By Lilit Deryan
YEREVAN — The showcase titled “Gariné Cocktail …” was a triumph. Certainly, the lasting and ecstatic standing ovation was one of the longest and loudest we have witnessed in a long time at the National Opera House of Armenia on June 25.
The evening comprised two parts, offered quartets and sextets from operas by Verdi, Puccini, Mozart and Tchouhadjian, performed by singers from the opera’s Young Singers’ program.
Three well-known and excellent opera soloists, tenors Hovhannes Ayvazyan and Liparit Avetisyan and soprano Irina Zakyan joined the young singers, some of whom had never appeared on this stage before; actually, some had never appeared on any opera stage before, in front of a full orchestra.
Most memorable moments were Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte” sextet dynamically and hilariously staged by the evening’s director Gerald Papasian, and Olympia’s aria and a Sextet from Dikran Tchouhadjian’s opera “Arsace Secondo” (Arshak II) which were world premieres in their original Italian and uncut form since the opera’s creation in 1868.
After an intermission, Papasian presented an “aperitif,” as he called it, of Tchouhadjian’s opera buffa “Gariné’s” first act, with some of the young singers, the opera’s chorus and orchestra.
This was yet another “premiere” as far as orchestration was concerned since the opera was performed for the first time since Tchouhadjian’s lifetime with the composer’s original instrumentation recently found in Paris by the Dikran Tchouhadjian International Institute. Some never heard before melodies were also revealed on this occasion.
The aim of this evening was to generate enough interest and funds to produce the entire opera-buffa later next season.
Yet this “demo production” was not really what one would call a semi-staged performance as Papasian, playing the master of ceremonies, had announced. Viktoria Riedo’s candy store approach of sets, contemporary costumes, (casual outfits, torn jeans, shorts) lights and video work were a non-stop visual delight.
As for the staging, it certainly showed Papasian’s ability to move the singers, especially the chorus, traditionally static, rather like backup singers, who were unrecognizable during the show, displaying acrobatic moves and dances never before seen on the Yerevan opera stage. His buoyant and most humorous direction was a breath of fresh air, fully appreciated by an elated and ecstatic audience.
Our opera theater seems to be heading for a very prominent change, bringing it closer to European and international approaches where opera means theatre and a stage director is the main person to lead it in that direction. Kudos to Gerald Papasian!
As master of ceremonies, Papasian ended the first act in a take-off of TV soap opera: “What will be the fate of the heroes of the play? You shall soon find out when we present the full production. Join us next season!”
Minister of Culture Armen Amiriyan seemed to be having tremendous fun along with the audience. He congratulated all involved artists backstage, especially appreciating the modern approach and youthful freshness of the evening, calling it a triumph and hoping to see the entire thing soon.
As the showcase ended with a cliffhanger, a delighted little 6-year-old girl sitting right in front of me turned to her mother and said: “Mama, mama, I want to see how it all ends!”
Special thanks go to artistic and acting director Constantine Orbelian without whose help and vision none of this would have ever happened.
“GARINÉ Cocktail …” evening’s Stage director Gerald Papasian, conductor Haroutyoun Arzoumanyan, Music director Levon Javadyan, Sets/costumes/lights/video designer Viktoria Riedo, Choreographer Maria Divanian, Chorus master Radik Melikian.
PART ONE singers: Hovhannes Ayvazyan, Liparit Avetisyan, Irina Zakyan, Marianna Martirosyan, Sargis Bajbeouk-Melikian, Sofia Tumanyan, Hasmik Asatryan, Lusine Makaryan, Kim Sargsyan, Hayk Tongouryan, Silva Petrosyan, Vahe Matteos Hakhverdian, Anouche Martirossian, Vardan Sahakyan, Gosh Sargsian, Sergey Stepanyan.
GARINÉ singers : Sargis Bajbeouk-Melikian, Silva Petrosyan, Vahe Matteos Hakhverdian, Arsen Gevorgyan, Anouche Martirossian, Nune Grigoryan.