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Fairouz at Baalbeck 1998

"Baalbeck, I have returned, after twenty years,
To wonder and stare, 
where are those who once were...

Oh don’t worry, 
You are not forgotten,
For your words are heard, 
And your shadow lingers still... "

The stars in the skies rallied to salute her. The six pillars of 
Baalbeck bowed in respect. We held our breaths as she stood to serenade 
the above words above from behind the stage on the evening of the Aug. 
14th. Obviously they were a dedication to Assi Rahbani.

Fondled by the Baalbeck breezes and in silky white, Fairouz started her 
concert with a tribute to Baalbeck, "Baalbeck, Anna Sham3a 3ala 
drajeck..." - Baalbeck I am a candle on your steps -

The concert, which was patronised by the Lebanese president, lasted for 
three hours. After her Baalbeck overture, she presented three ensembles 
from her musicals: Jisr-l-Qamar, Jibal Asswan, and thirdly 
Natouret-l-Mafateeh. From Jisr-l-Qamar, and amongst others, she sang 
"Sinni 3am Sinni" and "Maseekon Bil Khair" all the way to conclude with 
the finale from the original musical. From Jibal Asswan, she sang 
"sa3edni" and a few others. Antoine Kirbaj joined Fairouz in some of the 
sketches which they had originally performed together back in 1968. From 
Natouret-l-Mafateeh, she sang "Taree’-l-Nahel", "Waynon", and the finale 
from the musical. 

Throughout the sketches, excellent dances were performed by more than 
sixty dancers. It was a feast of colour and beauty and rich presence on 
the theatre, especially the dance of the Djinn in Jisr-l-Qamar and the 
dance of the prisoners in Natouret-l-Mafateeh. 

The air of grandeur and the sense of nostalgia reached a peak, when 
flashbacks of Assi Rahbani (at the Olympia in Paris) , Philmone Wahbeh 
(in Baya3 Al-khawatem, the film), Nasri Shamseddin (from Safabarlek, the 
film) and a fourth person whom I did not recognise, were displayed. The 
flashbacks, projected over a big white screen, accompanied by 
corresponding soundtracks, received rapturous applause. They were very 
moving moments. Tributes to the absent knights in an evening that seemed 
dedicated to Assi. 

The Finale of the concert was as thirst quenching as expected. The voice 
of Mansour Rahbani reciting phrases of poetry was played. Fairouz, 
accompanied by the whole chorus, sang the words. It was a song to 
Lebanon which included: 

Anna rahh 3ammer watani mitel ma baddi-
                                     I shall build my land as I wish
Wijji 3ala-s-sahel, wi-l-samma haddee-
                        Overlooking the plains and the sky by my side

It was a beautiful song followed by another new song, "Ma3ak, Ya habibi, 
Ma3ak". Lastly, Fairouz sang the opening mawwal to Baalbeck and was 
joined Ellie Snaiffer and Ellie Shweiri to a third new song sang by the 
three.  The songs and sketches were very well chosen. They carried the 
right tones for our day and age. If at all, one admires the vision of 
the Rahbani brothers who created such timless pieces of music and art.

I was very privileged and ecstatic to attend this concert. Fairouz was 
the queen she always is. Her majestic presence and her velvet voice 
filled the air. The standing ovation and the words by president Hrawi. 
It certainly is a night to remember. 

Rami Adwan