B. Lebeșev, Opera "Khoroglu", 1939
This Azerbaijani poster by graphic artist B. Lebesev depicts a performance of the opera Khoroglu at the Azerbaijani State Opera and Ballet Theatre.
Based on episodes from the Epic of Koroghlu, the five-act opera premiered on April 30, 1937 and is still frequently performed today. The opera premiered in Moscow in 1938, although was only performed in full in Russian in 1943.
Considered to be composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov's finest work, Khoroglu won him a USSR State Prize in 1941.
In this poster, the ubiquitous red banner of Lenin-Stalin has morphed into a theatre curtain. A lifelike sketch of Stalin in colour sits before a moon-like bas-relief of Lenin, and both look to the right - the direction of the future.
This forward-looking symbolism is made explicit in the poster caption in Azerbaijani: Opera "Khoroglu" - a new stage in the development of the Azerbaijani opera.
On the stage, in 16th-century costume, is Khoroglu himself. Avenging the unjust blinding of his father and the terrible conditions in which the people live, Khoroglu gathers an army of rebels and ultimately overthrows the despotic Hassan Khan.
The bottom of the poster features a band of beautiful Azerbaijani folk design. The poster was published in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1939.
Dr Anita Pisch
Anita’s new, fully illustrated book, The personality cult of Stalin in Soviet posters, 1929 -1953, published by ANU Press, is available for free download here, and can also be purchased in hard copy from ANU Press.
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