Friday, April 01, 2016

Fes Festival Preview #1 - Opening Night

Over the next couple of weeks The View From Fez will preview some of the highlights of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music. Today we take a look at the opening night spectacular

Opening night of the 22nd Fes Festival is an international premiere of A Night Full of Stars in which the women of the Orient lead us on a journey of discovery into the history of Morocco and the myths of the East. The production concept and direction is by Alain Weber, with Christophe Olivier, assisted by Gaël Boucault, lighting, and the spectacular stage mapping by Allumeurs d’images. Direction, composition and orchestral arrangements: Ramzi Aburedwan. Sound is by Fes Festival regulars; Chris Ekers and Erik Loots.

The tale is a dream-like journey into the world of wise, mystical and enchanting women. Against a backdrop of stars, Sheherazade, played by Moroccan actress Nadia Kounda, takes the audience on her journey to change the heart of the vindictive King Chahryâr and, by doing so, save the women of his kingdom.

Nadia Kounda plays Sheherazade

Sheherazade is a bold, resolute and cultivated woman who has mastered the knowledge of her time: history, literature, poetry and politics. To save the women of the kingdom, she risks her own life by joining the harem of King Chahryâr, a damaged man who has become vindictive. Sheherazade’s tears are her promise: with magical effect, she hopes to win over the King’s heart by the end of these nights. At the beginning, she tells the stories to her young sister Dunyâzad as a diversion. Played by a young Moroccan student Dikra Al Kalaï, Dunyâzad is initiated into the recitation of all these legendary women whose "light shines like a thousand stars".

Dikra Al Kalaï plays Dunyâzad 

Mystical poets from the Indian Mira Baï to the Iraqi Rabi’a al Adawiyya al Qaysiyya, and the pre-Islamic Bedouin, Al Hansa; mythical wise women such as Balqis, Queen of Sheba who confronts King Solomon with her wisdom, as well as the slave Tawaddud Al-Jâriya, illustrated by the giant African puppets, who challenged the sages in the court of Haroun Al-Rashid – all of these lead us on a voyage through poetry, song and dance, highlighting the idea of knowledge and understanding as symbolised by Oum El Banine (also known as Fatima El Fihriya) who founded the Karaouine Mosque and University in Fes.

Mamas - Giant African puppets

Rebellious women from old Morocco are here too, those from Tetouan and the Amazigh women of the Atlas, from the times when the veil emerged as an expression of revolt against the occupying forces.

Enhancing the path through A Thousand and One Nights are horsewomen poets from the Mongolian steppes, musicians from the court palaces of Azerbaijan and the voices of Persian Sufis. They all show that reason is the result of piety and faith, as shown in the old stories, reinforcing the idea of feminine wisdom full of grace and inspiration.

horsewomen poets from the Mongolian steppes

The walls of Bab al Makina are transformed by moving images (known as mapping) and become the celestial vault under which Sheherazade captures our imagination with these great women. For each one, a shooting star appears in the sky across the great door of Bab al Makina like a shining spirit, materialising into an exceptional woman. This sparkling light envelops the stage – symbol of light in both a spiritual and intellectual sense, and the opposite of darkness.

This opening night production includes women artists from Morocco, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Ethiopia, India, Lebanon, Italy and Africa perform, accompanied by a large oriental orchestra.


Ingie Women’s Qanun Ensemble 
Ingie Women’s Qanun Ensemble directed by Tarana Aliyeva
With the support of the International Mugham Center of Azerbaijan

Xinjiang Province, China:
Mukkadas Mijit, dance

Zewditou Taddese, voice
Grum Begashaw Tegene, kebero drum
Henok Aria, masinko (single-stringed bowed lute)
Imebiet Tegegne, dance

Les Mamas, giant puppets on stilts
Compagnie Planet Pas Net

Parvathy Baul, voice and ektara (one-stringed lute)

Sahar Mohammadi, voice (photo left)
Mahdi Teimori, ney flute and composition
Milad Mohammandi, tar lute
Hossein Rezaeenia and Zakariya Yousefi, daf drum

Maristella Martella, dance
Cinzia Marzo, voice, tambourine and tammorra tambourine

Abeer Nehme, voice and composition

Ösökhjargal Pürevsüren, khöömii song and tovshuur lute
Khulan Navaandemberel, morin khuur (horsehead fiddle)

Zinab Alfilal, Andalous song from Tetouan
Ensemble Addal, dance of the veils from Tafraout

International premiere - Bab Al Makina - May 6 – 21h00
Book tickets here

The View From Fez is a Fez Festival official Media Partner
The View From Fez thanks Helen Ranger for her translations from the French

See our Fes Festival previews:
Opening Night Preview
Homage to India Preview
Divas of the World Preview
Nights in the Medina 1 Preview
Nights in the Medina 2 Preview
Nights in the Medina 3 Preview
Istanbul to Fez Preview
Tribute to Oum Keltoum Preview
Samira Saïd Preview
Forum Sessions Preview
Sufi Nights & Boujloud Concerts

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