Ayyam Fakherddeen/ The Days of Fakhr Eddeen (Baalbeck 1966)
The story begins in the year 1618 when the people of Lebanon are hurrying to welcome their prince Fakhr Eddeen from his return in Toscana where he has been in exile. During the ceremony, the people offer him rich gifts as their tokens of love and loyalty. Itr Allayl, a young girl from Antilias, presents him with a sword of gold. Her song and her message go so deeply into the heart of the prince that he asks her to continue her singing as an inspiration to himself and to all of her countryfolk. Her message becomes a symbol for the building of Lebanon.
But the times are not easy and there is so much to be accomplished. Koujok Ahmad, an Osmani protégée raised in the palace, is now an officer in the army of the prince. He requests an important position but his wish is refused. Koujok is unhappy and therefore conspires to overthrow the prince. He seeks the aid of Princess Mountaha who is the daughter of an influential family which has been overshadowed by Fakhr Eddeen. Koujok succeeds in the inflaming the Osmani Sultan with rage when he reveals that Fakhr Eddeen aims a building a powerful Lebanon and endangering the interests of the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, the diplomatic Sultan tries to win the loyalty of the prince and the Lebanon by endowing him with special title "The Sultan of Al Barr". In exchange of this honor, the Sultan asks Fakhr Eddeen to give up his projects for the construction of Lebanon. Fakhr Eddeen refuses to do so with the excuse that the purpose of his projects are to consolidate his friendship and loyalty with the Ottoman Empire.
Fakhr Eddeen begins to expand and clashes with Mustafa Basha who is the governor of Damascus. A disagreement starts when the Governor refuses to hand over the administration of Nablus and Ajloun to Fakhr Eddeen. A great battle takes place at Anjar and the prince wins taking Mustafa Basha as prisoner. the prince graciously releases him stating that he only wants peace.
The successes of the Prince inflame the grudge of the Koujak and Princess Mountaha. Koujok desires to go directly to Istanbul to convince the authorities that they should hasten and fight the Prince before he becomes too powerful. Mountaha thinks differently and suggests fighting the Prince without a war. Koujok refuses and leaves for Istanbul.
Itr Allayl meets the Princess by chance. The Princess is unable to carry the weight of her grudge and regrets her mistake. Lebanon is now prosperous with commerce and the ships fill the newly constructed ports. Suddenly the news comes from Istanbul that a huge army of one hundred thousand soldiers is heading for Lebanon. Even though the army of the Lebanon consists of only twenty five thousand men, they bravely prepare to defend their country. The people hope for an early rainy season which will block the mountain passes and stop the invaders.
Itr Allayl grows anxious over the war. The prince consoles with her and explains that the issue is a worthy one since it concerns the building of a country and a nation. The Prince replies: "I must personally prove to my people and the enemy that Lebanon is made to live and can live." Her father tries to calm her by telling her that great men have great dreams. He says "The fate of Fakhr Eddeen is the fate of Lebanon."
... And comes the end
Fakhr Eddeen seeks refuge in a cave in Jezzine. Itr Allayl seeks him out in his hiding place and finds him alone with only a few of his most loyal friends. The winter season is exceptionally late this year and there is danger of discovery from one of the scouting parties of the enemy.
A mercenary soldier discovers the hiding place of the prince and reveals the secret to Koujok Ahmad. Koujok encircles the cave and demands that the prince surrenders. The faithful friends of the Prince anxiously await his orders to fight the Osmani traitor. The Prince replies: "What has happened is enough, we should not destroy what we have built. We did what we had to do and this is our fate. The enemy wants only me, the bargain is for me alone."
Itr Allayl refuses to believe that the Prince must leave Lebanon. When she asks: "Is it true that you are surrendering?" The Prince replies: "Did the people build the country and did they plant the land and did they erect the bridges?" Itr Allayl answers that all has been accomplished. The Prince then proudly exclaims: "My girl, my departure is not important, the important issue is that the Lebanon exists now and forever."
Fakhr Eddeen surrenders to the enemy and Itr Allayal in her grief begins to sing. Suddenly her grief changes to happiness as she realizes that Lebanon will live and remain. She inspires everyone with her feelings until all join her in the song. Heroes depart but their stories never end.
Based on real events, the Rahbani Brothers wrote this epic for Baalbeck festivals of 1966. For the plot, refer to the booklet summary. As for the audio, it's good but it changes in volume and quality in some parts but not to the extent to make it unenjoyable. The dialogues/songs are divided into three tracks on each disc. Let's hope the play will be re-issued at better quality. In the end, it's a great play with great songs and a great plot.
Fairuz as Itr Allayl, Nasri Shammesddin as Fakhr Eddeen and Philemon Wehbe as Bou Gergi
With Huda Haddad, Siham Chammas, Salah Tizani, Joesph Nassif, Mohamed Merhi, Elie Choueri, William Haswani, Renee Haswani, Said Azar, Michel Haj, Melhem Barakat, Roger Assaf, Madona Ghazi and Andre Gedeon. Written by the Rahbani Brothers and directed by Sabri Sharif.