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KAJ NAZAR - London Armenian Opera at the Bishop Centre, Hammersmith, April 13/14, 2019



‘witty revival of Armenia’s first comic opera’


Kaj Nazar by Haro Stepanian, billed as Armenia’s first comic opera, has not been seen since its premiere

It was possibly a victim of Soviet displeasure. Its title, which means Nazar the Brave, is not without irony.


Drawing on traditional stories and a narrative by the poet Hovhaness Toumanian, it tells of a lazy, arrogant

villager who somehow ends up as a supreme, war-mongering ruler. Starting off rather like the Grimm Brothers’

Valiant Little Tailor, it becomes closer to Rimsky-Korsakov’s caustic opera The Golden Cockerel.              


Combining folk elements and sometimes abrasive modernism, the score is piquant, unpredictable and often witty.

Its impact is assured by the conductor, Levon Parikian. The first two acts weave together flexible arioso and mercurial

instrumental motifs, while Acts III and IV bring some longer-breathed numbers, including a dance sequence and a

sinuous aria for Nazar’s long-suffering wife, Ustian.                                                                                                  


Sung and played with spiky charm by Tereza Gevorgyan, she keeps close tabs on the Nazar of Berj Karazian.

 He pitches his comic antics precisely – this anti-hero is both exasperating and strangely endearing – while sustaining

 a lyrical tenor line. Aris Nadirian, London Armenian Opera’s artistic director, is a powerful vocal and physical presence

 as Sako, who becomes Nazar’s general, and each of the supporting singers makes a memorable impression.                  


Wisely, director Seta White does not encourage them to overact, not does she play for easy farcical laughs. Rather, she

creates a series of almost ritualistic tableaux with simple decor, richly detailed costumes, a procession around the theatre

 and surreal projections such as a moon that becomes a rolling eyeball.                                                                                


                                                                                                                                  Yehuda Shapiro - The Stage, UK





SAYAT NOVA - London Armenian Opera at the Questors Theatre, Ealing, October 20/21, 2017


Alexander Arutiunian's opera 'Sayat Nova' opens a window into the extraordinary world of  eponymous celebrated

18th century troubadour. In this opera facts are extracted from Sayat Nova's life with a healthy dose of artistic licence,

neatly composed to enable us to follow his journey. We move from the market place in Tbilisi. where he honed his craft,

to his days as a minstrel at the court of King Heraclius II, where he fell in love with the king's sister, Princess Anna, and

to the final years of his life as a monk at Haghpat Monasteryin Armenia. Arutiunian rather cleverly threads in seven of

Sayat Nova's songs to support the drama as it unfolds.                                                                                                    


Most of the music lovers were admirers of Sayat Nova and had come to the theatre with the intention of listening to

good music, particularly his songs. They got more than they bargained for. The soloists, all of whom are acclaimed

professionals, sang impeccably both individually and with the 21 member orchestra and 17 member chorus, masterfully

conducted by Levon Parikian. All combined in creating a mesmerising musical atmosphere. The audience tremendously

enjoyed outstanding performances by Berj Karazian, honoured artist of Armenia (Sayat Nova), Anaïs Heghoyan (Princess

Anna), Aris Nadirian (Ashugh and Prince), and Arshak Kuzikian (Bazarbashi and King). Shakeh Major Tchilingirian, an

outstanding choreographer and dancer, as in the past, on this occasion also delighted the audience with her beautiful

performance as the court dancer. The production designer, Natalia Sookias, earned the admiration of the audience for

creating impressive stage effects. It was the intention of the director, Seta White, to 'set the opera in a more contemporary

period'. We wholeheartedly congratulate the LAO for presenting a very high quality production, which won the hearts of

music and poetry lovers. Let us not forget that Sayat Nova, besides being a musician, was also a great poet.                    


                                                                                                                            Assadour Guzelian - writer, poet, editor 





FIRE RING - London Armenian Opera at the Arcola Theatre (Grimeborn Festival), July/August 2016


A compact, stylised piece, influenced by Brecht, Fire Ring by Avet Terterian (1929-94) is set on an island where         

 a young female soldier captures an enemy officer. Antagonism turns to love, but she finally shoots him when he         

                  spots his comrades arriving on a ship.  The central soprano and baritone are joined by an ensemble of four solo                       

voices and a chorus. For this performance, the orchestra was reduced to piano (the dauntless Kristina Arakelyan),   

flute, trumpet and percussion. The score, conducted by Richard Harker, moved freely between tonality and atonality.

