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Stories from Home: Layla and Majnun: A Persian Love Story

Listen to Stories from Home: Layla and Majnun: A Persian Love Story

Photo of three women on stage

Serpil Senelmis, Aida Huseynova and Shokoofeh Azar

An ancient, epic tale of star-crossed lovers, Layla and Majnun is more than 1000 years old. The story is revived at this year’s Melbourne International Arts Festival, in a magnificent dance production choreographed by Mark Morris.

As a complement to these performances, the Wheeler Centre hosted a conversation about the significance of the Layla and Majnun legend, in the past and today, and on the nature of Persian storytelling traditions more broadly.

Hear from musicologist Aida Huseynova, an expert in the music and culture of Azerbaijan, who consulted on the Layla and Majnun production; and from Shokoofeh Azar, acclaimed author of The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree, who drew on Persian legends when writing her Stella Prize-shortlisted novel. 

With host Serpil Senelmis, the pair discuss deep, burning love in Persian storytelling, the traditions of mugham music, and the role of adaptation and interpretation in keeping traditional stories alive.

Presented in partnership with Melbourne International Arts Festival.


Portrait of Shokoofeh Azar

Shokoofeh Azar

Shokoofeh Azar was born in Iran in 1972, just seven years before the Islamic revolution. Despite spending most of her childhood and early career in a hostile environment for independent writing, Shokoofeh’s interest in writing and art was sparked by her father who was an Iranian intellectual, author, poet and artist. She studied literature at high school and university, later working as a journalist for an independent newspaper for fourteen years.


Portrait of Aida Huseynova

Aida Huseynova

Aida Huseynova Ph.D., a musicologist from Azerbaijan, is a Lecturer in Music at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Since 2006, Huseynova has served as a research advisor for the Mark Morris Dance Group, the Silk Road Ensemble founded by Yo-Yo Ma, the Kronos Quartet and the Aga Khan Music Initiative.

Among her publications is the monograph Music of Azerbaijan: From Mugham to Opera (Indiana University Press, 2016). Huseynova’s awards include an Andrew W. Mellon grant (2015), a Fulbright Fellowship (2007–08).

Portrait of Serpil Senelmis

Serpil Senelmis

Serpil Senelmis is an Australian broadcaster with Turkish heritage. She is the co-director of Written & Recorded, a content agency.

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