Simorgh, the mythical bird created by Ferdowsi in his great epic Shahnameh, has now been revived in a remarkable operetta under the same name. It took its composer, Hamid Motebassem, more than three years of tireless effort to complete this major project for which he painstakingly researched the Shahnameh, selected stories from it and created the music appropriate for this masterpiece.
The Simorgh operetta illustrates one of the most beautiful stories of the Shahnameh, the story of the love of Zaal and Roodabeh. It not only deals with love, but also with a whole array of human feelings and concerns from desire, devotion and forgiveness to greed, fear, and the vagaries of destiny and luck.
The complexity of the scenes and the vivid portrayal of the characters had to be conveyed by an equally expressive music. Motebassem achieved this by composing polyphonic music on the pattern of European operetta, whilst at the same time firmly based on traditional Iranian music and instruments. It is performed by a big orchestra comprising twenty two musicians and five vocalists.
Hamid Motebassem was raised in a musical family, where his first teacher was his father who taught him to play the tar. He studied in the Conservatory of Persian Music and was subsequently active playing and teaching music in Iran. He moved to Germany in 1986 and has since founded several ensembles including the Dastan, as well as the Tar and Setar Society, where he organizes annual seminars dedicated to these two instruments. He has also performed in many recordings of contemporary Iranian music and concerts of the Dastan Ensemble.
In this multimedia report, he talks about his motivation and dedication in creating this extraordinary work. We also have an opportunity to listen to him playing the setar as part of the Simorgh operetta.