The National Opera and Ballet Academic Theatre named after A. Spendiaryan
Armenia’s main theatre
The Opera Theatre can be found at the heart of the Armenian Capital city of Yerevan. It is not simply a cultural structure, but also an architectural masterpiece, whose maker is world-renows Academician-architect Alexander Tamanyan. It is not coincidental at all that architect Tamanyan was honored the main prize in Paris in 1937, after having presented the Opera as his masterpiece. The theatre was founded during one of the worst periods of Armenian History. However, since the Armenian people had the will to have an Opera, they were ready to surmount all forms of difficulties and hardships. . It is from here that has risen rises every single of Armenia’s famous opera pieces, ballets, and colors from the stage. The newest cultural symbol of Armenia represents itself to us today in its complete form, with its classical beauty, grandiose stage, amphitheater with more than 1100 seats, as well as with its hallways.
The Opera of the Three “A”-s
The curtains of Armenia’s Opera Theatre first opened on January the 20th of 1933. The Armenian people has had a theatrical history dating two millennia, but it only had the opportunity to form musical-theatrical environment at the beginning of the 20th century. Along with the the “A”-s` “Almast”, “Anoush” and “Arshak II”,the theater also became the main driving force for emerging composers. Here is where is assembled the Armenian Musical life. It has become, for more than 80 years, the glory of our musical culture, and for the foreigners an opportunity to visit Armenia.
Tha Opera and Ballet Theatre, named after Alexander Spendiaryan, is the only one in the world that is determined to develop the art of Armenian opera and ballet. What confirmed this was Aram Khachaturyan’s presence with its “Spartak” ballet.
Currently the Opera is living the best times of its existence yet. Many world-renowned starts, creators of ballet can be found on stage. At the same time, Armenia’s stars of opera and ballet can also be found on various international stages, by presenting both Armenian and other well-known works and pieces. The proof lies in Aram Khachaturyan’s “Gayane” ballet brilliant presentation at the Marinskiy theatre in St. Petersburg, about which world-renowned ballet critics praise it with amazement.
Today Armenia’s Opera and Ballet Theatre is taking practical steps to enlarge its playlist of both Armenian and International opera and ballet masterpieces, with the goal of representing them on Armenian stage.
In 1927, the director of Yerevan’s State Conservatory A. Ter-Ghevondyan founds the first Opera Studio, which, composed of the choir, the symphonic orchestra and soloists, and in 1932, motivated by the founded studio, the Armenian Government decides and officially announces the founding of the Opera Theatre. It was opened on January 20th in 1933 with the A. Spendiaryan’s “Almast” opera’s presentation. With the initiation of composer Roman Melikian, for the first time in 1935, ArmenTigranyan’s “Anoush” Opera is played on stage.
From the first day of its foundation, Armenia’s National Opera theater’s creative staff became a prominent role in forming an environment based on theatrical and practical principles. And it is not coincidental that, having not completed its first decade of existence, the theatre already gained unprecedented success in Moscow` on stage of the Great Theatre, where for the first time during the Armenian Art and Literature Decameron was taking place in the Soviet Union, successful international and national classical plays and ballets, which were honered by official medals, awards and honors. The first one to be honored was Haykanush Danielyen, having been nominated People’s Artist of the USSR.
The Muscovite success was repreated in 1956 during the Second Armenian Art and Literature Decameron` this time being with the representation of the first National Opera “Arshak the Second”, which was already directed in 1945, accompanied by a young staff of musicians, composers, choir, with main composer being M. Tavrizyan.
It is worthy to remember the following composers as well: A.Katanyan, Yu. Davtyan, W.Charchoghlyan, M. Mkrtchyan, H. Terteryan, as well as soloists from the younger generation, M. Yerkat, E. Uzunyan, A. Karapetyan, E. Chakhoyan, M. Martirosyan and many many more.
