Mag 15 2009, 23:48
The 44th Carthage International Festival came to an end on Sunday. Reactions from organisers and fans have been positive, with large audiences turning out for a wide variety of Tunisian, Arab and Western music.
The 44th annual Carthage International Festival ended Sunday (August 17th), bringing to a close what organisers are calling the most successful event in years in terms of attendance.
"I think that the Tunisian performances were what attracted the audience," said 45-year-old Najib Belaid. "This may be because of the scheduling, and the festival manager was able to find out the secret of a successful recipe in Carthage."
This year's festivities opened with a Tunisian performance entitled "Gathering and Gaiety" in which director Bechir Idrissi addressed different aspects of Tunisian culture and tradition, as well as youth-related issues.
A number of Arab singing stars took part in this year's Carthage Festival, such as Majida El Roumi and Najwa Karam from Lebanon; Hani Shaker and Angham from Egypt; Latifa Arfaoui, Saber Rebai and Amina Fakhet from Tunisia and Kazem al-Saher from Iraq.
The closing performance, also Tunisian, was entitled Ya Leil Ya Qamar (O night, O moon!) by Tunisian musician Mohammed Garfi, who presented lyrics and mouwashahat (terza rima) which sang of love and homeland.
Mohammed Garfi also presented a number of Arab poems set to original music, most notably "Watani jabinak" by the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, sung by singer Slah Mesbah.
The performance also featured classical music pieces from Mozart's operas "The Marriage of Figaro" and "The Magic Flute".
About this blending of western and oriental music, music student Haitem Hdiri told Magharebia: "This is a courageous initiative because it is difficult to blend between the two styles. He also used musical pieces from operas as part of the Carthage Theatre. However, Garfi's music derives from oriental heritage and western opera art."
Audience members were divided in their assessment of the closing performance. There were some who considered it inferiour to what Garfi has been presenting in terms of music, while others saw in it a good, innovative initiative.
"I was actually surprised with this performance. It looked as if Garfi was giving a lesson to his students at the university. I didn't see Garfi as I know him in presenting Arab musical decorations. In fact, this performance was not suitable as a conclusion for Carthage," Anisa Youssef said.
Another attendee, 15-year-old Olfa, disagreed. "I came here especially to enjoy what master Garfi presented. He has us accustomed to quality work, and he didn't disappoint us in this performance," she said.
Wahid Kouki feels Garfi was correct in selecting the voices, such as Slah Mesbah and Noureddine Beji. "He is a refined artist," Kouki said, "and I'm thirsty for such performances."
Noureddine Beji, a Tunisian musician, said, "Garfi is a great master and his thoughts are good. His music is wonderful, and he loves difficult things."
Amani, 25 years old, said, "Carthage is one of the biggest Arab festivals. This edition featured many surprises and good performances. The opening was like a show that displayed Tunisian culture and heritage in all of its aspects. The closing performance was also Tunisian and many beautiful voices took part in it. We also can't forget that the Arab performances also attracted huge audiences, such as Kadhem Saher's performance."
The next major event to be held at the Roman theatre in Carthage is an Arab and foreign cinema series from August 24th to 31st.