Aznavour tells his story in Milan


ANSA English Media Service
June 22, 2004


(ANSA) – MILAN, June 22 – Popular French singer Charles Aznavour said
that he was not an Armenian from France but simply a Frenchman of
Armenian origin when talking about himself in Milan’s Teatro Dal Verme
at the opening of the fifth La Milanesiana cultural event on Monday.

“I’m not an Armenian from France, I’m simply a Frenchman of Armenian
origin and I care more about humanitarian affairs than politics,” said
Aznavour who is son of an Armenian family which fled before the Turkish
genocide against the Armenians at the beginning of 20th century.

Aznavour entered the stage with the humbleness of a lively and somewhat
shy 80-year-old. The singer was dressed in ivory colour and matching
shoes, he looked almost disoriented when the public welcomed him with
a standing ovation.

The audience that came to see Aznavour were elegant women and men of
a certain age, many with pastel-coloured jackets, white hair and a
few young people, actress Ottavia Piccolo and the member of Italian
Parliament, Giancarlo Pagliarini.

Presented by former editor of main Italian daily Corriere della Sera,
Ferruccio De Bortoli, Aznavour did not make introductions and began
reading some excerpts from his autobiography which will go on sale
from Wednesday.

Aznavour chose lively stories to tell the Milanese public and said
nothing specific on that travel from the inferno where the paradise
called emigration begins, as he wrote in his autobiography.

He preferred to recall the amusing meeting with Edith Piaf, the singer
who discovered him and of whom he remembered her lioness character
and outbursts and the tender nickname she invented for him, “little
stupid genius”.

Aznavour read in French, but slowly, while the original words from
the text in French and the Italian translation were shown on a screen
behind him.

The rest of the evening was dedicated to history and music. Former
Italian Ambassdor to Moscow and political commentator for Corriere
della Sera, Sergio Romano, made special observation on eastern
Europe and the conditions in Armenia, reminding of the Turkish laws
from 1915 for deportation of Armenians and the confiscation of the
their goods. The Armenians were massacred on their way to exile,
with 800,000 killed but there were surely more victims, Romano said.

The music was with Claude Debussy’s melancholic notes, with Michele
Campanella on the piano who chose pieces from Reverie to Estampes
especially because of the tone of Aznavour’s voice and because they
represent the quintessence of French music, Campanella said.

“When people ask me whether I feel more Armenian or more French,
there is only one possible answer – a hundred percent French and a
hundred percent Armenian,” Aznavour wrote in his autobiography.

The French singer is Armenia’s ambassador at large since 1994.

“Armenia is a dream from which my family comes,” Aznavour told the
audience while the screen behind him showed images of Charles as a
child and of when he was awarded Commander of the Legion of Honour
by French President Jacques Chirac.

“I never forgot my roots but I hid them when Armenia was a socialist
state,” Aznavour said.

Today he is aware of the problems still to face but he does not intend
to go into politics.

“I’m an ambassador of a country, I know that there are still
difficulties but politics is not my job, it is not my language,”
Aznavour said. (ANSA)