A Papasian Production that makes you proud of being an Armenian

Professor Hovhanness I. Pilikian

(Exploring the socio-Political Context of the First Ottoman Turkish Opera Composed by an Armenian)

By Professor Hovhanness I. Pilikian

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Editorial Note Hot from the press, Professor Pilikian’s this article is the most astounding yet, and that is saying something! Full of rich historical detail, spanning many centuries, integrating the ancient, the old and the new of our lives, the Professor is uniquely able to display historical continuities through the cement of the Armenian presence throughout millennia … in a language that is accessible, and free of academic jargon.

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Gerald Papasian

Gerald Papasian hails from Paris, an Armenian man-of-the-theatre, who acts and directs with some panache Gariné, the opéra-comique by Dikran Tchoukhadjian (1837-98), at the Arcola Theatre, in Dalston, London. I was particularly glad to catch its last evening performance, on the 15th (August, 2015), as I had seen his smooth production of the same on the Internet (Highlights) with French actors

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2fXdyyB7rA

Tchoukhadjian undoubtedly was the creator of Opera in Turkey – the very first composer of opera-music, and Hor-Hor Ağa seems to have been his first opera, hence the first opera in Ottoman Turkish.

Dikran Tchoukhadjian (1837-98)

Few people have appreciated the historical fact that the Ottoman Empire was multi-ethnic, with a healthy lack, almost a complete absence of disgusting racist nationalism which resulted in the genocide of the Armenians in 1915 by the Young Turks, and plunged Turkey into the mire of cancerous ultra-nationalist barbarism, under which the poor Turkish people are suffering still, surrounded with endless-seeming civil wars in our own days, produced by infective nationalist-racism, deliberately fanned by Western (American-British) imperialism.

The First Ottoman Turkish Opera by an Armenian


Most of the Ottoman Sultans had multi-ethnic Christian parentage, married to European Christian wives and numberless concubines filling their harems.

Sultan Selim III (1761-1808), of a Georgian-Armenian mother, was a great patron of the Arts.  A poet and a composer himself, with highly civilized tastes, he introduced to his Court the Armenian musician Baba Hampartsoum Limondjian (1768-1839).  While in today’s Turkey acknowledging the Armenian parentage of the great Ottoman architect Sinan (1489-1588) is a punishable state-crime, Sultan Selim received Baba Hampartsoum in his court with great honours and commissioned him to develop a system of musical notation, with the avowed noble intention to record and save the classical Ottoman repertoire of music for posterity.  Limondjian could spend two years (1813-5) comfortably working on the project in competition with Abdulbaki Nasir Dede, who also created his own system.  And Sultan Selim did not cut off Limondjian’s head, instead, he selected Limondjian’s system of musical notation, which is still in use today in Turkey.

1870-ական թվականներին Լեյբլեբիջի օպերետը կատարող խումբը։ Photos by hy.wikipedia.org

{Baba Hampartsoum’s Armenian patron was Hovhanness ʕelebi Dűzian, no less than the Director of the Ottoman Imperial Mint…  A super little book just published – ISBN 978-9953-0-3224-5 – by the Londoner, Dr. Hratch Kouyoumjian, lists the names of the Ethnic Armenian Civil Servants in leadership positions running the Ottoman Empire as late as in 1909, with some fascinating givens; the chief… pharmacist of the Central Prison was one Efendi Khatchig Kivosian; The First Inspector of Alcoholic Drinks and… Hunting was Mihran Efendi Yerazian; The Supervisor of Turkish Language Exams Bureau was Vosgian Efendi etc. etc.}

In 1797, Sultan Selim had invited a European (perhaps French) opera company to give perhaps a single performance in his harem in Istanbul – the very first opera presentation in the Ottoman Empire.

Thus, the miracle of Tchoukhadjian was that he created opera out of literally nothing, and at its highest level.  The composer’s own Turkish title of the Opera was Leblebidji Hor-Hor Agha (1875), not Gariné, clearly labelled on the title-page of the score (and on posters, survived) as an opéra comique, which clearly defines already the essential features of the music-genre, later obliterated by the romantic nationalist fools of Soviet Armenian cultural élite, altering ironically (due to musical historical illiteracy) the subtle Mozartean type of call-to-revolution against the ruling classes (camouflaged in the complicated plot-lines) – the Aristocracy in Mozart, and the Bourgeoisie in the Ottoman Empire.

Unfortunately in this context, even Mozart’s bitingly satirical revolutionary ardour is not yet appropriately evaluated in musicology – carried away by the beauty of his music and the wealth of his melodies people forget to notice the massive political implications of his entangled plots – Leporello (for example), the servant of Don Giovanni (the landed Aristocrat in the opera of his name, 1787, in Italian) makes a total fool of his Lord, representing the useless, pointless sex-obsessed class of idle perverts, aristocrats who have too much time on their hands, and have nothing else to do but fantasize sexually – their use of women is truly an abuse of  the woman-kind, used as a tool for their masturbatory fantasies, and not a genuine loving appreciation of the individual female involved.  Bed-hopping, usually with the lower classes who have no defence against them, is their impotent violent hobby; violent, even murderous – Don Giovanni kills one of his many lover’s father, once a military commander, trying to protect the virginal honour of his daughter – precisely like Hor-hor Aga, an ex-janissary commander, desperate to guard his daughter’s virgin-honour!  Hor-hor does not “detest the theatre” per se, as written up in the programme-leaflet, but the lack of honesty, deception, and sexual licence of the people who administer it – not much changed there since the old days.

Mozart’s highly original invention – the killed Commendatore comes alive in the form of the … marble Statue on his grave, as a dinner guest invited (personally in the cemetery) by the arrogantly fearless aristocrat, and the loving father drags the Don down (with his palace – signifying the whole system of the Aristocratic social order) into the fires of hell and eternal damnation, where the whole of his ruling class belongs!   This indeed is the true camouflaged message of Mozart’s own … Marxist Revolution, entirely unobserved by the so-said Mozart-experts.

