Gaby Abi Rached
Co-composer and orchestra conductor
Pascale Sayegh Zgheib
A Byblos International Festival Production
Toni Abi Akl and Boutros Hanna
Assistant light design
Elias Rahbani Studios
Recording, engineering and mixing
Music played by
The Lebanese Orchestra
Georges Abu Mhaya
It’s around the year 1370 B.C. on the occasion of the Adonis and Aphrodite Festival. The Wise shepherd speaks to the Phoenix bird, which burns itself every fifty years then rises from its ashes after three days. Rib-Addi, King of Byblos begs the Egyptian pharaoh Akhnaton II to save him from his enemies: his brother Abshimo, Aziru the Hittite King, and Majdu the rebellion.
In the square where the feast is celebrated, Roxana (daughter of Rib-Addi) and Majdu (Son of a ship carpenter working for Rib-Addi) play the role of Adonis and Aphrodite in presence of the Priest Minar. The beast attacks Adonis and kills him.
Anubis, the pharaoh’s representative and the real governor of Byblos, arrives, and confronts Majdu. His men kidnap the Priest Minar. Majdu convinces Roxana to join the rebels, but she refuses.
Ramia, Majdu’s father, tries to convince his son to leave the rebels and work in the ship building, but he refuses.
In the Hittite military tent, Aziru provokes Rib-Addi’s brother Abshimo to rebel against his brother and kill him.
Aziru agrees with Zoya the Amorite (her mother is a Byblos citizen, and her father id Hittite) to overthrow Rib-Addi, with the assistance of Abshimo. This latter was promised to rule in return, knowing that he would be a weak ruler and a puppet in the hands of the Hittite governor, and the pharaohs would be expelled from Byblos.
Zoya visits Rib-Addi and convinces him to end his coalition with the Egyptians and to enter into alliance with the Hittites. The coup d’état is decided at Aziro’s. It shall take place on the Commemoration Day of the Phoenician alliance with the Egyptians.
Byblos Square. Everybody is joyful. Majdu denigrates the celebration, for he considers it a submission to the Egyptians. A messenger announces to Rib-Addi that the Hittites are on the gates of the City and that the army surrendered.
Rib-Addi flees to Beirut, and Anubis to Egypt. Only Majdu remains in the square, facing the Hittites, and defending Byblos.
The war got to its end and Rib-Addi flew away. Abshimo is now in power, assisted by the Hittites. He is the new King of Byblos. After Rib-Addi escaped to Beirut, his daughter Roxana to the mountains, and Anubis to Egypt, Abshimo decided to chase Majdu, the rebel. The Hittite King Aziru arrives and the crowds greet him, forgetting all about Abshimo.
Roxana is led to her rebel lover, Majdu. She asks him to accompany her to Beirut, but he prefers to remain with the rebels to free Byblos from the Hittites and the Egyptians. However, Roxana insists that he goes with her and help her father get back the control over Byblos.
In Beirut, Rib-Addi gets ready to counter attack, assisted by the Egyptians.
Back to Byblos, Rib-Addi faces his brother Abshimo. A duel takes place between both men. Rib-Addi stabs his brother who falls down dead. Suddenly, the Hittite army returns to the gates of Byblos. A disagreement arises between the King who relies on the Egyptians and the militants who refuse the influence of both the Egyptians and the Hittites, and want a united country encompassing Tyre, Saida, Byblos and Tripoli. Both the Hittite King Aziru and Rib-Addi, the Egyptians’ ally confront each other somewhere. Neither of them is convinced by the other’s argument. The men of Anubis arrest Majdu and Roxana. Her father Rib-Addi is very concerned. Zoya negotiates with the King, asking him to send Aziru a cedar-wood fleet in order to remove the pressure exerted on Byblos, but the King refuses.
Aziru, the Hittite, gets ready to attack Byblos. Rib-Addi sends him a precious crown and other Byblos antique gifts, asking him not to involve Byblos in their battle to force the Egyptians out of the East. Yet, Aziru refuses and declares war on Byblos. The rebels find their way to Majdu and Roxana. They attack the guards and free both lovers.
Majdu goes back to Byblos and fights with Rib-Addi in his war against the Hittites. The King dies and Majdu carries the crown back to Byblos. Majdu asks the citizens of Byblos either to flee or to die. They refuse to run away from Aziru’s invading army. Majdu and Roxana go up to the temple and burn the city and the fleet. In front of this bravery, Aziru goes down on his knees. Byblos citizens shout: “The invader kneeled down, and justice triumphed”.
Out of the flames, Majdu and Roxana yell: “We did not surrender. We did not kneel. We have burnt ourselves and risen from ashes. Byblos triumphed and defeated death. It reached the impossible,”
Byblos citizens yell altogether: “Byblos is like the Phoenix. It burns and rises from its ashes. It’s the permanent return of the Phoenix”.