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Opera gala time: Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra under Eduard Topchjan

Maestro Eduard Topchjan

The Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra, performing at the Aram Khachaturian Concert Hall, under the baton and artistic direction of Maestro Eduard Topchjan, never ceases to impress its summer audiences with the exceptionally entertaining and high-quality performances given. Featuring baritone David Babayants, soprano Ani Yorentz, tenor Liparit Avetisyan, soprano Hasmik Torosyan, bass Vazgen Gazaryan, and baritone Gianpiero Ruggeri, the Opera Gala produced an unforgettable effect upon the audience.
The program included selections from Leoncavallo, Gounod, Tchaikovsky, Mascagni, Puccini, Verdi, Mozart, Rossini, and Donizetti.

Dresses by Gevorg and Vartan Tarloyan (on either edge)
Hasmik Torosyan (second from viewer's right)
Ani Yorentz (second from viewer's left)
The spectacular gala opened with Gianpiero Ruggeri’s stunning performanc of Si puo? Si puo? Signore! Signori!, Tonio’s prologue from Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. Not only was the actual content of Tonio’s Prologue an ideal stage-warming number, it also manifested Ruggeri’s intriguing acting and smooth vocal production.

Ani Yorentz
Next on the program was Ani Yorentz, performing O Dieu que de Bijoux from Charles Gounod’s Faust. Yorentz portrayed Marguerite’s innocent excitement caused by her newly found love and devilish jewelry acquired from a box in the garden, accompanying it with beautiful vocals, especially on the staccati notes.

Liparit Avetisyan
Liparit Avetisyan came on next with the famous aria of Lensky from Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Kuda, Kuda, Kuda vi udalilis. In Pushkin’s novel in verse, poor Lensky undergoes an existential crisis the evening before his duel with his best friend Onegin. The main topic of this existential crisis happens to be the charming, young Olga, who was also the cause of the dual in the first place. Avetisyan portrayed the troubled young Lensky with much heart, keeping the audience intrigued by his emotional intonations and dynamics.

Next up was Vazgen Gazaryan, performing Gremin’s aria from Eugene Onegin. The feel of this aria served as a great contrast to the previously sung Kuda, Kuda, Kuda vi udalilis. Gazaryan’s rich timbre of voice and crispy diction outlined the character of Tatiana’s enthralled by her charms husband.

Mascagni’s Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana was performed next by the philharmonic orchestra, with long, soaring phrases and passionately executed dynamics.
David Babayants
David Babayants came onstage and performed Michele’s aria from Giocomo Puccini’s Il Tabarro. Babayants’ strong, penetrating voice carried through the concert hall and, in addition to his excellent vocal control, he exhibited the most rashest of emotions. (I would very much like to see Babayants as Puccini’s Scarpia!)
Gianpiero Ruggeri and Vazgen Gazaryan
The first half of the opera gala was concluded with a beautifully performed duet from Giuseppe Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra, Gianpiero Ruggeri as Simon Boccanegra and Vazgen Gazaryan as Fiesco. The dynamic duo excellently portrayed the stirring emotions and discomfort expressed in Verdi’s passionate music. Both singers were so much into their characters and the scene that the audience felt as if they, too, were participating actively in the reconciliation of Simon and Fiesco. Very moving performance that left the audience at the edge of their seats.

The second half of the Opera Gala began with the orchestra’s performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s overture to Don Giovanni. The ominous opening chords shook the audience back to their senses and prepared them for the second half of the concert.

Vazgen Gazaryan came on next and performed Leporello’s hilariously cruel aria Madamina, il catalogo è questo from Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Gazaryan did a superb job at immediately catching the audience’s attention with his acute story telling and hand gesticulations. His voice portrayed all the various moods (I mean different women) that Mozart’s music implies. His artistic skills definitely came out the most in this number, as he added extra sounds like sighs and groans, but voi sapete quel che fa. Overall, very funny and Mozart-esque!
Hasmik Torosyan as Musetta from Puccini's La Boheme
Hasmik Torosyan was next, performing È strano... A fors'é lui...Sempre libera from Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata. Torosyan’s extremely versatile voice was beautiful for Violetta’s Aria. Torosyan executed the coloratura runs with graceful ease, while still producing heavy and rich tones in sections where they were called for. This really helped Torosyan’s portrayal of the tormented Violetta, and the mixed feelings and illusions that she experiences in this aria.

After Torosyan’s awe-inspiring performance, the philharmonic orchestra performed Gioacchino Rossini’s overture to Il Barbiere di Siviglia. This performance served as a mood-switch, urging the audience to brighten up again after the exhilarating Verdi.
Gianpiero Ruggeri
Gianpiero Ruggeri came on next, for the last time that evening, to perform the all-time favorite Figaro’s Cavatina from Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Ruggeri came onstage after the music had already begun and mesmerized the audience with his energetic performance and excellent communication, both signature traits of Figaro! Throughout the performance, Ruggeri consistently pointed at various audience and orchestra members, and offered them a haircut. Ruggeri even had props hidden away in his pockets, which he revealed towards the middle of the performance.

Liparit Avestisyan then performed Nemorino’s morbid aria Una furtiva lagrima from Gaetano Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’amore. An exquisite masterpiece in itself, Nemorino’s Romance never fails to bring tears into the listener’s eyes, and Avestisyan’s earnest performance did just that.
Liparit Avetisyan, Maestro Eduard Topchjan,
and Ani Yorentz
The pseudo-last number on the program was Adina’s and Nemorino’s  duet from L’Elisir d’amore, performed by Ani Yorentz and Liparit Avetisyan. The duet, funny and filled with unexpected violence, was hilariously put together. Yorentz as the enraged Adina and Avetisyan as the partially drunk and lovesick Nemorino concluded the official program with a strong bang, not with a whimper.

As an encore, Ani Yorentz and Liparit Avetisyan performed Merry Widow Waltz by Franz Lehàr. This duet was a beautiful conclusion to a lovely gala concert.

Please stay around for my article on La Boheme with the same beautiful cast, Eduard Topchjan conducting, and absolutely gorgeous constumes by designers Gevorg and Vartan Tarloyan!

DISCLAIMER: None of the photos above were taken by me or belong to me. I took them from the performers' official social media pages, as well as stage director Sukias Torosyan's social media.


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