And yet incredibly, Tchoukhadjian, hardly half a century later, seems to have grasped this nature of Mozart’s music by the horns.  Tchoukhadjian’s plot is as complicated as Mozart’s, even messier, more complicated than the one in (say) Die Entfűhrung aus dem Serail (by Mozart, in German = The Abduction from the Seraglio), where there is also a Chorus of Turkish Janissaries (“singt dem  grossen Bassa Lieder” = Sings the big Base Songs, a parallel for the Chorus of the Leblebidji ex-janissaries) with a lot of shenanigans, coming and going out of the Harem, with plenty of occasions for rude and crude vulgar eroticism – belly dancing, commedia dell’arte gesticulation etc.

To sum up Tchoukhadjian’s plot, very briefly; an opera-theatre is being set up for a sumptuous production (symbolizing high art – the private domain of the Ottoman Aristocracy).  The Soprano absconds, but lo and behold, out of the blue, an angelic virgin appears, the daughter of a chick-pea seller, who in turn is trying to hunt for her, his own lost daughter named Gariné!  What follows are endless excuses for erotic incidents of drunken behaviour, harem belly-dancing, dagger-and-dog fights etc.

The original libretto in Turkish is lost – what we have is a mangled Soviet Armenian hash of it, entirely unreliable.  I shall explain how, as I unpack for the first time ever the gems still preserved even in the title… The composer Tchoukhadjian knew well what he was doing, which alas, his first Soviet Armenian romantic interpreters did not.

Let us begin at the very beginning, with the title, Leblebidji Hor-Hor Ağa –The original name of the opera has remained a puzzle hitherto, and yet it contains a wealth of material buried within it, which can be mined for a proper understanding of the missing libretto.  It is the golden key that opens an Aladdin’s cave of complex semantic and musical significances.

Note that the name is of 3 sections;

(1) Leblebidji provides the hero’s profession – leblebi = chick-pea, -dji is a Turkish suffix, signifying a person’s daily occupational involvement – in this case, a dealer concerning all matters to do with leblebi – buying/selling it, grooming it (washing, cleaning, sorting, as there are several kinds of it) etc.  He is thus not a mere seller, but a true trader, a business-man with a shop, using free or tuppence child-labour, selling his chick-peas in street corners everywhere.

(2) Hor-hor is the first (and possibly the only) name of this tradesman, which suggests that it is actually a nickname – a natural imitative sound-effect = khor-khor = khrr-khrr in Turkish/Armenian, and refers to

(a)  Snoring = being a sleepy-head, to which character-trait there are certainly many references in the plot-line about the chick-pea seller falling asleep, or being made to sleep through wine, and erotic semi-naked belly-dancers, and

(b) The reference also goes to his flatulence, gas-pains, a rumbling stomach full of farts – the Chick-Pea Seller’s name would thus satirically mean The Farting Lord or the Lord of Farts, abbreviated to Lord Fart, further complicated by the seller’s profession, because

(c)  The Chick-pea (a very nutritious seed) has a sophisticated, layered use in Byzantine / Ottoman / Armenian food-culture; several versions (like musical variations) are produced from the basic seed – fried with salt, it loses its natural skin, turns attractive yellow with black-burnt spots and is eaten universally throughout the day as a staple cheap food for the poverty stricken masses – imported by London rip-off merchants, it becomes a luxury item, an expensive delicatessen!  It needs no further dressage, is eaten like peanuts.  Raw, the chick-pea is softened by boiling, then crushed into a paste and mixed with tahini (paste of crushed sesame seeds) in virgin olive-oil becomes the most delicious nutritious humous, another cheap staple diet for the masses even today among the London Turkish/Kurdish communities.

Unfortunately, again, the side-effect is a gassy Hor-hor khrr-khrr flatulent belly, reinforcing the semantic-musical significance of the Base-baritone lead as the Lord of Farts, the most important, vital commander ( = Agha) of the hungry masses with khrr-khrr tummies …

The Commedia dell’arte humour, the main ingredient of the Comic Opera, was scatological, not just a camp game of wits for its own sake, but because it reflected real life; lacking food hygiene in medieval times, the “rotten” food the lower classes accessed, and the “rich” food the Aristocrats consumed, made populations everywhere overall gassy – half-empty rumbling bellies full of farts, although for opposite economic reasons.  In Ottoman Turkey, moreover, they had to enjoy belly-dancers with belly-aches farting anywhere, from the Sultan’s harem to the mayhanes (the drinking places) of the poor.

(3) The third part of the opera-title is Hor-hor’s exclusive honorific title; Typical of all empires, the Ottomans used an enormous number of silly titles to feed the vanity of their hierarchically obsessed ruling class; Pasha, Hoca, Effendi, Bey, Vali, Vizier, Hanim, Mufti, Alim, Mullah Etc.

Agha was a military title exclusive to the Janissaries, be they active or retired, signifying commander (Mozart’s commendatore), appropriate in Tchoukhadjian’s opera for the revolutionary attempt of the chick-pea seller to affect a coup d’état with his mates formed into a gang.

Tchoukhadjian thus displayed inventiveness, bravura, and an extraordinary revolutionary courage to place the lowest social class of the Leblebidji-s right in the heart-centre of Life itself in Ottoman Istanbul (as the producer of the staple food of the masses – and to think that such a point would not be understood in a Soviet Armenia!); thank god the Ottoman audience was too illiterate to appreciate Tchoukhadjian’s subtleties, otherwise, he could have lost his head on a Silver platter gifted to the Sultan by his Grand Vizier (the Prime-Minister).

And there’s the rub; The Turks were barbaric Turkic hordes, from the steppes of Central Asia, murdering and plundering their way into Europe via Byzantium, continuing the tradition they had inherited from Genghis Khan and his nomads – their ancestors.  While Genghis and his hordes used to do their plunder seasonally, destroying everything in their wake, and then returning to their dens in Mongolia – I am aware that a Mongolian oligarch of the Russian category, a man of billions and billions of pounds is trying to whitewash and civilize the Genghis-image as a national hero, and we shall be fools in Europe to be bribed by it – the destructive derivatives of Genghis set their ambitions higher and wished to rob the riches of Europe on a permanent basis, by bleeding the heart of the civilized world then, Byzantium itself, marked finally by the fall of the city of Constantinople itself in 1453.

