Appeal to the Los Angeles Armenian Community

Following an impressive performance at the Shrine Auditorium–the Armenian National Opera had a demeaning finale of LA-area appearances last Sunday at the Wiltern Theatre–which included the cancellation of a much-anticipated performance by renowned singer Gohar Gasparian and three tenors.

Following their first appearance–the Opera performers and staff were faced with obstacles stemming from administrative and financial problems encountered by the host organizers of the tour. According to organizers–due to the administrative failures–severe financial losses were incurred–thus room & board costs and the performers’ per diem stipend were not paid. The situation escalated to a level that the more than 150 National Opera troupe members faced the possibility of eviction–and the absence of return tickets to Armenia–further exacerbated matters.

To reverse this humiliating situation–National Opera artistic director Tigran Levonian–during the Sunday’s ballet performance at the Wiltern Theatre–appealed to the audience by presenting a detailed account of their predicament and asking for financial assistance–in order for the troupe to secure return tickets to Armenia.

The stunned and dismayed audience members–each in their capacity–helped raise $13,000.

The cause of this humiliating situation can be found in the wave of cultural programs initiated by individuals and their attempts for amassing overnight fortunes through organizing artistic tours–the expenses for which often exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Such is the case with the National Opera. Based on what guarantees by the hosts have the directors of the National Opera agreed bring their troupe to Los Angeles? Have they only relied on their success? Should they not have taken into consideration the possibility of failure and thus demanded guarantees from the host organizers?

Unfortunately–the National Opera incident is not the sole case. Due to organizational deficiencies–several other such groups have been subjected to similar fates.

Our community is directly staggering under the financial burdens left by such tours only in the month of January. Many community members have taken part in these tours not for their artistic quality–but rather with the aim of assisting these entities.

The time has come to put such undertaking in order. It is imperative that in conjunction with Armenian consulate a group representing area cultural organizations is created to facilitate the schedules of visiting performers and to address the responsibilities of host organizers. Under the same principle–a similar structure must be created under the auspices of Armenia’s Ministry of Culture to manage the issue of invitations from Armenia.

Our community organizations could not remain indifferent to this unnerving incident related to the National Opera.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation Central Committee of the Western US–with all its organizational structures and in cooperation with the Armenian Consulate–is closely monitoring these developmen’s and calls on all organizations–supporters and the entire community to morally and financially support Armenia’s National Opera troupe and actively pursue the safe return of its members to Armenia.

ARF Western US Central Committee

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