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Ademdai is the fruit of an unlikely collaboration between Robert Hugill (journalist, lecturer, reviewer, and composer) and Dario Salvi (conductor, orchestrator, researcher, and musicologist).


Having met while discussing the virtues of Meyerbeer’s first opera, Jephtas Gelübde, which Dario Salvi recorded for the label Naxos and Robert Hugill reviewed for his well-regarded blog Planet Hugill – this unlikely pair set out to compose an Operetta (or Comic Opera) inspired by a tale from The Thousand and One Nights.


The libretto is full of charm and yet packed with moral values and anecdotes. Ademdai, the protagonist of this tale, a poor young man from Baghdad, wishes nothing more than what is essential for his simple life. Ademdai rescues a pair of Merchants from being robbed one night, and he is visited the next morning by a Genie who tells him that he can wish for anything he desires, as long as it is necessary – and never superfluous.


And so, the story develops where things that had seemed superfluous at first become necessary and Ademdai’s possessions and wishes get richer and bolder as times goes on. Where will it stop? It all comes to an end when it is revealed that the Genie is none other than the Caliph of Baghdad in disguise. He was merely trying to thank Ademdai for having saved him that famous night, when he was visiting his dominions disguised as a merchant and accompanied by his Vizier Jaffar. Will the Caliph punish Ademdai or allow him to keep all the riches that he was granted, and most importantly the lovely wife that he met during his quest for the Necessary – the adorable and exotic Naima?

The music has its source in Robert Hugill’s lyrical melodies and modal harmony while Dario Salvi’s experience and knowledge of the genre allows for the orchestration to be light and yet full of inner melodies and harmonies. The score includes pantomime, melodrama, narration, and ballet music alongside songs and musical numbers, making it a truly diverse and interestingly varied experience for the audience.


The characters of the story are:

  • Scheherazade (spoken role)

  • The Caliph Harun-Al-Rashid (baritone)

  • Jaffar, his Vizier (bass)

  • Ademdai, a young man from Baghdad (tenor)

  • Naima, a Circassian young woman (soprano)

  • Chorus (People and Merchants of Baghdad, Entourage and Courtesans of the Caliph, etc)

  • Corps de Ballet

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