Arshak II Opera Committee Announces Honorary Chairmen for September Premiere

Editors Note: Due to an error in the translation of this article–the previous posting of this article contained innacurate information. Asbarez hereby retracts the previous version of this article–and reprints the article with the revised and corrected information.

The Organizing Committee of the Arshak II Opera Has Announced That Armenian President Robert Kocharian–His Holiness Karekin II–His Holiness Aram I–and California Governor Gray Davis will be the Honorary Chairmen of the Opera’s Premiere on September 8–2001

SAN FRANCISCO–The 1700th anniversary of Christianity in Armenia will be celebrated in grandeur when the world-renowned San Francisco Opera debuts Arshak II on September 8–2001. The Arshak II Committee has announced that the premiere’s Honorary Chairmen will be His Excellency Robert Kocharian–President of Armenia; His Holiness Karekin II–Catholicos of All Armenia’s; His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia; and The Honorable Gray Davis–Governor of California.

"We are very pleased that these international dignitaries will serve as our honorary chairmen," stated Dr. Julie Kulhanjian–co-chair of the Arshak II Committee. "We have come together because we all believe that the opera will be an unprecedented opportunity to showcase the rich cultural traditions of the Armenian nation."

Additionally–the roster of honored guests will include The Honorable Philip Angelides–Treasurer of the State of California; US Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein; Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi (San Francisco) and Anna Eschoo (San Jose); California State Senators John Burton and Jackie Speier (San Francisco); California State Assembly Majority Leader Kevin Shelley (San Francisco); and San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown. Distinguished artistic guests include Lucine Amara–Kallen Esperian–Ara Berberian–and Lili Chookasian.

"On behalf of the Arshak II Committee–we are honored and gratified that state and local elected officials have recognized the significance and historic proportions of staging an Armenian opera in San Francisco. Their swift and energetic responses to our invitation demonstrate the excitement surrounding this event," remarked Arshak II Committee Co-Chair Denise LaPointe.

Under the production leadership of Lotfi Mansouri and the artistic direction of Francesca Zambello–the epic tale of Arshak II will feature Armenian baritone Anooshah Golesorkhi and Christopher Robertson sharing the title role. Soprano Hasmik Papian will perform the role of Olympia–Armenian mezzo soprano Nora Gubisch and Mzia Nioradze will share the role of Paransema–and tenor Gordon Gletz will perform Valinace. Tigran Martirossian and Ayk Martirossian will perform the role of Nerses–with Knel performed by Philip Webb and Vartan by David Okerlund. Musicologist Haig Avakian and dramaturg Gerald Papasian have prepared a complete original version of Tigran Chukhadjian’s opera. Loris Tjeknavorian–conductor of the Armenian Philharmonic–will lead the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus in six performances scheduled from September 8-30–2001. The opera will be sung in Armenian with English supertitles.

Opening night of Arshak II will feature an elegant gala–whose proceeds will benefit the reconstruction of the Vanadzor Music School in the earthquake zone as well as other music programs in the Republic of Armenia. Set against the backdrop of the illustrious banquet scenes of fourth-century Armenia–the gala will consist of a pre-performance formal dinner and a post-performance party held in the historic San Francisco War Memorial Veteran’s Building next to the Opera House. General ticket information will be available after May 1–2001. Updated news and information on the Arshak II Committee’s activities can be found on the web site at

Project Founder Gerard Svazlian–a violinist with the San Francisco Opera orchestra–and the Arshak II Fundraising Committee spearheaded the project. It came to life in March 1999 after the Armenian-American community and its broad base of supporters raised $1 million to underwrite roughly one-third of the opera’s production expenses. The Arshak II Opera Committee has been formed to prepare and coordinate activities surrounding the opera’s opening weekend. For general information–please call (415) 249-9149.


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