Haroutounian began the program with a set of Italian songs, all of which were by Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti. She began with La Promessa, by Gioacchino Rossini, a very lively selection, followed by L'Invito, also by Rossini, and then Vincenzo Bellini's mellow Vaga Luna, and then Bellini's Dopo L'oscura nembo and Gaetano Donizetti's Me voglio fa'na casa. The Bel Canto mood of the first set, performed with exquisite phrasing and story-telling, made way for a surprise during the second set of Armenian folk songs, arranged by the one and only Komitas. I was pleased to recognize almost everything on her program, even the Armenian folk songs. Haroutounian’s execution of the Armenian folk songs portrayed the spirit of each song separately; some were playful, some heartbroken, and some were beautiful love confessions. Whatever the message, Haroutounian added her character and personality to each song.
The last set Haroutounian performed were opera arias. She completed the programmed concert with Ah, je ris de me voie si belle en ce miroir from Gounod's Faust, a very flirtatious and innocent aria filled with nuanced phrasing and acting. Haroutounian's performance of Poveri Fiori, from Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur, as well as her performance of Ecco respiro appena were both inspiring and driven from the very core. I found it impossible to look away from the stage, with both Haroutounian and Sanikidze working together to create such brilliantly sounding music.
Now, several encore pieces proceeded the last programmed piece. Lianna Haroutounian performed Ebben! Ne Andro Lontano from Catalani's La Wally, Gershwin's Summertime, and Dvorak's Songs My Mother Taught Me. Haroutounian also performed an Armenian Sharakan, but I unfortunately was unable to identify which one specifically. The encore pieces varied greatly in style and Haroutounian's performance of each, coming one after the other, was effortless.
The recital took the audience to another place, so to speak, and Haroutounian and Sanikidze created images with the music that were vibrant and memorable.