshk: Bashlanta (The Cook), Larsa Yadegary: Gadlanta (The Weaver), Betti Aiwaz: Nanareekha (Grandmother), Neneveh Oksar: Backup Singer, John Khangaldy: Ilpaaraa (Sailor), Perter Ibrahim: Ilpaaraa (Sailor), Dany Eliya: Ilpaaraa (Sailor), Ozhen Minashy: Ilpaaraa (Sailor), Ozhen Arsenous: Ilpaaraa (Sailor), Hannibal Menashy: Ilpaaraa (Sailor), Joseph Davud: Ilpaaraa (Sailor), Charles Pakbaz: Ilpaaraa (Sailor), Production and Artistic Director: Fred Elieh, Stage Designer: Rosika Babakhanian, Design Assistant: Shemiram Moghadasi, Production Assistant: Ninwa Tatavossian, Production Assistant: Fredrika Giv, Poem Consultant: Marcel Josephson, Orchestra Conductor: John Kendal Bailey, Executive Director: Tony Khoshaba and all Mesopotamian Night volunteers, members and sponsors.
This tale is about envy, wicked thinking, conspiracy, deception, viciousness, and finally the triumph of good over evil. It is the tale of three unfortunate sisters sitting down for weaving in their poor cabin; one wishing to become a queen to weave a tie for pants that every woman and her husband can use to wrap their pants, one wishing to become a queen to cook a noodle dish that whoever ate from it would admire the good taste of it, and the third wishing to give birth to a warrior to become a king.
It so happens that the king was passing by and overhears the conversation of three sisters. He marries the third sister and hires the other two to do the weaving and the cooking in the palace. King was at war and had to leave right after the marriage ceremony. It comes the time that his wife gives birth to a healthy boy. She sends a message to her husband to share the good news but the message was intercepted by her two sisters ad her mother-in-law. They re-wrote the message stating that the newborn was a monster. First he got disappointed and wanted to have the newborn’s life terminated but he soon changed his mind and sent a message asking newborn to be saved until king’s return. The conspirators intoxicated the messenger and changed the content of the king’s message to read “get rid of the newborn and the mother; leave them to the sea”.
The newborn and mother were put in a basket and left afloat on the sea. The basket finally beaches at an island where the boy has grown into a young man. The islanders ask him to become their prince. Upon beaching at the island, in search for food in the woods, he rescues a pigeon that was just about to be killed by an eagle. To return the favor, the pigeon would grant him any wish he asked for. Many ships originally from the land where his father ruled would pass by his island and he would ask the sailors to anchor and he would host them very generously.
Upon their sail away he would feel homesick missing his father. Each time the pigeon would convert him to an insect so that he could travel unnoticed with sailors to his father’s land to see him. Each time the sailors would report to king how greatly they were treated by the prince of the neighboring island. They would also describe the magnificent developments they would witness on the island and would notify the king that the prince has extended an invitation to the king to visit the island.
The envious two aunts and the grandmother, each time would undervalue the developments on the island by saying that they have heard of something even more miraculous in other lands. The prince as an insect would sting one of the three envious conspirators each time. The sailors of the next ship would describe the actual occurrence of what conspirators had mentioned they had heard. And each time another conspirator would get stung. At last, the king decides to visit the prince where he comes face-to-face with his wife and the entire plot is revealed.
Marcel Josephson,“Selected Works of Poetry by Hannibal Alkhas”