By Lucy Ardash
BLOOMFIELD, Mich. — Wonderful music, comedy and satire delighted the audience at Michigan’s premiere screening of Dikran Tchouhadjian’s “Gariné” opera buffo at the capacity-filled auditorium of the Bloomfield Township Library on January 24. Sponsored by the Tekeyan Cultural Association, the highly-anticipated event was received with enthusiasm. Originally called “Leblebiji Hor Hor Agha,” the opera was created in 1875 in Turkish and later translated into Armenian and finally into Greek, French, Russian and German. The new adaptation was the massive undertaking of artistic director and actor, Gerald Papasian, who rewrote the entire libretto in Western Armenian and translated it into French and English for modern audiences. The stage production of “Gariné” premiered in Paris last year to great critical acclaim, the final dress rehearsal of which was filmed and completed with English subtitles.
Papasian, already well-known to Michigan theater goers, was on hand to outline the new story line. Also present was Dr. David DiChiera, general director of the Michigan Opera Theatre, with whom Papasian collaborated during the North American premiere of “Anoush” opera in 1981 and again in 2001.
Following the film, a gala afterglow reception at Hogan’s Restaurant enabled guests to toast Papasian on his accomplishments. Karen DiChiera, director of community programs of the Michigan Opera Theatre, congratulated Papasian on the modern version of the opera because of its international flavor and universal appeal. Papasian was visibly moved by the accolades accorded him and spoke briefly of the difficulties encountered since Tchouhadjian’s original score had been lost. He recently discovered orchestrated scores in Paris, which he pieced together and after researching various versions of the opera, Papasian was able to make revisions for a new script.