A Failed Document of True Civilization

One Turk, called Osman (1258-1326), born in Anatolia – ancient Armenia –  excited by the centuries of Byzantine refinement wished to go further and civilize his followers (easier said than done!), by founding a dynasty, that remarkably lasted for 600 years as the Ottoman Empire (until its dissolution in 1922, by the declaration of the Republic of Turkey, in 1923).

It takes millennia to construct a civilization, and with our own Western modern technology and the arms-trade, just a few days to destroy all, as the civilized American and British governments achieved attacking Iraq, Syria, Libya, turning ancient countries to dusty rubbles today!

Osman, the progenitor of the Ottomans, in his last Testament to his son Orhan Ghazi, instructed him to

avoid cruelty and superstition … Remove from the state those who encourage cruelty and superstition …. Widening justice and virtue to the whole world… scholars, virtuous men, artists, literary men constitute the power of a state … honour these men, treat them with kindness… Depend on God’s help to achieve justice and fairness, and remove cruelty from the world

http://www.osmanli700.gen.tr/english/sultans/01index.html

{My own translation of a glorious document of civilized culture indeed, unique in history – The ancient so-said civilizations of the Maya and the Inca, and the Chinese had produced no such document – translated unfortunately into ghastly English on the website above!)

There can be absolutely no doubt that the progenitor of the Ottomans wished to construct a civilization, and would have disowned in eternal shame the genociders of the Armenians (the blood-thirsty pack of hyenas led by Talaat, Enver, Djemal Pashas) carrying his name as Osmanli Turks.

The Armenian Contribution to the Byzantine Empire – Politics and Culture, All

Osman, born amidst the Armeno-Byzantine culture of Anatolia, wished to adopt and adapt it for his own people.  He would be fully aware of yet another absolute historical fact forgotten now but alive and vibrant during Osman’s own lifetime – the Armenian legacy in the Byzantine Empire, which Osman’s progeny was to destroy by the destruction of Byzantium.

The most important Byzantine Emperor, who brought about the Golden Age of Byzantine culture, was Basil the First (811-886 AD), who founded a Dynasty, that lasted almost 200 years (from 867 to 1056).   He was a Law-giver, collected in 60 books, called Basilika (= Royal Matters, from the classical Greek word Basileos = King) that governed Byzantium until its fall to the barbarians.  During Basil’s own reign of 19 years, an official genealogy of the Emperor was recorded documenting his birth as a descendant of the Arshakouni (in Greek, the Arsacid) Kings of Armenia – the eminent British historian John Julius Norwich goes as far as confirming that Basil, in spite of his Greek name, was actually a native speaker of Armenian, and spoke Greek with a heavy accent!

If you wish to find out the Armenian names of over 20 Byzantine emperors, visit

http://www.peopleofar.com/2011/10/24/armenians-of-byzantium-part-1/

Procopius, the Roman Historian, records that the Byzantine Palace Guards called Scholari protecting the Emperor’s family “were selected from amongst the bravest Armenians”, who had contributed a contingent of around 150.000 highly trained soldiers to the overall Byzantine army, where one of its early generals Nersess shined brilliantly – Nersess is an Armenian name still in use today (an architect friend of mine in London is called Nersess!)

The contemporary Byzantines themselves considered Basil the I-st as their greatest emperor, and his dynasty reigning over the most glorious era of the Empire.  The cultural renaissance Basil initiated, which undoubtedly went into the boiling pot of the later Italian Renaissancethe cradle of our modern culture and modernity – was led by three of the most educated men in Byzantium; Patriarch Photius,  John the Grammarian, and the Philosopher Leoall three of them Armenians indeed!!

Heraclius the Elder, the Exarch (Governor) of Africa, was an Armenian-Roman general, who distinguished himself in the wars against the Sassanid Persians (580s).  As a result, he was given the post in Africa (in 600 AD) reaching Carthage, the most important port-city conquered by the Romans, the hub of their life-and-death grain trade in the Mediterranean.  His son became Heraclius I, Byzantine Emperor (ruled from 610- 641 AD), and founder of a dynasty that continued to rule Byzantium for a century.  He drove the Persians out of Asia Minor completely by 627, by the Battle of Nineveh (today the second city of Iraq, named Mosul, alas occupied by the pseudo-Muslim lunatics of ISIS).   Emperor Heraclius boldly changed the official language of the Eastern Roman empire from Latin to Greek – pity not Armenian!

The First occurrence and record of AIDS Four centuries ago

Sultan Murad I (1326-89), whose mother was… Greek, a Byzantine princess, and he himself was married to some wives, one a daughter of a Byzantine emperor, and another the daughter of the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Alexander, transformed Osman’s tribal territory into an empire, conquering most of the Balkans (Rumelia) and the whole of Anatolia.   He even invented the title of Sultan in 1383.  He was assassinated in his tent, in the evening after the Battle of Kosovo.  I bet he had not read Osman’s Testament (above), for his sons were as murderous as their Father – he had two sons, Bayazid and Yakub, who was invited by his brother to the father’s tent in the battlefield, and was… strangled, just like that, leaving the Sultanate to his brother Bayazid, who naturally was delighted to take over!

The honour of creating the blood-dripping system of Devşirme (= collection) went also to their father, Murad I – inhumanly, the latter considered it as a legitimate blood-tax or tribute in blood, initiating one of the most disgusting, heinous and genocidal institutions of the Ottoman Empire, entirely contrary to Islamic law, and the last will and testament of his ancestor Osman – every 4 to 5 years, the Ottoman military would go to the Balkan and Anatolian villages, precisely targeting generally the Christian, and specifically the Armenian children, 6 to 10 years old, tearing them from their families, collecting them like so many lambs in a pigsty, raping them sexually, to manufacture the most ruthless military order called Yeniϛeri (Janissaries, in English) from emotionally and physically abused children – by 1650s, more than 50 thousand janissaries lived as out-and-out  homosexuals.

