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World-famous Spanish singer’s first visit to Artsakh

She performed at London’s Covent Garden, Grand Opera in Paris, Vienna State Opera, La Scala. People gave her standing ovations at Kremlin Palace Concert Hall, White House, UN General Assembly hall, Beijing National Concert Hall. Her soprano made world’s most famous concert halls tremble. Even people who are not interested in opera have heard her name. Her name is Monserrat Caballe.

The stars are in the sky but some spread their shine on the Earth too. They are not many, but the whole world knows them. They are desired guests at every corner of the world. One of such stars – world-famous opera diva Montserrat Caballe has chosen Artsakh among all the spots on the map and arrived in Stepanakert ignoring the obstacles imposed on her way and desperate attempts of Azeri lobby to prevent her visit.  She is a mega star who is free to take any decision. Having coped with the difficulties of the long way the free singer arrived in free and independent Artsakh. The reception was also free and informal. Our traditional way of welcoming guests made the singer forget the hard road and even made her dance. By the way, the long road might as well not have been that tiring because of her wish to get acquainted with the landscapes of the mounainous state. The singer’s name is translated as ”a mountain range”. Therefore, Montserrat’s trip to the mountainous country sounds and looks quite harmonic.

Fans gathered at Stepanakert’s Vallex Garden Hotel and waited for the great soprano’s arrival for hours. And even the rain could not make them leave. The speaker of the National Assembly, Ashot Ghoulyan, greeted the guest.

Montserrat Caballe has the habit of carrying an album with her where she puts the photos of the views from her hotel rooms. We could not find out where she had brought the album to Artsakh but we could clearly observe that she was pleased to meet Artsakh Republic president on the second day of her visit. It was one of the key moments of her 2-day-long stay. The atmosphere of the president’s meeting with the great singer was very warm. Welcoming Montserrat Caballe on the Artsakh soil the president noted that she had a big army of fans here. In answer, the singer thanked him for such kind words. Speaking on common subjects M. Caballe told about her being a UN Honorary Ambassador  and Peace Ambassador since 1994 and Unesco Goodwill Ambassador. All these titles oblige her to embark on peacebuilding missions. Besides, she had heard a lot about Armenians and had friends among them whose invitation to visit their homeland she couldn’t refuse. One of the closest of these friends accompanied her during the whole trip.

Henzel Haroutyunyan, businessman

– Montserrat Caballe and I have known each other for already 7 years and like she said, she was hosted in Armenian families and shared meals with us. I have told her about our traditions. I told her about us being one of the most ancient nations, we were the first to adopt Christianity. She liked it and when Garegin Israyelyan invited her, she said, ”I already know one good Armenian family and I’d like to come to Armenia and Karabakh to see everything with my own eyes.

– So she knows Armenia and Armenians thanks to you.

– To tell the truth, yes. I am very proud that such a famous person knows and respects me. She has helped a lot. She is a great person and like we said, Montserrat Caballe is a living legend.

– How did you first meet?

– I was presented to her by Nikolai Baskov, who is like a member of our family. I had known Nikolai Baskov before and so he presented us as an Armenian family. This is how it started.

During the meeting the Head of the State stressed that the cooperation with famous artists would greatly contribute to the development of culture in Artsakh. Montserrat Caballe did not exclude a possible second visit to our country. This promise is based on a concrete offer. Minister of Culture and Youth Affairs of NKR specifies:

– It is surely a great honour for us and we truly appreciate Montserrat Caballe’s visit to Artsakh. It’s an honour and a big joy for us and I am sure it will definitely influence the development of culture in Artsakh and the country’s recognition.

Nothing can be excluded in life. And we ought to believe in miracles. As it is said, nothing is accidental in life. There are only regularities. And it was regular that in 1965 at New York’s Carnegie Hall the unknown Montserrat Caballe should substitute for the famous Marylin Horne who could not sing due to sickness. The audience unexpectedly applauded to new queen of the stage for about  20 minutes. This is how Montserrat Caballe’s famous career started. The most important lesson life has taught to her is summarized in these words: Nothing in life should be renounced. Life is the best University in the world. It would be difficult to forbid someone with this mentality to visit a certain place.

“It is worth coming to Artsakh to see one of the country’s sanctuaries.”, confessed the singer before setting off. At the monastic complex of Gandzasar she eagerly listened to Archbishop Pargev Martirosyan. And only her perfomance in Armenian could interrupt the talk – “Krunk” by Komitas.

  • How nice it was to be in these circumstances. – Մ. Կաբալյեի խոսքը անգլերենով

How well we are going to remember this meeting! And although we didn’t get the opportunity to enjoy the live performance of the master of bel canto, the visit itself was historic. It is difficult to overestimate the significance and esclusiveness of this event for us. The organizers underline its external influence.

Garik Israyelyan, project organizer

– I think first of all it’s going to pave the way for other singers, celebrities, scietists. They will see that there are no bombs exploding in Artsakh. Life goes on. They shall come and help the world realize what is happening here in reality. Artsakh is known mostly as a conflict zone. Yet we known it’s not true. Life is so peaceful here and it’s important to make it known to the world especially with the help of people like Montserrat Caballe.

The Head of the State partook in the farewell ceremony thus emphasizing the importance of the visit. The optimistic opera diva promised the president to come back. It is strongly believed that nothing on Earth happens by chance. A Catalan legend visits a small country striving for international recognition thus sending powerful messages to the world. Apolitical phenomena do not exclude the possiblity of becoming political.

The last stop is the magnificent church in Shoushi. These shootings will be used in the film that is going to tell about the visit. This little boy’s handmade guardian angel will ensure the great diva’s safe trip. Before bidding goodbye the singer and the minister of culture agree on discussing ways for artistic collaboration during the next visit. Montserrat Caballe was accompanied by her daughter, a well-known opera singer Monsterrat Marti. On June 9 they will give a joint concert at the Armenian National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet after Alexander Spendiaryan.

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