This Week in Armenian History


Shara Dalian was an extraordinary singer of Armenian popular songs and opera, especially as an unsurpassed interpreter of the role of Saro in the famous opera “Anoush.”
He was born on July 16, 1893, in Tiflis (Tbilisi). His love for music was in his genes. The Dalian family was famous in the music realm; the great-grandfather of the future singer was the noted Ashough Kamali, his father the well-known Ashough Jamal, and one of his father’s close relatives was Ashough Sheram (Krikor Dalian). Shara Dalian studied in the Nersisian School of Tiflis from 1901-1913, while taking music classes from composer Grigor Suny and one of Gomidas Vartabed’s disciples, Spiridon Melikian. He started singing as a soloist in the school choir at the age of thirteen and presented his first solo concerts in Shulaver and Tiflis in 1911-1912.
His breakthrough came in 1912, at the age of nineteen, when he first interpreted the main role in Dikran Chuhajian’s operetta “Leblebiji Hor-Hor Agha,” and in the same year, when he took the central role of Saro in the premiere of Armen Tigranian’s opera “Anoush,” held in the composer’s birthplace, Alexandropol (currently Gyumri), in August 1912 with a resounding success.
The singer worked as teacher of singing and choirmaster in the Armenian school of Svyatoy Krest (currently Budyonnovsk) in the Northern Caucasus from 1913-1916, and he spent the following year studying at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, while singing as a soloist in the choir of the local Armenian church. The following year, Shara Dalian performed in many cities of Transcaucasia with the theater groups he created. He organized the group of opera and operetta of Alexandropol in 1923.
He moved to Yerevan in 1927, the same year he founded the folkloric group “Armenian Ashoughs,” and in 1936 he formed an ensemble of troubadour songs.
Shara Dalian was one of the creators of the Opera Theater of Yerevan, founded in 1933, and a soloist there for more than twenty years (1933-1954). He developed more than thirty roles along with Saro, including King Arshak (“Arshak II,” Tigran Chuhajian) and David Bek (“David Bek,” Armen Tigranian).
His career peaked with his interpretations of Armenian popular songs. He gave many concerts in Armenia and abroad, entitled “Night of Armenian Song.” Along with Mushegh Aghayan, he wrote down, compiled, and edited the first collections of songs of Sayat Nova (1946, 1963) and Ashough Jivani (1955) with musical notation.
Shara Dalian earned the title of Popular Artist of Armenia in 1939 and won the State Prize of the Soviet Union in 1946. He was a member of the Supreme Soviet (Council) of Armenia for many years. He gave his last recital in 1956 on occasion of the second, ten-day festival of Armenian art and literature at the Bolshoi Theater of Moscow. He passed away on November 7, 1965, in Yerevan. One of the music schools of Vanadzor, as well as streets in Gyumri and Yerevan, bear his name.
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