By Natalie Teperdjian
YEREVAN — In 2016, when Constantine Orbelian received the call from Armenia asking him to become artistic director of the Yerevan Opera House, no one could have imagined that epic changes were on the horizon. Two years on and under the guidance of Orbelian, this landmark institution has begun to write a new chapter in its history and embarked on its first international tour in 25 years. (See https://mirrorspectator.com/2017/06/08/constantine-orbelian-back-in-the-sort-of-ussr/)
For 85 years the Armenian National Opera and Orchestra has played an iconic role in the Armenian narrative. Historically significant opera, ballet, orchestral, dance and other creative performances have been brought to life, and its building in the heart of Yerevan serves as the epicentre of the city’s vibrant street and even political culture. But despite all this, in the last 17 years the Opera has only produced 8 new opera productions, 4 of which never made it far beyond the opening night. Financial constraints, lack of support and political unrest all contributed to this dearth of productivity. But the arrival of Orbelian has started to change all this.
In his brief time with the Opera, Orbelian, an internationally acclaimed pianist and conductor, has injected new life into the Opera. “I came here to support a national treasure,” said Orbelian. “We have so much untapped potential within the Opera and across Armenia. Before the end of the year we will have 6 new opera and ballet productions on stage, more than was launched in the last 17 years combined.”
This new vitality has already manifested significant results with the Opera embarking on its first international tour in almost 25 years. Masterfully bringing to life Bizet’s “Carmen” and Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” to packed audiences at the beautiful and acoustically excellent Dubai Opera House in the UAE who were witnessing the first-ever performance of either in the country. Two hundred performers, Tech crew, a costume team, full orchestra, Opera chorus, children’s chorus, conductor and directors travelled from Yerevan to Dubai.
Later this month the Opera will continue its international tour when they open the new Kuwait Opera House located on the compounds of The Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Center with the new production of the Magic Flute and orchestral selections marking a significant first for both the Opera and Kuwait. The Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Center, informally known as the Kuwait Opera House, is a prominent cultural center in Kuwait, located on the Gulf Road in the capital Kuwait City. It is the largest cultural center and opera house in the Middle East.