The Polish musician and linguist Wojciech Bobowski (1610-75) – named Ali Ufki after conversion to Islam, has preserved a most stunning historical information, which I suggest is the first occurrence of … AIDS – he wrote (as Albertus Bobovius) in 1686 that “diseases” (in plural) were common among the homosexual Devşirme (turned into adult Yeniϛeri).

Running parallel to the Devşirme system, was the institution of the kőϛek – again recruited from Christian, specifically Armenian parents – aged 7/8, the most handsome among the male children were snatched, but really homosexually abused, and trained further for another six years as dancers, selected specifically for passive-feminine homosexual intercourse, cross-dressed in brightly coloured female attire, were employed as harem-entertainers, patronized by the Sultans, usually as belly-dancers.  They even achieved stardom – at least 50 superstars (one of them Kűϛűk Afet was known also by his Armenian name, as Kaspar).  Later, as their popularity increased, they were employed to celebrate family circumcisions, and in meyhane = taverns (but really male brothels – the great British poet Lord Byron is known to have visited one), driving the male-drinkers wild with their lascivious finger-gestures, causing violent fights among the rabble, often ending in murder. Famous Ottoman homosexual poets and musicians dedicated works to them. By 1805, there were approximately 600 Kőϛeks in Istanbul.

The real female belly-dancers (called ʕengi) were so disturbed by the mass-popularity of their very effeminate male counterparts that they in turn did not hesitate to kill some of them.

The yeniϛeri (in Turkish = new corps) graduating from the Devşirme state, unsurprisingly and very predictably became uncontrollably violent as young adults, even though they were led into wars by the Sultan himself as their Supreme Commander (like an American President!) – They were for example instrumental in the capture of Constantinople in 1453, and the subsequent fall of the Byzantine Empire; they became the first and foremost military power in the Ottoman Empire.  In 1804 (for example), a violently homosexual Janissary junta called the Dahias ruled the whole of Serbia in the Balkans.

The Yeniϛeri acquired prominence of very high military rank and social prestige, high levels of pay, exclusively because of homosexual favouritism. They became untouchable, like the British cross-party parliamentary Velvet Mafia (in the immortal words of a British parliamentary committee, warning the Conservative Prime Minister John Major, when he first came to power 1990-7, that he should never ever cross the cross-party group of homosexual Members of Parliament in the House of Commons, ganged-up like the Chick-pea Sellers of Istanbul, defending their rights at all costs against the idle-classes, and rightly so!)

The yeniϛeris, like the British Underground-train-drivers’ union leaders would never compromise their pay and hierarchies (“differentials”, in British trade-union discourse).  All attempts to modernize them within the Ottoman Army would hit the rails!

The city of Edirne was the third-time-round capital city of the Ottoman Empire for 90 years, where Mehmed II (1432-81) the Conqueror of Constantinople and the destroyer of the Byzantine Empire was born – he declared it as his new capital city in 1453.  And he (like a modern ISIS leader) established the first slave market in Istanbul (in 1460s).  They mushroomed overnight in most cities and towns – special markets called Esir, where the slaves of all ages and both genders were publicly stripped totally naked and shamelessly examined by potential buyers – it was the hard-core pornography of the day, replicated today by the genocidal lunatics of ISIS in part-occupied Syria, determined to revive the “Ottoman Caliphate” (whatever they mean).

Edirne was and still is (I think) the home of Kιrkpιnar the name of an extraordinary oil-wrestling tournament held once a year in June, since 1346, and still a very highly prized cultural event in modern Turkey – the pair of young male wrestlers pour buckets of olive-oil on their naked bodies, wear heavy black leather-trousers down to just below the knees, and begin to wrestle normally – but what is unique and quite amazing is the single shockingly homoerotic rule of the match – that they can only topple the opponent by plunging their hands in the trousers to grab the bare oily buttocks of the opponent to trip him up!   Of course all wrestling is intensely homosexual, but this Turkish version is beyond the pale – there is nothing like it anywhere.

Mehmed II built also the vast Topkapi Palace, where, in a part of the Harem, little could he guess, an area emerged in time as a kind of virtual Cage (Kafes, in Turkish) for the potential successors to the throne to be under a kind of house arrest, constantly watched by palace guards – with endless sons of the sultan’s concubines vying for power, their mothers hatching conspiracies to empower their own children, it became customary for a new sultan to get his siblings killed, including infants, dozens of them at once … as a matter of Ottoman routine ritual of succession, very much like an alpha… lion in the jungle who kills all the cubs of a pride he takes over, to force  the fertility of his harem-lionesses he immediately mates with in succession!   The Cage-inmates were allowed to mate only with barren concubines – the psychological pressure was such that one deposed Sultan committed suicide.

And Mehmed II was happily insistent to claim descent from not Osman, but John Tzelepes Komnenos, the brother of a Byzantine emperor – John II Komnenos (= The Beautiful).  He wrote poetry under a pseudonym named “Avni”(= the Helper).  In painting, the Sultan is exclusively portrayed smelling … two red rose-buds, not matured yet (Serayi Albums, circa 1480) – a homosexual symbol of paedophilia referring to the sex-slavery/devşirme/yeniϛeri vicious circular system he had propagated fiercely and fearsomely throughout his empire.

Mehmed II did also some good – codified criminal and constitutional law, and commissioned the first imperial mosque – the Fatih Mosque in Istanbul.  Rossini has an opera, one of his most interesting, titled Maometto II – the heroic Sultan is the same, but the plot line a total fantasy!

The Sultan in real life was capable of incredible genocidal cruelty, contrary to the noble legacy of his ancestor Osman’s message to his son; when Mehmed II had secured the Bosporous Straits militarily, he levied a toll on ships passing through – fair enough, but one day, a Venetian vessel ignored the signals to stop (perhaps even due to some confusion, malfunction or misunderstanding); A single cannon shot sank her, and all the sailors lucky enough to have survived in the water were scooped up and beheaded, except the captain, who was impaled and set-up as a public scarecrow!