The Armenian Opera’s Golden Age
During the second half of the 1930s, many Armenian operas and ballets were being played, such “Gayane”, “Nazar the Brave” etc. The opera was active from its founding days in representing the sector a large choice of musical, aesthetical and educational presentation by divulging the best works from different periods and styles ranging from Armenian, Russian, Western European, Classical, as well as contemporary composers. Many singers and dancers have, from generation to generation, have improved by themselves within the Opera theatre, from which many of them have become world-renowned and famous later on.
The Opera’s latest presentations’ birth was notable with the discovery of newer talents: TatevikSazandaryan` master of musical theatre, Pavel Lisitsian` benefactor in singing and directing, Nar Hovhannisyan` incomparable bass, and also MihranYerkat` vocally and artistically talented. The most notable star that shone on the Opera stage was Gohar Gasparyan and her talent, who with her unique voice and virtuous technique brought her to international fame.
The ballet group was enriched due to the talents and selfless contributions of Lyubov Voynovashikanyan, Rusudana Tavrizyan, Silva Minasyan, Vanush Khanamiryan. What was inherited by them was new talents, new voices, who performed well-known opera characters and were played by Gohar Galachyan, Arshavir Karapetyan, Serguei Danielyan, Anzhela Harutyunyan, Elvira Uzunyan and others. Later on they were followed by Olga Gabayan, Henrik Alaverdyan, Barsegh Tumanyan, Vahan Mirakyan, Susanna Martirosyan.
At the same time, ballet was enriched as well. Prominent figures who contributed to the improvement of ballet were Vilen Galstyan, Bella Hovnanyan, Juliet Kalantaryan, Elvira Mnatsakanyan, Rudolph Kharatyan and others.
During the Armenian Art and Literature second Decameron in 1956 in Moscow, after a huge success Armenia’s main Opera theatre was awarded the highest nomination of Academician.
During the summer of 1970, for one month straight, the theatre presented around 24 plays in Sochi.
In 1983 the Opera celebrated its 50th anniversary jubilee, during which was presented international classical and operas and ballets (around 186 presentation), which as a result led to being awardedthe deep respect of the population of the Armenian Republic.
New soars in the Opera Theatre
During the years 1990-1999, The Opera and Ballet National Academic Theatre aesthetical director TigranLevonyan directed a new series of operas, starting with the newly edited version of “Arshak the Second” by T. Chukhajyan, “Karine”, A. Tigranyan’s “Anoush”, R. Leonkovallo’s “mimes”, G. Verdi’s “Otello”, G. Donicetti’s “Poliuto”, which were later presented in Moscow, Spain, the United States and France.
Since 1999 Armenia’s Opera Theatre’s aesthetical principal was internationally well-known soloist GeghamGrigoryan, main composer being K. Durgaryan and director being K. Hovhannisyan.
On the same year, L. Minkus’ “Don Quixote” ballet was presented (composer V. Charchoghlyan), G. Verdi’s “Il Trovatore” (composer O. Duryan). During the later years other famous operas were played, such as V. Bellini’s “Norma”, G. Bizet’s “Carmen”, S. Rakhmaninov’s “Alecco”, T. Chukhajyan’s “Arshak the Second”, E. Hovhannisyan’s “Vartanank”, S. Piazzola’s “Tango”, A. Terteryan’s “Earthquake”, A. Khachaturyan’s “Spartak”, A. Tigranyan’s “Almast”, W. Mozart’s “Don Juan”.
The artists of Armenia’s Opera and Ballet Theatre were invited to Lebanon, Moscow, Thessaloniki, Istanbul, Cairo, Alexandria, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, St. Petersburg.
Today the traditions of the Opera Theatre continue with director Andranik Arzumanyan, Musical director and main conductor Karen Durgaryan, as well as main Ballet master Vilen Galstyan.
The Theater of New times.
The Opera and Ballet Academic Theatre named after A. Spendiaryan to this day continues to contribute to culture and art.
