German newspaper names Avet Terterian star of the year

March 26 2004


YEREVAN, MARCH 26, ARMENPRESS: Avet Terterian was awarded by a
German Az-Abendzeitung newspaper the title of Star of the Year for
his Earthquake opera. The world premiere of the Armenian composer
Avet Terterian’s opera “The Earthquake” was held on March 16, 2003 at
Munich’s Gertnerplatztheater. The opera’s libretto was written by
Gerta Stecher together with Terterian.
Heinrich von Kleist’s famous 1806 novella “The Earthquake in
Chile” provides the basic outline of the dramatic operatic subject,
which is the destruction of Santiago de Chile in 1647. Kleist tells
of a nobleman’s daughter who was placed in a convent in order to
separate her from her lover. When the lovers are caught in the
convent garden, they are sentenced to death. An earthquake frees them
shortly before the execution. The lovers go to the city’s half
destroyed cathedral in order to take part in the Mass and thank God
for saving them. They are recognized there and branded guilty at the
trial, then killed by the enraged crowd.
Avet Terterian’s creativity is rooted in the archaic traditions of
Armenian music. Melodic flourishes are present, but are used as sound
gestures contrasting with passages rich in tone color. The point of
departure of Terterian’s style is often a single tone held out over
long stretches of time.
In a conversation with Hannelore Gerlach, Terterian commented upon
his work as follows: “The confrontation between the individual and
the masses is the stimulating thing about this subject. It is the
problem of a pure, honest love amidst collective cruelty arising from
the insensitive adherence to outmoded moral concepts. Many problems
come to a head here through the occurrence of the earthquake –
people’s behavior towards each other, their weaknesses, their
transformations. The point is not the unsettling of the earth as a
natural event, but rather the unsettling of each individual person
and the behavior caused by it.”
Terterian was born in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1929 and died in 1994 in
Yekaterinburg, Russia. He graduated from Yerevan Conservatory and
wrote 8 symphonies, two operas, a ballet and many other works.