While worshipped by modern Turks as their greatest national hero, Mehmed II was so hated by the Europeans (needless to say the Venetians in particular) that when the news of his death was reported, church-bells rang, celebrations held, La Grande Aquila é morta! (= the great eagle is dead) was shouted in the watery streets of Venice, and on gondolas through the canals!

Is There an Ottoman culture?

I think there is, and contrary to what the Anglo-American philosopher Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) thought, that the Ottomans ruled for six hundred years as a military dynasty incapable of culture-creation – the great philosopher had probably the 1915 genocide of the Armenians in mind.  In his old fashioned way, the philosopher obviously equalized culture with civilized behaviour – a definition now entirely outmoded and further demeaned by the use of culture for any other sub-culture to include murderous cults.

And in this centenary year of it, we must observe that the Ottoman “high-culture”, if any such Whiteheadean entity should be defined – was mostly the invention of the Armenians in Istanbul;  In addition to the above examples, we must never forget the great architect Sinan (1489-1588) – some think the greatest in the history of architecture – he realized 476 projects – mosques, hospitals, aqueducts, roads, bridges … the most famous Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, and the Selimiye mosque in Edirne (thought to be his masterpiece); Sinan trained apprentices, assistants, some of whom later designed the Taj Mahal; as the head of a government department, Sinan served three sultans – Suleiman the Magnificent, Selim II, and Murad III.  Sadly, he was a Devşirme child, trained as a yeniϛeri to the level of Ağa-commander, one of the proofs of his Armenian ancestry denied by modern Turkish lunatics.  Myself, I think Sinan built his mosques according to the design of the blue-print of a traditional classical Armenian church.  When in 1573, Sultan Selim II decided to exile the Armenian communities of the Kayseri region of Anatolia (the birthplace of Sinan) to the island of Cyprus he had conquered two years earlier (in 1571), Sinan could arrange that his family was saved from exile by a special firman (Order) from the Sultan. 

The British Bond of the Band of Ottoman “Brothers” – a modern historical puzzle solved

The Ottoman Sultanate was liberally homosexual.  Most of the Sultans and their poets were practising paedophiles.

One of the great mysteries of modern history is the intense puzzling intimacy of the British Foreign policy with that of Turkey, leading the three grand denialists of the Armenian holocaust of 1915.  The USA (the mother of all Gay Liberation) and Israel (where the State formally declared Tel Aviv as the Gay Capital of the Middle East), are Britain’s wedded partners in patronising the Young Turkish genocidal crime, murdering almost 2 million Armenians.

The annals of the British Empire generals of the time freely express their “love of the Turk”-ish soldiery openly.  They share this homosexual underbelly, which can go a long way to explaining the bosom bonding (and bondage) of their foreign policies.

A never known fact seems to be the overall British Empire Army’s adoption of the Ottoman Empire’s sadistic Janissary training – and here it is in black-and white from a book to be officially published on September 10th, summed up by Tony Rennell in today’s Daily Mail (29th August, 2015, pp 46-8) from a biography of the notorious British homosexual spy Guy Burgess);

As the son of a naval officer {aged 13}, it was natural for Burgess to go to Dartmouth Naval College in Devon.  Here he entered a regime that was vicious to the point of cruelty.  Cadets were constantly shouted at and harshly punished for the most minor of imperfections. [...] Caning – six strokes to the buttocks – was arbitrary and frequent.  For serious offences, a cat o’ nine tails was used {a heavy rope with 9 large knots on it to cause maximum pain} [...] He later claimed to the Russians that he became homosexual at Eton, where seduction was common among masters and boys.

The above description is flawless to describe equally the Ottoman Devşirme/Janissary system, for which the British Foreign policy seems to be very grateful (and feels indebted) to modern Turkish state, continuing the Disraeli policy down to our own days; Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81), twice Queen Victoria’s Prime Minister, in denial of Armenian rights under Russian empire support, acquired for the British empire the island of Cyprus (1878) gifted by the Ottomans as a military base (still so!) to police “their” Suez Canal which was the life-line of Britain to India.

The most famous Eton of course is the number one Secondary School for the empire-builders – Eton and Harrow are the Cambridge and Oxford Universities for the super-wealthy teenagers of the British oligarchs.  Trinity College at Cambridge was famous for harbouring secret societies (one named Apostles) exclusive to homosexual elites.

By now it is thus a well-proven fact that most of the British ruling class were child-abused, especially in the best public schools led by Eton (and Harrow), beaten regularly with the rod on their buttocks by sadistic paedophile headmasters and all-male teachers, exactly as described above regarding the naval cadets of the military.  The elite British educational system – primary / secondary / Oxbridge never influenced by social (and societal) changes or modernity, preserves its Ottoman sadistic fixtures.

From endless examples, let us mention the great baby Winston Churchill, whose father, a Lord of the British Realm died of syphilis, and whose American mother was “the local bike” for the British upper crust – an apt Cockney folk expression for female fornicators.  They neglected horribly their teenage-son dumped in a famous boarding school, until the matron sent the repugnant parents a message that they might soon have to collect child-Churchill’s corpse … That physically frequently heart-broken sweet child Winston Churchill became a true Ottoman janissary, plunging the world into the Second World War with his attack on Gallipoli, and then inventing the Cold War against Bolshevism.

In my time, in Beirut Lebanon, I was in touch with the British Council, the cultural wing of Britain’s Foreign Office, closeted exclusively with homosexual officers in foreign lands – even the cultural acts they imported from Britain for display to the local people were cast from highly civilized and socially cautious homosexuals.  The first violin of a Quartet, in his forties, fell in love with me – I was 14, and he wished to sight-see Beirut for a day with me arm-in-arm.  I obliged politely out of love for Shakespeare’s Hamlet and King Lear I used to soliloquize.

