started to work in Baku for this comedy
and completed it in summer 1913, in
St. Petersburg, where he lived and prepared
himself to enter the Conservatoire.
story itself was true to life. In early
XX century there aroused a wave of sharp
criticism in Azerbaijan public. It was
a criticism directed against prejudices,
morals and manners caused by Moslem
traditions. Striving for personal freedom
and rights of Moslem women became essential
subject for various discussions.
time a woman had almost no rights: she
should firstly implicitly obey her parents
and then husband. She wore a veil and
was not allowed to appear with open
face at the street. Only individual
Azerbaijan women could read and write.
Eastern woman was a kind of thing at
home. Other people made a decision for
her fortune, and as a rule she could
marry only according to her parents’
will. However young men suffered a lot
for these traditions: in most events,
bridegrooms could see their fiancees
only after the wedding.
the life changed and new generation
of young boys and girls desired building
families basing on mutual love. To see,
to love and only then to marry – it
was a motive for ingenious intrigue
Mal Alan”. The heroine of the comedy
is vigorous and smart beauty Gulchohra.
She personifies an image of new Azerbaijan
woman. And it was not casual that contemporaries
accepted this music comedy as challenge
to passing away laws, as appeal to emancipate
Uzeyir Hajibeyov himself was an author of libretto.
The comedy received its title from that
typical shout that street traders used
to in an old Azerbaijan.
merchant Asker wants to marry. However
he wants to choose himself his helpmate.
Meanwhile Moslem tradition prohibited
seeing the fiancée before the
wedding. Asker’s friend Suleiman suggests
him a cunning action. On his advice
Asker disguises as a poor “arshin malchi”
– scotch draper. So he could enter any
yard and choose his fiancée.
afterwards Asker found an apposite girl
among purchasers. She is Gulchohra,
a daughter of Sultan-bey. She also dreams
to marry by love. Young people feel
mutual sympathy. Gulchohra is full with
resoluteness to strive for her love.
However, Sultan-bey does not want misalliance.
He agrees to give her in marriage with
rich merchant Asker, but faces heavy
opposition from Gulchohra. The latter
does not suspect (as her father himself)
that her lover is Asker. Misunderstanding became clear soon and the
matter completed by the wedding. Three
more couples marry at the same time:
Widower-bey marries Jahan, Asker’s aunt,
inventor Suleiman marries Sultan-bey’s
niece – Asya, and Gulchohra’s housemaid
Telly marries Asker’s servant – jolly
are no negative heroes in the comedy.
According to the laws of classic music
comedy, major heroes – Asker and Gulchohra
come to the fore. Their fortune and
love are essential in the intrigue line.
They decisively stand up for their rights
for love. They are inspired and romantic,
without any prejudices. They are prepared
for anything for love’s sake. The other
couples, Sultan-bey and Jahan, Suleiman
and Asya, Telly and Vely are given as
lyric and comic characters.
and even-tempered Suleiman-bey and Gulchohra’s
cousin Asya dream to be happy, but within
family traditions. Asker’s aunt Jahan
and Gulchohra’s father Sultan-bey are
both representatives of an old world.
They do not even imagine that centuries-old
way of family life could be changed.
However even they aim to family happiness
and cozy home. Sultan-bey says: “What
does one need for the wedding? 3 manats
money, 1 mullah, 1 loafsugar, and that's
at last Vely and Telly They are smart,
jolly, acute, and inventive servants.
They dream on love and happiness as
is the most artistic and expressive
source in “Arshin
Mal Alan”. Its dramaturgic role is the
major one. According to its depth of
images and development level, “Arshin
Mal Alan” is close to the comic opera.
Leitmotiv of love, based on Asker’s
famous song from the second act
assists to unity of image and inflexion
in music. As a major musical and scenic
form Uzeir Hajibeyov selected aria,
refusing traditional couplet form.