The Theatre had its unique place in the life of Armenian Society and works on protecting it for centuries to come. By having such a heritage that was left to us by our nation’s titans` the theatre today continues the ideology of delivering to the art-lover high culture and educate a new generation of art lovers, to whom this theatre would become a prominent location.
During the last few years, we can consider it to be a time of further improvement for the theatre. The “Gayane” ballet was presented in its best way in 2004 with the sketches of Minas Avetisyan which were later restored by the theatre principal artist Avetis Barseghyan, as well as by Narek Avetisyan, with the supervising of Narek Avetisyan, son of great artist Minas Avetisyan (director Vilen Galstyan, conductor Karen Durgaryan). The ballet was successfully presented in Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates. Famous stars were shining during the ballet, such as Zaven Harutyunyan, Maria Divanyan, Jacquelina Sarkhoshyan, Sona Arustamyan, Armen Gevorgyan, Karen Machkalyan, Levon Hambardzumyan.
During the first staging, a group of young soloists found their right place in the theatre,the most notable ones being Hasmik Torosyan, Gevorg Hakobyan, Perch Karazyan, Marine Deinyan, Christine Sahakyan, Lilith Soghomonyan, Nune Badalyan, Magda Mkrtchyan, Narine Ananikyan, Lilith Grigoryan, Lilith Hakobyan, Lianna Ghazaryan, Anna Mnatsakanyan, Artsvik Demurchyan, Suzanna Melkonyan, Poghos Beazbekyan, Hovhannes Ayvazyan, Sargis Aghamalyan, Davit Babayants, Hayk Tigranyan, Karo Khachatryan, Gurgen Baveyan.
During those years the theater welcomed invited soloists Hasmik Papyan (Austria), Emmi Papikyan (France), AlinGutan (Canada), Karo Nshanyan (USA), Hasmik Grigoryan (Lithuania), Gurgen Hovsepyan (Slovakia), Susanna Bagamyan (France), Tigran and Hayk Martirosyan, Barsegh Tumanyan, Vahan Mirakyan (Austria), Yuri Alekseyev (St. Petersburg), Juan Tarpinyan (Argentina) and soloists from Batumi’s Opera theater headed by Alexander Khomeriki, composers` Franz Vasserman (Germany), Richard Aslanyan (USA), Migel Ortegan (Spain), Vadim Shubladzen (Georgia), Carlos Viun (Argentina), Hayk Davtyan (France), V. Martines (Spain), Eduard Dyaduran (Moscow), Ballet Solo dancers Tigran Mikaelyan, Arsen Mehrabyan, Vahe Martirosyan (Swizterland), Davit Galstyan (France), Sona Kharatyan and Jonathan Jordan (USA).
The choir of the Opera and Ballet National Academic Theatre named after Al. Spendiaryan
The choir of the Opera and Ballet National Academic Theatre named after Al. Spendiaryan is the pride of the Armenian opera, richness in our traditions and the singing culture in the Opera’s history.
At the beginning of the 30s, the choir is founded by V. Nikolski, which was invited to Armenia. He puts the foundations of the choir which had profound correlations with Russian choir traditions. With the improvement of the Republic of Armenia, national traditions start forming with the newer composers. Armen Tigranyan’s Anush is played (1932), where huge scale performances do not cause any difficulty to the choir. The same can be said to one of the difficult performing operas, Bizet’s “Carmen” (1959).
The choir participated to more than 50 plays, to 3-7 premiers every year. Its presentations in Leningrad and Moscow keep the spectators amazed with their professionalism and high responsibility.
The choir presented Bellini’s “Norma” for the first in the Soviet Union, which accepted with many ovations. The efforts of great composers K. Karapetyan and R. Ayvazyan were not in vain, for they elevated the choir to a new level.
It is impossible to not mention the role of famous conductor of the Republic of Armenia Hovhannes Chekijyan, who, together with the cappella, performed “Arshak the Second” Opera.
