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Melbourne Festival


Presented with Arts Centre Melbourne

Layla and Majnun

Mark Morris Dance Group and Silkroad Ensemble

Their love is as clear as the desert sky, but for Layla and Majnun destiny is a cruel matchmaker.

Pre-dating Romeo and Juliet by a thousand years, this epic romance forms the basis for a dance and music work that is a sensory feast of swirling movement and eye-popping colour. Over a century ago Uzeyir Hajibeyli’s Layla and Majnun debuted as the Middle East's first opera—now a host of our era's finest artists rework this classic tale for the twenty-first century.

Legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma brought the Silkroad Ensemble’s chamber arrangement of the Azerbaijani opera to prodigious choreographer Mark Morris, who draws from ballet, modern and folk dance to create a style of movement unique to this work. The virtuosic performers of the Silkroad Ensemble fuse musical traditions across cultures, centred by mugham singers Alim Qasimov alongside daughter and protégée Fargana Qasimova, whose vocal commands have earned them rockstar status.

Backed by a dazzling design by Howard Hodgkin—one of Britain's greatest contemporary artists—and accented by flowing gowns and tunics in coral and blue, this tragedy of unfulfilled yearning is ultimately elevated into a communal celebration of love's power beyond the temporal plane.

★★★★★ "One of the most moving dances Morris has made."


"Unlike any piece Morris has made before, or like any dance performance in recent memory, for that matter."


"Visually beautiful."


"This is the most ambitious and profound work that Morris has created in the past ten years or more."



Direction and Choreography Mark Morris
Scenic and Costume Design Howard Hodgkin
Lighting Design James F. Ingalls
Music Layla and Majnun by Uzeyir Hajibeyli, arranged by Alim Qasimov, Johnny Gandelsman and Colin Jacobsen

Alim Qasimov, mugham vocals (Majnun)
Fargana Qasimova, mugham vocals (Layla)

Mark Morris Dance Group
The Silk Road Ensemble

Layla and Majnun is a Mark Morris Dance Group/Cal Performances, UC Berkeley production in association with Melbourne International Arts Festival; Harris Theater for Music and Dance; Hopkins Center for the Arts; The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; Krannert Center for the Performing Arts; Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; Sadler’s Wells; University Musical Society, University of Michigan; and University of Washington World Series.

Presenting Partner 

Book now

Wed 10—Sat 13 October 2018

Wed—Sat 8PM
Sat also 2PM

Premium $139
A Reserve $119 / $109
B Reserve $89 / $79
C Reserve $59 / $49
Under 30s $39

Transaction fees may apply

  • Assistive listening
  • Wheelchair
Latecomers will not be admitted