DETROIT — On the evening of February 11, as a part of their on-going series of regular cultural events for the area Armenian community, the Detroit Chapter of the Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) presented an evening with actor/director Gerald Papasian called “Discovery and Revival of a Forgotten Opera,” on his latest project, the story of Dikran Tchouhadjian’s operetta “Garine.”
“Garine” (also known as “Leblebidji Hor Hor Agha”) was a huge hit when it was created in Constantinople in the 1870s. Tchouhadjian’s (1837-98) talent was to intermix Oriental flavors with western ones.
Cairo-born Papasian, now a resident of Paris, has dedicated himself to unearthing and promoting Armenian cultural icons to the world. Frequently he has to be a sleuth, going to great lengths to find scores that have been lost or misplaced. This was how he brought Tchouhadjian’s “Garine” to life again.
Papasian revised “Garine” from the original to be more palatable for modern audiences. In his version Garine is an actress and falls in love with Armen when he returns from studies in Venice to form the performing company of which she is a member. Instead of a poor chickpea vendor, her father is a wealthy man who does not want her to be in the theater.
Gustavo Dudamel must conduct, Lang Lang has immense passion as a pianist, Arshile Gorky lived to paint and Gerald Papasian breathes to act and direct in the theater.
Confirming this fact is Papasian’s proud mother, area resident Nora Azadian, who recognized her son’s talent for dramatics at a very young age. Azadian too has that same theatrical flare, frequently appearing with her trademark selection of artfully wrapped scarves, très chic.