While the instrumental writing made substantial use of repeated figures - with the ensemble singers also contributing

a wordless ostinato at one point - the writing for the two protagonists could be punchy, lyrical, folksy or melismatic.

The chorus, meanwhile, both sang and declaimed poems by Yeghishe Charents (1897 - 1937), who died in prison after

incurring the wrath of Stalin. Tightly and inventively directed by Seta White, with gracefully enigmatic interventions

by dancers, the whole fusion proved compelling. The soprano Tereza Gevorgyan as the girl and the baritone Aris

Nadirian (founder of London Armenian Opera) as the officer sang with subtlety and beauty as well as passion, while

the members of the vocal ensemble  - Tanya Hurst, Anaïs Heghoyan, Stephen Mills and Benjamin Beurklian-Carter -

rose confidently to their diverse challenges.                                                                                                                   


                                                                                                      Yehuda Shapiro - OPERA Magazine, October 2016





* * * London Armenian Opera: FIRE RING at Grimeborn Festival 2016                                                                    


                       The London Armenian Opera (LAO) presented Armenian mysticism and creative flair, encapsulating its influence                            

 from the story by B Lavrenev 'Forty First', a tale of love, war and revolution, and they weren't alone. Akhtamar         

                  Performance Group and a small ensemble, conducted by music director Richard Harker, thrilled audiences which                       

had them hanging off the edge of their seats.                                                                                                                          


Fire Ring expresses the bittersweet torment of a brave girl stuck on an island with the enemy. The opera captures the

unsettling and internal struggles of the girl performed by Tereza Gevorgyan who sang with authority and confidence

and was vocally charged with passion. Aris Nadirian, the officer from the other side, is a talented performer who has

a gift for the stage.                                                                                                                                                                   


Bass-Baritone Benjamin Beurklian-Carter, tenor Stephen Mills, mezzo Anaïs Heghoyan and soprano Tanya Hurst

created penetrative sounds that revealed the web of destruction stuck on the island. The orchestra, accompanied by

the instrument of voices from a talented cast of young opera singers, underlined the intimacy between the rival lovers.

The dancers were a visual splendour to the show, lightening the mood with soft, synchronised choreographies.         


                                                                                                                                     Mary G Nguyen - Trend FEM





DAVID BEK - London Armenian Opera at the Benjamin Theatre, Royal College of Music, December 18th 2015                      


South Kensington outdid Wexford with this opportunity to see not only an Armenian opera, but a first performance

outside the former Soviet Union.  Under Lévon Parikian's baton the score emerged as consistently appealing, at times

haunting, especially in the delicate opening to Act 2. No surtitles were provided, but the action unfolded clearly in     

  Seta White's straightforward, richly costumed production,  and the Armenian language - characterized  by plenty of      

  open vowels and fairly frequent gutturals -  seems to be sympathetic to a strong vocal line.                                             


There was finely-honed singing from the London-based baritone Aris Nadirian (the artistic director of London            

 Armenian Opera) in the title role, while the young, Royal College-trained mezzo Anaïs Heghoyan showed lyrical          

 promise as the Georgian princess Tamar. As the plaintive Shushan, the soprano Tereza Gevorgyan - familiar from       

 performances at the Royal Academy of Music - again proved her flair for finely- nuanced expression, and Tigran         

   Ohanyan, whose slightly throaty tenor rose to a thrusting top, made a dynamic impact as her lover, Shahumyan. He      

  was one of seven young male soloists visiting from Armenia - some of whom also supplemented the well-drilled amateur

 chorus. Grigor Abrahamyan, a baritone, made his mark as the treacherous Melik, and the bass Andranik Malkhasyan   

  intervened powerfully as the Catholicos, the Armenians' spiritual leader. Members of the Akhtamar Performance Group

responded with nimble grace to the dance music, with its frequent skipping shifts of metre.                                             


                                                                                                         Yehuda Shapiro - OPERA Magazine, March 2016





GARINEH - London Armenian Opera at the Tabernacle Theatre, Notting Hill, 29/30 March 2014                                   


   I hope you are still cruising on the clouds of success. YOU ARE ALL AMAZING!!!! Thank you for providing this level

of joy and happiness to all the audience who will speak of Garineh for years to come! I've received endless Facebook

messages, texts, emails and phone calls saying what a success it was! They especially love the chick peas at the interval.

a great touch!                                                                                                                                                                              

                                                                                                                                      Anaïs Heghoyan, opera singer



CONGRATULATIONS for the very good result of your so many months of hard work. The event was a real BIG

 SUCCESS and there are no words to express my thanks. We only saw smiles and happiness on the audience faces.


