|Saturday, August 05, 2000 (Cyberia Editorial
Lebanon’s “neighbor of the moon,” mesmerized the audience at
Sahrat Fairouz wa Ziad al Rahbany, the closing and crowning
act of the Beiteddine Festival.
Fairouz entered the stone courtyard of Beiteddine palace
Friday night, the entire audience gave her a standing ovation.
Her beautiful singing – untarnished by age - left many with
tears in their eyes, and in the end they just would not let
Looking more modern than usual in a fire-engine red
wraparound dress, her auburn hair cut bluntly above her
shoulders and simply coiffed, Lebanon’s living legend stood on
stage in her characteristic stiff-backed pose and,
occasionally moving her left hand for emphasis, delivered a
selection of old and new songs, channeling all her emotions
into her instantly recognizable voice.
Chosen by her son Ziad, who produced the concert, the 30
featured songs and orchestral pieces were received with almost
religious joy by both the graying Fairouz fans and the younger
set who hold Ziad – a rather revolutionary character whose
irreverent music is much influenced by Jazz and Blues - in the
same esteem as his iconic mother.
Under a crescent moon and the occasional shooting star,
Fairouz was accompanied by her son on piano, a 50 person
orchestra (conducted by Karen Dugaryan) and 14 person choir.
The show featured a few of the nostalgic, nationalistic
anthems of the war years but even the new compositions weren’t
unfamiliar to the receptive audience. Most of the songs were
either composed by Ziad or taken from the hugely popular
Rahbany brothers musicals that hurtled Fairouz to fame in
Fairouz’s singing, which had kept the hope of the Lebanese
people alive throughout the dark years of the civil war,
evoked again the powerful emotions of those times, especially
with the older songs. When she sang Btitloj il Dinni (When it
snows), taken from The Return of the Baalbek Soldiers musical,
telling the story of a woman who has lost her love to the war,
tears were streaming down faces as they sang along. “When it
snows/ and when there is sunshine/ O Lebanon I will love you
until the end of the world/ I will hide you in my eyes/ and
tell you a song/ your snow is love/ and your sunshine is
The audience was silent and contemplative at times and
raucous at others with people standing on their chairs to
dance and clap to old numbers like Nassam alayna al Hawa (The
wind is blowing upon us) in which she asks the wind blowing in
from the valley to take her back to her country. Another song
evoking party-mode in the audience was one of Ziad’s own,
Talfan Ayyash (Ayyash phoned), never sung by Fairouz before,
taken from Ziad’s album Be Ma Inno.
The climax of the concert was Sabah oo Masa (Morning and
evening) a previously unreleased plaintive love song.
Accompanied only by Ziad on piano, Fairouz sang: “Morning and
evening/ something that cannot be forgotten/ I left love/ and
took sadness/will my love return?/ morning and evening.” The
audience, hearing those words for the first time responded
with shouts of appreciation and applause. Even members of the
chorus and orchestra, stopped and watched her with transfixed
After two intense hours the audience still wanted more and
demanded that Fairouz came back on stage for an encore. She
sang three more songs for them, and even tried to appease them
with classics like Nahna wil Qamar Jiran (We and the moon are
neighbors) and Oudak Ghannan (Your oud is a singer). But this
still wasn’t enough. In the end Fairouz came out dressed in
sparkling white just like her neighbor the moon, and
graciously thanked the audience before walking off stage for
the last time.
Fairouz is performing on Saturday August 6 and Tuesday
Written by: Munira