During one century the Opera was cooperating with internationally known composers and directors such M. Tavrizyan, Yu. Davtyan, V. Sbivakov, F. Agutin, M. Wenteberg, K. Durgaryan, J. Pahlevanyan.
The playlist of the Opera is big, starting from Armenian, Russian and International plays to cantata and a cappella themed creation, which were always performed by the author’s language.
Today the choir is composed of 75 singers, and the young chamber choir of 21. The plans for the young choir are to perform works of Komitas, G. Gabrieli and K. Monteverdi. As for the entire choir the plan is to perform L. Van Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the conduction of J. Pahlevanyan.
Many Armenian contemporary composers have brought their presence to the theatre with plays such as Eduard Sadoyan’s “Gregory the Illuminator” opera and AshotBabayan’s “Spitak” theatrical symphony, as well as AvetTerteryan’s “Earthquake” (director` Levon Ivanyan, conductor` Ruben Asatryan) which was played with the request of the state, E. Hovhannisyan’s and A. Piazzola’s “Vartanank” and “Tango”. In 2010, Pergolez’s and Yo.S.Bach’s “Stabat Mater” and “Passions of Bach” were presented with the direction of Rudolph Kharatyan.
Yuri Grigorovich was invited for the enchanting “Spartak” Ballet (conductor Karen Durgaryan) as well as theatre masters Pavel Dmitrichenko, Anna Nikulina, Ekaterina Shipulina, VladimirNeborojni. Solo dancers Ruben Muradyan, Sevak Avetisyan, Narek Martirosyan, Armen Gevorgyan, Suzanna Piroumyan and Mary Hovhannisyan shone on stage as well.
Such plays once again prove that the theatre can successfully realize large-scale projects. That is being confirmed year by year, during the Republic’s holidays, celebration, with the participation of the theatre’s choir, symphonic music band, soloists, and the ballet actors.
Plays were directed y Irkin Gabitov from St. Petersburg (“Alecco”), GeorgiIsahakyan from Perm (“Almast”) and Irina Gachechiladze from Tbilisi (“Don Juan”)
Also, Tchaikovsky’s “Iolanta” and W.A. Mozart’s “Magic Flute” were realized by conductor Karen Durgaryan and Fakundo Agudini (Switzerland).
In order that the opera artist becomes reachable to the provinces of Armenia, plays were conducted in Gyumri, Spitak, Dilijan.
Currently, Giuzeppe Verdi’s “Aida” and Alexander Harutyunyan’s “Sayat Nova” Operas take an important place in the opera’s playlist, whose plays were realized by composers invited from Italy and Georgia, Mario Corradi and Gizo Jordania.
Armenia’s Main theatre in the new Millenium
The Opera theatre has, for many times, been present outside the borders of Armenia, on international stage, with the mission of making Armenian Classical Music known to the art lover and reaching new heights. During the last years the theatre has also reached to the provinces of Armenia.
Today, Armenia’s Opera and Ballet Theatre is living its advcancement period. Opera stars reaching international level, as well as famous ballet stars are now performing on Armenia’s stage. Armenia’s stars, in their turn, are from time to time found on international stages. The best proof is A. Khachaturyan’s “Gayane” ballet with its brilliant performance in St. Peterburg’sMarinyan theatre, where international ballet critics voiced their amazement. Armenia’s Opera and Ballet theatre is taking steps in order to expand its playlist by including other Armenian and non-Armenian operas and ballets to be presented
This center of classical art, next to being an opera and ballet theatre, has also contributed to the analplerosis of international creations, to the inter-transparency between musical artworks. It also became an educational institution for opera and ballet artists, it helped to give birth to national creations, it brought international recognition and glory to the Armenian song, dance and to our culture in general.
The theatre has given and continues to give values that are forever to be kept in our history. It has its place in the life of Armenian Society and will for sure work on protecting it by transmitting to the spectator high culture and by educating a new art loving generation, to whom the Opera theatre will become an important cultural institution.