“About three years ago, he suffered brain injuries, which resulted in a stroke; he was hospitalized and finally, he passed away,” Davud Fathalibeigi, a top expert on traditional Iranian dramatic performances who is a close friend of Qasemi, told the Persian service of MNA on Sunday.
He said that Qasemi was Iran’s first performer who staged a tazieh piece at the Festival d’Avignon in France, one of the most important international events in the field of contemporary performing arts.
“His voice was really influential in tone and he did his acting movements really nicely from an esthetic point of view,” Fathalibeigi noted.
“His death is a great loss for me; he was really a perfect artist in tazieh,” he said in conclusion.
Qasemi began his career in tazieh in childhood with his elder brother in Taleqan, a town about 170 kilometers west of Tehran.
They later collaborated with performers in Qazvin and Tehran, two major centers for tazieh performances.
Qasemi set up a troupe giving numerous performances across the world.
Tazieh, the Iranian passion play, represents religious events, historical and mythical stories and folk tales. Each performance has the four components of poetry, music, song and motion.
Performers are always male, and female roles are played by men, most of whom are amateurs who gain their living through other means but perform for spiritual rewards.
Tazieh was registered on UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in November 2010.
“The root of the word tazieh comes from the Arabic-Persian word ‘aza’ which means mourning and grieving,” Qasemi told the Tehran Times in an interview conducted in September 2019.
“Therefore, some may imagine that tazieh only depicts events that are related to mourning and sorrow, but happy and joyful events in the history of Islam and Iran can also be the theme of tazieh,” he added.
“We also have comic tazieh plays like ‘The Meeting of Prophet Solomon and the Queen of Sheba’ which is very delightful,” he noted.
Qasemi’s funeral will be held on Monday morning and he will be buried in the Artists Section of Tehran’s Behesht Zahara Cemetery.