                                                                                                                                                Mariette Nazloomian



I just wanted to say very well done to everyone connected with 'Garineh'. Thank you for a wonderful evening, we

thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  We look forward to many more events.                                                                    

                                                                                                                                                         Vera Harland



I just wanted to say how wonderful was the whole production. My sincere congratulations. Well done. Look forward

 to the next one.                                                                                                                                                                          

                                                                                                                                       Dr Seta Boghossian-Tighe





ANOUSH - London Armenian Opera at the Tabernacle Theatre, Notting Hill, July & October 2012                             


"All present, Armenians and non-Armenians, were amazed at the professional performance of London Armenian   

      Opera, whose performance team combines the talents of young performers at the beginning of their career with those   

        of our local community enthusiasts. The performance mesmerised the audience with the beautiful voices of the singers,

the choral group, the accompanying orchestra, the dancers and the costumes. The Armenian community in the UK

is thirsty for such performances to enhance its cultural awareness and showcase it among the wider public".           


                                                                                                               Bishop V Hovhanessian, Primate of UK & Ireland



                                    "It was a combustion of talents, artistic ideas and creativity, and a combination of professional  musicians and music                                   

           lovers who came together to inspire the London Armenian community with this tragic love story. I was fortunate to attend

     the first performance of the opera with an audience buzzing in anticipation. The cosy atmosphere of the theatre created

      an immediate involvement with opera. The wonderful voices captivated us with the beautiful melodies and poetic words.

The chorus caught us almost off-guard as it presented us with the various surprises that were beautifully crafted and

spontaneous in execution."                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                Sarkis Zakarian, distinguished concert pianist  











St. Sarkis Charity Trust

Mr & Mrs Hagop Tanielian

Mr & Mrs David Stephan

Benlian Trust

Mr & Mrs Raffy Manoukian

Anahid Association

Ms Mariette & Mr Hovsep Nazloomian

Mrs Violette Tatevossian

H.E. & Mrs Armen Sarkissian

Mr & Mrs Zorik Gasparian

AGBU Trust London

Mrs Viola Uzunyan Choupak

Mr & Mrs Manas Heghoyan

Mr Aris Nadirian

Mrs Hrip Khasgalian

Mrs Ojik Brose

Mr Hamo Gregorian

Mr & Mrs Shahé Gulian

Nara Beauty Salon

Mr & Mrs Bagrat Nazarian

Mrs Loretta Shekerdemian

Mr & Mrs Raffi Tanielian

Mr & Mrs Boghos Boghossian

Mrs Annie Kasparian

Mr & Mrs John Torosyan

Mr & Mrs Kevork Cherchian

Mrs Sossie Roussidoue Aintablian

Mr & Mrs James Hartland

Tekeyan Trust

Mr & Mrs Mardig Harutyunian

Mrs Mareta Kazaryan

Dr Sonia Vartoukian

Mr & Mrs Adom Tenjoukian

Mr & Mrs Khachik Cholakian

Mr & Mrs Seroj Bazil

Mr & Mrs Armenag Topalian

Mr & Mrs Hagop Cherchian

Mr & Mrs Sarkis Kalaydjian

Mrs Zaza Balian

Mrs Jeanine Gulvanessian

Mrs Saida Odabashian

Mrs Anahid Corbett

Mr G Zartarian

Mrs Lucy Tajerian

Mrs Anna Manukyan

Mrs Suzy Boghossian

Mrs Gladys Boghossian

Mr Viken Haladjian

Mrs Rosette Ouzounian

Mrs Sossie Yerissians

Mr Setrak Shamlian

Mrs Hranoush Manoukian