A homosexual Sultan, Selim III was entirely reform-minded, and determined to modernize his Ottoman empire – the Yeniϛeri did not like it a bit, especially that the Sultan’s reform-intentions (just like the British Prime Minister Mrs Margaret Thatcher’s) were focused on the destruction of their trade-union power, threatening their socio-economic status.  Consequently, they rebelled – referenced in Tchoukhadjian’s opera – deposed the Sultan (a first in Ottoman history), allowing a gang to murder him.

Sultan Mahmud II (1789-1839), the 30th Sultan (not to be confused with Mehmed II), developed the Reform-zeal of Selim III’s legacy further, enough to win the sobriquet of “Peter the Great of Turkey”.  Legend has it that his mother was a first cousin of Josephine, Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife.

Sultan Mahmud dared to abolish the Yeniϛeri by simply genociding them – on 15th June 1826, most of the 135.000 of them had rebelled fighting battles in the streets of Istanbul which was their power-base – (echoed in the street battles of Hor-hor Ağa commanding his band of yeniϛeri … chick-pea Sellers).

Mahmud II gathered the Janissaries in their barracks and simply slaughtered them.  The last of them, were put to death by decapitation in the Blood Tower of the (now Greek) city of Thessaloniki.

An indication that the Yeniϛeri trade-union power did not disappear altogether was held in the rumours that Sultan Mahmud II himself – their genocider – died eventually in mysterious circumstances, perhaps of TB, but most likely assassinated by an avenging Yeniϛeri, who as an army contingent of homosexuals passed into myth and legend, their ambiguous characters (bad-and-good) transmuted into rebel-fighters for their rights, like modern British trade-union leaders demanding more pay, job-security, and decent living standards.  Their exclusive military honorific title Ağa gained wider prominence precisely like the members of the British Legion, ex-army officers referring to each other with their military ranks (like Rear Admiral, Sergeant Major, Commander etc.)

The Janissary military-band music (called mehter-music) based on the intensive use of giant timpani, davul (Base-drum), zurna (loud shawm) – both Caucasian Armenian elements), zil (cymbals), bells, triangle, boru (natural trumpet) inspired the classical composers of the West; Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky – in Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Bohème (Premiered in 1896), a military band parades in the streets of Paris (in the first Act).  The genius of Beethoven, transformed the Janissary-band music into a new genre, the Funerary March, an unsurpassed masterpiece of which is the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s  Symphony No. 3 (opus 55, in E flat Major, 1804) the EroicaMarcia Funebra, the funeral march (in adagio assai) glorifying the hero’s death.

And today, the yeniϛeri mehter-band is prettified with beautiful primary coloured costumes as one of the best tourist attractions of modern Turkey.

Incredibly, all of the above, and more, are reference points in Tchoukhadjian’s complicated opera – so very complicated, as he seems to have attempted an impossible task in the history of music – an amalgamation of  the two major genres of opera – the opera seria = serious opera, with mythic-tragic and practically melodramatic subjects, against which the opera bouffa = comic opera had arisen.  There are undoubted echoes of Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto in the plotline, but not in the music which is the culprit of the confusion of the Soviet Armenian musical oafs to have lumbered Tchoukhadjian with “the Armenian Verdi” nonsense.

While I am certain that the Ottoman ambiguities about the genocidal Devşirme system and its paedophile-homosexual extension are all over Tchoukhadjian’s plot of the Hor-hor Ağa, I cannot be certain at all about his self-imposed task of forging the two opera genres (of the comic and the serious) into a single unity, as none of the original librettos/scores of his operas have survived intact.  The presence of the tragic sentiment features as a constituent element also in the comic operas of Mozart – Tchoukhadjian’s great source of musical inspiration, although one cannot detect any conscious effort on the part of any composer in the history of music attempting a union of both, the faint signs of which appear in Tchoukhadjian (and perhaps in Wagner 1813-83).

Tchoukhadjian’s main character, for example, right from the bottom of the social scale – a Leblebidji, but an Ağa = a Yeniϛeri military Commander, commands his friends,  symbolizing their whole social class, of the Leb-lebi (= chickpea) sellers of Istanbul, and organizes a rebellion to reclaim his virgin-daughter (hence a young girl, and not a middle-aged Soviet soprano) from the clutches of the Opera-administration (symbolizing the Ottoman ruling class, whose sole function was to entertain the Sultan – a Don Giovanni with hundreds of concubines caged in a harem).   The intention of the yeniϛeris of Hor-hor Ağa is to topple the sex-mad regime of the artistes of Selim III… and by camouflaged extension, the Sultanate itself!

The chorus led by the Leblebidji (a base-baritone role) is a powerful rhythmic almost dance like-melody, displaying revolutionary fervour with their raised clubs to beat the hell out of the lascivious-regime – (in Armenian) enbess me bidi dsedsenk vor morrnan irents harssanik = we’ll beat them up (physically) such that they’ll forget their wedding ceremonies!  Harssanik is an argot euphemism in Armenian for sex-orgy!

The conspiracy of Turkish governments post 1915 to ethnically-cleanse Western Public… Libraries

I remember from my teenage years when Tchoukhadjian’s lost musical score was discovered in a Turkish grocer’s shop in Istanbul, and rescued by a wealthy Lebanese Armenian from being consumed as wrapping paper!

There was an undoubted conspiracy by the post-war Turkish governments, to methodically and ruthlessly cleanse European public libraries of all references in print to the genocide of the Armenians – it was their second level of genocide, the continuation of attempting to wipe the Armenian natives of Anatolia out of History.  Security checks were practically non-existent then, and the evil Turkish deeds done easily.  On many occasions,  I would visit the British Museum in London for research, in the seventies, and discover works recorded in their catalogues, but vanished from the collection – there was the case of an article, cut out with a blade, out of a book of essays!

A few years ago, there was a hullabaloo about the opening of the Ottoman state-archives for research about the genocide of the Armenians, some believed to find hard-core evidence there.

But how could those Armenians be so naive still, when the modern Turkish state had already cleansed their Republic by changing (turkey-fying) the names of ancient Armenian cities, dynamiting the Byzantine Armenian churches (hundreds of them! Even their historical ruins!), had paid secret agents travelling to Europe to mutilate the British Museum and the National Archives.

