is the art of opera in Armenia or opera by Armenian composers. The
founder of the Armenian operatic tradition was Tigran Chukhadjian
(1837-98), who was born in Constantinople in the Ottoman Empire and
received his musical education in Milan, where he became a great admirer
of Verdi. He was a political and musical nationalist who mixed Western
and Armenian influences in his work. His Arshak Erkrord is regarded as
the first Armenian opera. It was written in 1868 but had to wait until
1945 for a full staging. The libretto, by Tovmas Terzian, is based on
the life of the 4th century king Arshak II. Chukhadjian's other operas
include Arifi khardakhutyune (The Government Inspector, based on the
play by Gogol, 1872); Zemire (1891), which was written in Turkish and
premiered in Constantinople; as well as Kyose Kyokhva ("The Balding
Elder"), Lelebidj ("The Pea Seller") and Indiana.
The next important composer of Armenian
opera was Armen Tigran Tigranian (1878-1950) who lived in Russian
Armenia and the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. He wrote Anush, set
in the Armenian countryside, in 1912 but it had to wait until 1935 for
its full professional staging at the Yerevan State National Opera.
It made heavy use of folk music as did Tigranyan's last opera, David Bek
(1950). Based on the life of the eponymous national hero and set in the
18th century, it depicts the struggle between Armenians and Safavid
Persians. Other leading Armenian opera composers include Alexander
Spendiaryan and Haro Stepanian.