What has Orfeo got to do with Majnun, or about what links the East and West


As in the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice which contributed to the development of the artistic form of the traditional Western opera, Leila and Majnun are the heroes of the first opera in Middle Eastern culture. Orfeo and Majnun become the personification of the beauty and emotional power of song, music, and poetry. Glory and lament, joy and mourning, love, loss and longing are woven into their poetry, between memory and dream.

Both poets flee from people, both pour their suffering and sadness into poetry to create beautiful songs, and both are surrounded by animals, their only companions. And although the drama of each is slightly different – Eurydice is taken by death from Orfeo, and Majnun loses Leila on her father’s order and through her marriage to another man – in both cases death finally parts them, to later eventually bring the two star-crossed lovers together again.

In the Greek myth the lovers are separated because of Orfeo’s failure to obey the principles imposed by the gods, while the main obstacles on the path of love in the Arabic/Persian story are the patriarchal customs and principles that organised society.

Yet both stories speak of the fundamental experiences important to every human being: love and loss, passionate longing and profound mourning. They speak of death, but also of remembrance and the costs of survival.