Malek RamA The Handsome Prince
The First Modern Assyrian Musical Play
Music & Orchestration: Ediwn Elieh
Libretto: Hannibal Alkhas
Narration: Yosip Bet-Yosip
Atristic Director: Fred Elieh
Malek Rama is the first modern Assyrian musical composed and orchestrated by Edwin Elieh on a poem from Assyrian Artist and Poet Hannibal Alkhas (1930-2010) with narrations of Assyrian Poet Yosip Bet-Yosip.
Malek Rama poem is late Hannibal Alkhas’s creative adaptation 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 combination that serves as a bridge for both cultures. The Assyrian audience is introduced to western orchestral music with its sophisticated elements. The non-Assyrian listeners are treated to Assyrian folk music, dances, and culture.
This one-act narrative musical has twenty numbers (songs) that carry the storyline with the help of well-thought-out narrations written and performed by Yosip Bet-Yosip. The numbers are dialogues between the characters with complementary music reflecting the emotions and playset.
The creation of this piece took more than one year of constant writing and collaborations and resulted in more than 400 pages of music scores and one hour of musical play.
The Handsome Prince (Malek Rama Lakhouma) musical play was performed in the Mesopotamian Night fundraising concert for Assyrian Aid Society of America. The performance took place at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts in 2012.
Production and Artistic Director: Fred Elieh, Stage Designer: Rosika Babakhanian, Design Assistant: Shemiram Moghadasi, Production Assistant: Ninwa Tatavossian, Production Assistant: Fredrika Giv, Libretto Consultant: Marcel Josephson, Orchestra Conductor: John Kendal Bailey, Executive Director: Tony Khoshaba, Mesopotamian Night volunteers, members, and sponsors.
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:(Sailor), Dany Eliya: (Sailor), Ozhen Minashy: (Sailor), Ozhen Arsenous: (Sailor), Hannibal Menashy: (Sailor), Joseph Davud: (Sailor), Charles Pakbaz: (Sailor)
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 to weave in their poor cabin. The first one wished to become a queen and weave a tie so that every woman and her husband can use it to hold up their pants, The second sister wished to become a queen and cook a noodle dish that everyone admires the wonderful taste of it, and the third one wished to give birth to a warrior to become a great king.
It so happens that the king was passing by their cabin 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 and her mother-in-law. They re-wrote the message stating that the newborn was a monster. At first, the king got disappointed and wanted to have the newborn’s life terminated but he soon changed his mind and sent a message asking the newborn to be saved until the 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. Upon beaching at the island, in search of 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. The islanders ask him to become their prince. He often would see commercial ships passing near his island. He would ask the sailors to anchor and host them very generously. Many of these ships were coming from his father's island and sailors would tell him about their adventures.
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 the 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.
To prevent the king from traveling to the island and meeting his son, the envious two aunts and the grandmother, each time would undervalue the developments on prince's 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.
Upon returning to his island, the prince would ask the dove to create the miraculous thing that conspirators were describing to the king so when the sailors visit, they would see that this magical element actually exists in the prince's island; this may convince the king to visit him.
This cycle of events happens three times and at last, the king decides to visit the prince where he also comes face-to-face with his wife and the entire plot is revealed.