The British government Civil Servant-slaves are themselves masters of clearing state papers of all harmful and undesirable content, tampering with history itself, while simultaneously pretending that they are releasing the facts and truths of history, the deception strengthened by the titillation of the 30 years rule of keeping them under lock and key.

Tchoukhadjian’s score saved from the Istanbul grocer was immediately transmitted to the Opera House in Yerevan, the capital city of Soviet Armenia, where ignorameously, not even understanding the revolutionary aspect of the plot and its music, the Soviet Armenian intellectual élite totally messed up poor Tchoukhadjian’s comic opera, Mozartean (and Rossini like – the latter himself anyway influenced greatly by Mozart), and not Verdi-ean.

Tchoukhadjian is the Armenian Mozart/Rossini, not Verdi, as an epithet commonly thrown about by Armenian “experts”; the tomfoolery of the Soviet Armenian musical Establishment went as far as even changing the very nature of Tchoukhadjian’s  work, unforgivably, either from sheer ignorance of music-history, or heterosexual male chauvinist idiocy – they should have known that the lead singer of the opéra comique which defines the very genre of the music is the Base/Baritone, not the female Soprano/Mezzo (singing the role of a made-up name) Gariné, stamped then (and now on poor Tchoukhadjian’s work), shifting by misdirection the semantic and musical balance of the work.

You just can’t have a comic opera with a female lead, not even a tenor; it must absolutely be a Base, at the most a Baritone, which is closer in vocal range to the base.  And this was the genocidal musical crime the Soviet Armenian opera directors were guilty of, and frankly, I expect their successors to apologize and recant, and make amends by officially denouncing their unjustifiable musical error, then replace the sheer stupidity of the Gariné (Soprano) title role to the opera’s distinctive original Leblebidji Hor-hor Agha (Base) title.

Danae Eleni, a beautiful English soprano, with perfect pitch, mezzo range, plus coloratura was ignorameously made the star of the London production – I was surprised she did not hail already from the ENO (the English National Opera Company) where she should reside! They should be all ears and eyes to get her for Mozart’s Queen of the Night (in the Magic Flute)!

Leon Berger Hor-Hor, with a pleasant timbre of basso did an excellent job trying not to steal the show, which actually musically technically speaking really belonged to him!

In Beirut (the capital city of the Lebanon), there arrived in the fifties, a genius of the Armenian Istanbul theatre tradition, Berj Fazlian, who in the early seventies also laid the foundations of the Lebanese Arab theatre, by directing musicals for the most famous Rahbani brothers, one of them being married to Feyrouz, a folk singer known throughout the Arab countries.

Mr. Fazlian, probably in his late eighties now, directed Tchoukhadjian’s Leblebidji with a unique savvy Istanbul flavour difficult to define, working together with the late Armen Tarian, a master of Armenian Prose and short-stories (and my own brother-in-law) as the Librettist.

What is quite inexplicable is Gerald Papasian’s own remarkable grasp of what I call the Istanbul-flavour of life and art!  He was too young to have experienced the fruits of Berj Fazilian’s genius … and yet, Mr Papasian seems to have it run through his veins – the best I could define it with is the Commedia dell’arte tradition, which undoubtedly went into the unique melting-pot of the opera-comique – the ingredient of eroticism to the degree of obscenity, the British theatre tradition of which stretched back to Medieval theatre, and of course Shakespeare (still not properly understood by Shakespeare scholars deluding themselves that their great national playwright is as sexless as themselves … There should be an agreed age-of-consent limit (perhaps at 25) not to expose Shakespeare’s true meanings to children!

No Sex Please, We Are British and American Musicals

While the European commedia tradition was less imbibed with blatant violence, British literary obscenity (with Shakespeare and what followed him, the Jacobean Theatre) was drowned in it… By the second half of the 19th c., attending a theatre performance in London (musical burlesque, bawdy badly translated continental operas, vulgar farce, erotic “ballets”) became demeaning for the Bourgeois (outwardly respectable) public, while the landed British Aristocracy continued with their sexual peccadilloes behind the heavily laid curtains of their mansions.

In 1875, Richard D’Oyly Carte noticed quite a big gap in the market to invent the family-friendly light opera by commissioning two composers Gilbert and Sullivan to write the first “clean” comic operas – the time of No Sex please, we are British had arrived (the unforgettable title of a British farce, premiered in 1971, playing to full houses until 1987, totalling 6,761 performances!)

D’Oyly Carte went further, and built the Savoy Theatre in London especially for them (now an adjunct of the Savoy Hotel, home of international celebrities, where today a 50 pence afternoon tea costs a whopping  £ 50 English pounds, yes, you read it correctly, 5000 times over-priced, typical of  what the Daily Mail calls Rip-off Britain!)

The childish junk of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas – a bad imitation of a pair of Rossini-s – continued performing at the Savoy exclusively, de-sexing the British until… 1982, all the while laying the foundations of the American musicals.

Unfortunately rubbed down clean with camp detergent, to the degree of perverting the genre itself of comic opera … into complete infantile boredom, the Gilbert and Sullivan Rossini-foot-prints inspired the silly, superficial, petty, wishy-washy lyrics of the American musicals fit for mindless audiences!

 

A Last Word on the Arcola Production

Regrettably, the production suffered from some serious flaws. Obviously under-rehearsed, it ran the danger of being a complete waste of time, but it was not, on the contrary, it held the audience spell-bound.

I was stunned by the profoundly moving commitment of the cast to its director – something I have rarely witnessed at Britain’s National Theatre!

Some flaws could have been easily corrected – Opera, with its aggrandized emotions, can absorb imperfect diction, and even a complete ignorance of the lyrics which explains why audiences do not mind not knowing the original language of a grand opera – but not in Opera comique, which possesses large chunks of unsung libretto progressing the plot-line – it is hence absolutely vital that every word is properly enunciated and fully understood in the language of the audience.

