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CD96047 Spendiarov’s Almast, the forgotten treasure. Modern Record

CD96047 Spendiarov’s Almast, the forgotten treasure. Modern Record
CD96047 Spendiarov’s Almast, the forgotten treasure. Modern Record
Item# CD96047

Product Description

CD96047 Spendiarov’s Almast, the forgotten treasure. Modern Record Message to moderators: Has already been approved by moderator Daniel.

Last December I uploaded a faulty recording of Spendiarov's nearly forgotten masterpiece Almast. At the time it seemed to be the only version out there.

At last there is another one. At some point last month, to my surprise I stumbled upon the movie version of the opera. The film was made in 1983. It's fun to look at and has some glorious singing in it. In fact I found it to be relatively easily available for download on Russian language websites. Unfortunately all seemed to disallow downloads from outside of Russia. Well, actually one would allow me to download the film but in significantly inferior resolution. Trust me it took quite an effort to finally stumble upon some member of some outside shot of the website that allowed me to download version in reasonable resolution. I'm copying some of what I wrote in my previous posting here.

If there was ever an undeservingly overlooked opera – this must be the one. Is it a truly forgotten masterpiece? Perhaps not. Yet it is probably better then much of the opera that had actually "made it." The Novosibirsk performance that I uploaded earlier was of inferior quality albeit performance wise I still prefer it to this one. This one is not. It's a fully Armenian production, but sung in original Russian. Still, since it's a movie I suspect it is still not a fully complete version. So we still have something to look forward to. I hope one day someone would come up with the full version of this magnificent piece of the musical theater.

Almast is Armenian opera written to Russian libretto by Alexander Spendiarov (Spendiaryan) in 1923. Spendiarov didn't write much but apparently is so revered in Armenia that their National Opera Theater is named after him.

As for Almast… apparently initially the composer approached the author of the original Armenian text for the libretto but it somehow didn't work out so the original libretto was written in Russian. There is a great book about the opera's librettists Sophia Parnok, aka Russian Sappho written by Diana Burgin that discusses the fascinating history of the creation of the Almast in greater detail. Google almast spendiarov synopsis, it should be on the first page. The opera is very obscure. It describes an episode that took place during Armenian struggle against Iranians in the first half of the 18-th century. I couldn't find synopsis in English so here it is courtesy of yours truly. The plot is quite unusual in its political incorrectness, something which might have contributed to the opera's near oblivion.

The plot: Persians, led by Nadir Shah are laying a siege to the Armenian fortress of Tmkabert but its being valiantly defended by Armenian Prince Tatul. Losing faith in his ability to take the fortress by military means Nadir Shah decides to use cunning. He sends his council, Ashug, to see if he can lure Tatul's wife Almast with promises of his hand in marriage and thus a part of the Persian throne. Ashug secretly enters the fortress and tries to seduce Almast into betrayal by singing to her of mounts of gold, absolute power, glitz and glamor of Persia and the like.

In the evening Tatul throws a feast in honor of his earlier victories over Persians. During the festivities Almast calls on Tatul to go and conquer foreign lands and fetch them a crown. Tatul responds that he only raises his sword in defense of the motherland. That sways Almast. She gets Armenian garrison drunk and opens the gates to the Persians. Upon discovery of Almast's treachery her maid Gayane rushes to wake up Tatul and his good companerõ Ruben. But it's too late. Armenians are overmatched and the Persians take over the fortress. Prince Tatul is killed in battle but few including Ruben manage to escape.

Nadir Shah enters Tmkarbert. Almast bows to him but Nadir doesn't trust Almast believing that those who betray ones will betray again (Smart dude). Almast realizes that instead of the promised crown, the fate of the slave and the concubine awaits her. Enraged she tries to kill Nadir but instead is killed herself.

Composer died before finishing the opera which was completed by M. Shteinberg. The ending of the opera went through many changes. According to the composer's wishes at the end Almast was suppose to lunge in attempt to try to capture the Shah's blade so to kill him but instead is captured beforehand and taken away to be executed.

The alternative version sees Ruben recapturing the fortress and orders Almast's execution. One of the versions of the epilogue has mid-evil Armenian warriors singing praise to Lenin, Stalin and the grand USSR.

Almast is the only opera known to be written by Spendiarov and what a great opera it is! Beautiful arias, sparkling orchestral passages, hotly passionate duets and the duels between Persian and Armenian musical passages – Almast has it all. There is little doubt that after hearing Almast it became one of my personal favorites. In my opinion it is also heavily influenced by Tchaikovsky and Borodin. At times it almost felt like I was listening to Prince Igor II (Prince Igor Strikes Back!).

The cast is as follows:

Actors: Almast – Asmik Papian Tatul – Rudolf Kharatian Nadir Shah – Ovanes Divanian Gayane – R. Davtian Ashug – A.Vartanian Sheik (Shah's council) – R. Akopianz Court's jester – S. Abramian Orphan – R. Khachatrian

Directed by Tigran Levonian

Singers: Almast – Olga Gabaian (mezzo) Tatul – Arshavir Karapetian (baritone) Nadir Shah – Genrich Alaverdian (bass) Gayane – B. Papazian (mezzo) Ashug – G. Grigorian (tenor) Sheik (Shah's council) – O. Bastanjian (tenor) Court's jester – M. Davtian

Conducted by Yuri Davtian The Alexander Spendiarian Armenian Opera and Ballet National Academic Theatre.

Movie: Source – internet. .avi, 632MB + 639MB, 61:47min + 62:30min Dimentions: 640*480 Bitrate: 119kbps

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USA Telephone (404) 200-4776 We sell only opera recordings. The recordings are sent to you in paper sleeves with no tray card or inserts, just the raw discs with printed labels. These recordings are of nonprofessional quality that are in the public domain. The quality of these old opera recordings is not very good and they are meant for collectors and educational purposes only. Most of them are 30 or 40 years old, so they might be blurry, colors faded, and not sound very good, but they might not be available elsewhere. Please note that most of our recordings do not have tracks, they have 1 long track per disc.