BY PAUL CHADERJIAN
FRESNO–Armenian Diva Nune Yesayan will make her debut on American broadcast television on Thursday–September 7 at 7 p.m. on KGMC TV–the Central California’s powerful Channel 43 (Channel 10 on most AT&T Broadband cable systems in the San Joaquin Valley). The hour-long program features five of the performer’s popular music videos–regularly seen on Armenian television programming around the world. The collection also offers vignettes from the Armenian superstar’s concerts as well as interviews about her career and her life.
The special begins with a haunting rendition of "Kele Lao," sung acappella inside an ancient Armenian monastery. The first music video featured on the self-titled program is "Toon Ga Verevits" from Nune’s second album–"Who Knows." The video is a montage of old and new–mixing tradition with popular culture. Nune sings as young athletic dancers surround her and move to the steps of traditional and modern choreography. The visual techniques and images in this video are comparable to the creative mise-en-scene in Sergei Paradjanov’s motion picture about Sayat Nova.
"We wanted to put Nune on television," says Bryan Bedrosian–"so that people here who have not seen her or heard her before could be introduced to her and enjoy her talents." Bedrosian serves on the Armenian Community School of Fresno’s Fundraising Committee. The Community School invited Nune to perform in Fresno as part of her Armenia 2000 tour. "We knew if people could see Nune Yesayan–it would create a lot of enthusiasm and sell tickets to the concert to benefit our school."
The television special–in turn–is bound to create enthusiasm in the community. The second music video featured in Nune’s Fresno TV Special is also from "Who Knows." The images of Nune on the streets of Paris are set to the melancholic song about lost love. "Kheghja Tou Ints" shows the City of Lights on an overcast day. Nune is imprisoned in her room–singing to an unseen yet powerful figure about the wounds of her heart. On the walls of her bedroom are projections of street life with strangers going about their day unaware of the minstrel walking the streets with a broken heart.
"Mr. Bedrosian approached us with the idea," says Todd Lopes–Vice President of Cocola Broadcasting Companies. "He asked if there was a way to help publicize Nune’s upcoming concert at the Saroyan–so we moved some programs around and made the Thursday night seven to eight hour available." The local television executive has been a key factor in Channel 43’s previous programming decisions in favor of Armenian television specials–including the broadcast of last year’s Armenia Fund Telethon; the station is planning to broadcast the Telethon again this Thanksgiving Day.
"Nune," the popular 60s song remade for the fourth Yesayan album–is another one of the videos features on the television special. It is a festive video with dancers–a cherubic sailor–air guitar and even Celtic tap dancers. "It was shot on the shores of Armenians Lake Sevan," says producer Garbis Titizian of Prime Entertainment. "This video has people trying to tap along in the middle of their living rooms."
The next video featured in the special is "Mi Bala," perhaps the most sophisticated portraits of Nune in any of her music videos. The video is made of a series of poses which remind the viewer of high fashion shoots by high price runway models in Paris or New York. This video–however–takes the viewer to the Saharan Desert and perches the singer in front of the ancient Pyramids.
"We invited Nune," says Bedrosian–"because the local Armenian Community in general supports any type of activity which supports the Armenian school. We thought by using the Armenian School as the beneficiary of the concert–we could attract a broad spectrum of people from all over Central California and the Central Coast to hear and see these two great Armenian stars–Nune and Djivan."
Another one of fun videos in the television special takes the viewer to the Middle East and the streets of Beirut. Here–Nune finds herself ignored by her lover–a man too busy with work to talk to her on the phone. The young minstrel then leaves her million-dollar hotel and takes a limousine ride around the Paris of the Middle East and find herself the object of an autograph hound. "Inchou Yes kez Siretzi" from "World" also features a festive party sequence with lots of pizzazz and even a mariachi band and dancers.
"We took the best of her music videos and concert footage," says Stepan Partamian of Garni Productions–who produced the special–"and combined them to show what Nune’s made of." Between the music videos featured on the special is frank dialogue from Nune about family–friendship and her decision to sing Sayat Nova. The 30-year-old talks about the joy of gift giving during the holidays and on birthdays–and she also traces her love of music to her parents.
Much of the hour-long special is also dedicated to Nune’s performances at the Opera House in Yerevan with footage from last May 31 concert dedicated to the memory of General Dro. The colorful theatrics of this large hall are interesting to watch allowing the viewer to enjoy the lighting–fog and the multitude of costumes worn by Nune. In a sequence shot outside the Opera–fans are seen flocking the star as she enters the Hall. Shielded by four body-guards–Nune takes time to sign autographs and personally hand them to her adoring fans.
The video is a virtual global tour of cities in the US–Canada–Asia–Europe and Armenia. Viewers are offered not only performances and music videos–but also a chance to travel from the Catholiosate of Antelias to ancient ruins of Armenian monasteries–from the Tames River in England to Sydney–Australia–and from indoor concerts to a final outdoor performance in Yerevan for hundreds of Armenia’s freedom fighters.
Nune and Djivan–Armenia’s Cultural Ambassadors–will begin their Armenia 2000 concerts in Southern California and perform at the Pasadena Civic Center–on Friday–September 8. The next night–they will be on stage at Fresno’s William Saroyan Theater and then perform at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco–on Sunday–September 10. Five days later on September 15–Nune and Djivan will appear at the prestigious Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center in New York City–and at the Boston Berkeley Performance Center on Sunday–September 17 at 4 p.m.