From the very first day of the formal rehearsals, the director should have ensured a consensus of how to pronounce the foreign words and names, so that you do not get a dozen different pronunciations of (say) Ga-ri-né as Garaineh, Gai-aneh etc.

Although the director had the excellent idea of spreading out the action all over the stage-space(s), nevertheless, the crowd-scenes were messy and not adequately expansive.

Mr. Papasian, the director (who is also the stage-Narrator) displayed a wonderful sense of stand-up comic’s endless humour and perfect timing.  He kept harping on the fact that this was only a semi-staged enterprise.  I thought he was joking, until I worked out that he meant it! But I think he should have kept it as a deliberate joke, otherwise the question arises as to why bother at all, and not wait for better days when one could stage the opera in full, with orchestra instead of a piano accompaniment (perfectly and seamlessly executed by a first-class musician Kelvin Thomson) and all the paraphernalia of an opera house!  Since there is no prospect of that happening, I think the semi-staging of it should stay as a nice joke, digging at the foolishness of international opera house managements for ignoring such a musical masterpiece.  Tchoukhadjian’s Operetta can be made unflinchingly a staple of the classical repertoire.

I liked also the grotesque commedia dell’arte moustachioed characters played with French style cabaret monkey-business.  I think the production could be safely advertised containing some Commedia dell’arte characters, preparing the potential audience for its directorial innovations – I found it hilarious, the ironical presentation of the Bosporus with sheer blue lighting on the inner red-brick wall of the theatre/stage.

All in all, it was a brilliant success – the audience absolutely loved it.  Tchoukhadjian was the great winner – even as a lame duck, he could compete with Tchaikovsky’s Swans in any lake!

 

P.S.

While I was trying to acquire tickets, I discovered that the Internet site of the Arcola theatre was announcing the evening’s programme with a Review of the show – something I have never encountered anywhere else – this fact alone was very odd, but what shocked me most was moreover the obnoxious review – I thought to myself, what madness to put off a prospective theatre-goer from seeing the production … for a moment I thought Hell, why bother…

Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, but it is despicable when a Reviewer seemingly deliberately attempts to demean a creative enterprise and the group of people (the Cast) who are trying their damnedest to kindly entertain.

I am not paranoid, and I dislike anti-Semitic/Armenian obsessives who hunt for conspiracies at the drop of a hat; but in this sensitive year of the genocide of the Armenians in 1915 by the Ottoman Young Turks, could it be that the occasion was a “subtle” attempt to paper over the incontrovertible fact that the Ottoman culture was very much indebted to Armenian creativity, their children providing the Janissaries, their women ornamenting the Sultan’s harems – it was discovered only last year that about 3 million Turks today have an Armenian grandmother … who have usually divulged the secret of their identity on their deathbed!

By genociding 2 million Armenians in cold blood, in 1915, against the last will and testament of Osman, the founder of the Ottoman dynasty (born in ancient Armenian Anatolia) advocating kindness, fairness and justice, never cruelty,    the racist hyenas of the Young Turks plunged their own country into a hell the fires of which are still burning, and threatening to engulf the whole of the Middle East – the sick fantasy of Western Bushite warmongers aiming for permanent “little” wars that can keep their macro-economies based on military-industrial complexes oiled and going…

I am told that the Theatre’s Founder and Artistic Director is a very nice Turkish gentleman – and one would think that he would not cut his own throat by denigrating on his website a production he had initiated … But then, people of all nations are funny that way… which way?

The genociders of the Armenians in 1915, Talaat (the PM), and Enver (the minister of War) were bosom Freemason brothers of the Armenian Lawyer Krikor Zohrap, an MP of the Ottoman Parliament, and their expert of international law (he was also the Guy de Maupassant of Armenian literature, an unsurpassed master of Prose) … he had Turkish coffee in the morning with Enver, arrested in the afternoon by Talaat, and his head smashed with (literally) rocks in the evening (bragged about by the murderer himself)!

I have dear and sweet and compassionate Turkish friends in London, who know that my own father was a victim of the genocide, they share my tears of his memories, but then suddenly deny that it was a well-planned genocide – only an accidental massacre… of 2 million!

Perhaps the Artistic Director of the Arcola Theatre could inspire a Turkish composer to write a comic opera on this accidental massacre!

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2 Responses to “A Papasian Production that makes you proud of being an Armenian”

  1. Dikran Vorperian sagt:

    Dear Hovhanness, I am overwhelmed by your thorough study of a detailed historical facts, specifically during the time when Genghis Khan and his murderous followers pillaged the “Poker Asia” and, which followed by the Ottoman Turks, finally committing one of the greatest genocides in the history of mankind. All this to explain the very essence of the Dikran Tchoukhadjian’s operetta called “Leblebiji Hor-Hor Aga”. One can see the sequence of events clearly from your superb article and the inter-connections with some European countries and their universal policies, leading to the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians. Part of the crime against humanity committed was the evacuation of the remaining Armenian from their mother-land Armenia. Naturally, when there are geniuses like you, I do not think that the truth can be concealed any longer. I thank you for reacting to the criticism of Tchoukhadjian’s operetta and bringing up important historical facts, which you presented so well and with so much details. My only wish is to have a thousand strong like yourself all over the world, to fight the lies and misrepresentation of the so call the modern, democratic nations in Europe and North America, who are still protecting the evil. Well done my friend and keep up the good work.

    • norkhosq.net sagt:

      Մեծարգո խմբագիր՝ «Նոր Խոսք»-ի
      Այնքան ուրախ, երջանիկ և անհունորեն շնորհակալ եմ, որ ինձ ուղարկեցիկ Տիգրան Որբերեանի գնահատականը… Նա, մի բացառիկ անձնավորություն է, աննգուն ՀԱՅ և սկանչելի արվեստագետ՝ օպերայի երգիչ՝ Տենոր…
      Այնպես, որ գնահատականի ազնիվ խոսքեր նրանից, համազոր է… պետական շքանշանի Հայաստանից…

      Հովհաննես Ի. Փիլիկեան

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