‘Arshin Mal Alan’
(‘The Cloth-Peddler’) 
Marionette Show in 12 Scenes

Based on Oriental musical of the Year 1913, by Uzeyir Hajibeyli

The show created in 1985–1990
Soundtrack recorded in 1988

‘Arshin Mal Alan’ is the third and thus the last musical by Uzeyir Hajibeyli. It was staged and loved in many countries around the world. The story itself was taken from the real life of the famous mugham singer Majid-bey:

The young man Asker is the son of one of the most respected merchants of the town. Asker wants to marry, but he will never agree to do it without seeing and loving the girl, while that is not allowed by tradition. Aiming to make it proper both for him and the public, Asker applies a helpful trick: he changes his appearance, pretending to look like a cloth-peddler and touring the streets and yards in search of the girl of his heart. And his adventures are endless.

Stage Director – Tarlan Gorchu
Art Directors – Elchin Mammadov, Tarlan Gorchu
Music Adaptation by – Javanshir Guliyev
Puppets’ Craftsmen – Elman Mirzayev, Shamil Buksayev, Irma Kaadze, Elmira Abbasli
Sets’ Craftsmen – Abas-Ali Mustafayev, Elman Mirzayev, Tarlan Gorchu, Zeynab Kaadze

Cast of Characters / Singers & Actors Recorded:

Asker, a young, rich merchant – Ilgar Muradov (vocal), Fuzuli Huseynov (dialogues)
Jahan-khala, Asker’s aunt – Zarnigar Aghakishiyeva (vocal & dialogues)
Suleyman, Asker’s friend – Elkhan Ahadzadeh (vocal), Ramiz Melikov (dialogues)
Veli, Asker’s servant – Yasin Garayev (vocal & dialogues)
Sultan-bek, an old, poor aristocrat, a widower – Siyavush Aslan (vocal & dialogues)
Gulchohra, Sultan-bek’s daughter – Khuraman Gasimova (vocal), Malahat Abbasova (dialogues)
Asya, Gulchohra’s cousin – Najiba Huseynova (vocal & dialogues)
Telli, Gulchohra’s maidservant – Nuriya Ahmadova (vocal & dialogues)

Puppeteers:

Ali Allahverdiyev / Mehman Musabeyli
Sabuhi Yagubov / Hasan Yagubov
Zaur Mammadov / Hikmet Aydinoghlu
Nazim Huseynov / Ilgar Rasulov
Ramiz Aliyev, Rizvan Alasgar





THE PLOT:

THE FIRST PART

Scene 1: Asker’s mansion

Asker is melancholy, wondering how he will ever find true love and marry. “I won’t marry any girl unless I have seen her and fallen in love with her first.” “But nobody will let you see their daughter before the wedding ceremony. That’s the custom”, his aunt tells him. Suleyman, Asker’s friend comes up with an idea: “Take an arshin (a metre ruler) and roam around the streets as a cloth-seller, welcomed at any place. You will then be able to meet the girl of your dreams.”

Scene 2: Streets of Baku
Asker has been roaming the streets for some days – but in vain. Suddenly he is accosted by two thieves who demand money... The fools end up bargaining with each other appropriate amount to take. But they bargain down not up! Finally, scared to death, Asker leaps up and away over the nearby wall.

Scene 3: Sultan-bek’s orchard
Gulchohra is sitting in the beautiful orchard. She too is feeling melancholy: she will never agree to marry blindly. Neither Asya, her cousin, nor Telli, her maidservant, can convince her otherwise. Suddenly a cloth-seller (Asker) lands in the orchard, right by the fountain. The moment he sees Gulchohra he falls in love. The moment she sees Asker, she too falls in love. They joyfully sing. Love is in the air...

Scene 4: Streets of Baku
Asker returns home, overjoyed. He is happy indeed. His faithful servant Veli celebrates the moment along with Asker. They both are happy for at last Asker has found his true love.

Scene 5: Sultan-bek’s orchard
Asker brings his aunt to the place where Gulchohra lives. When Sultan-bek meets Jahan-Khala he immediately falls in love with her and talks of marrying her. Asker comes out of his hiding to declare... “Oh, dear bek, let’s become relatives twice over: I’ll give you my Aunt and you let me marry your daughter.” “You rascal!” Sultan-bek furiously exclaims. “My daughter shall never become the wife of a beggar! Go away!”


I N T E R V A L


THE SECOND PART

Scene 6: Sultan-bek’s mansion
Suleyman meets Sultan-bek to propose his friend Asker as a husband for Gulchohra. Sultan-bek agrees, knowing Asker’s reputation in the city as an honourable rich young merchant. During that matchmaking visit Suleyman and Asya occasionally meet here each other and feel mutual attraction...

Scene 7: The street in front of Sultan-bek’s mansion
Whilst the marriage of Asker and Gulchohra is being discussed inside Sultan-bek’s mansion, Asker’s merchant Veli there outside finds a love for himself: Telli, Gulchohra’s maidservant. Telli is inclined to accept his offer and wonders repeatedly if Veli has a lot of money. Veli also repeatedly replies: “Yes, I do! Yes, I have!”

Scene 8: Sultan-bek’s mansion
Sultan-bek tells his daughter that he has decided she should marry Asker – a rich young merchant. Gulchohra despairs. “Father, I love only the cloth-seller. I’ll marry no-one but him.” The furious Sultan-Bek threatens to kill his daughter and everyone in the house.

Scene 9: The street in front of Sultan-bek’s mansion
However, Sultan-bek realises the only solution is to allow Asker’ men to kidnap Gulchochra during the night. Then she will have no option besides becoming Asker’s wife.

Scene 10: Beautiful room
Gulchohra finds herself beneath a crystal chandelier in a strange room. She is distraught. “They want me to marry the merchant, Asker. I would rather hang myself than agree to marry him.” Asker enters the room and in that instant Gulchohra recognises that he and the cloth-seller are one and the same person.

Scene 11: Room with mirrors
Asker then explains the reason for the disguise. “We have now four weddings to celebrate at the same time.” Asker marries Gulchohra, Sultan-bek marries Cahan, Suleyman marries Asya, and Veli marries Telli.

Scene 12: Final scene
Asker and Gulchohra fly up and away in their balloon – their romantic honeymoon starts.
By the way, in a few days the Paris seasons will begin. So, to Paris! To Paris!

  

Designer: Tarlan Gorchu

Photographers: Eva Abilova, Tarlan Gorchu, Vladimir German, Andrey Kovalyov, Anatoliy Khmelevskiy, Hikmet Aydinoglu