Q & A: Liparit Avetisyan on His Opera Roles & How He Stays True to His Own Voice

By Mike Hardy
 (Photo: Edmond Choo)

Armenian tenor Liparit Avetisyan made his European debut in the autumn of 2016 as Fenton in a new production of “Falstaff” at the Cologne Opera and has since been acknowledged as one of the most exciting lyric tenors of his generation.

After his debut in Cologne, other international debuts followed in rapid succession at such leading theatres as the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Berlin State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Zürich Opera, Opera Australia, Bayerische Staatsoper, Semperoper Dresden, Frankfurt Opera, Hamburg State Opera and Den Norske Opera in Oslo, Opera du Rhin in Strasbourg, Seattle Opera, Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, he was a guest artist of the Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre from 2017-2019. His roles have included Alfredo in “La Traviata,” Rodolfo in “La bohème,” Duke of Mantua in “Rigoletto,” Edgardo in “Lucia di Lammermoor,” Nemorino in “L’elisir d’amore,” Des Grieux in “Manon,” Don José in “Carmen,” Don Ottavio in “Don Giovanni,” Count Almaviva in “The Barber of Seville,” Vaudémont in “Iolanta” and Lensky in “Eugene Onegin.”

OperaWire caught up with the tenor in Amsterdam.

OperaWire: You are currently performing as Alfredo in “La Traviata” at the Dutch National Opera, having finished the same role in Dresden. How are the performances going, and what do you try most to bring to the role?

Liparit Avetisyan: You know, it’s always quite challenging to navigate between two theaters and productions simultaneously, especially when the roles are different. However, in my case I’m a little lucky: the role is the same, but as you understand – different stage partners (you must have an individual approach to every artist), different conductors – each one brings his own set of expectations, and preferences, and, of course, completely different productions. In such case, it becomes paramount not to lose sight of oneself, and to stay true to my portrayal of Alfredo, to exist in the proposed circumstances, love, and live everything for real. My Alfredo is always very loving, gentle, passionate, and at the same time strong. He is simply a victim of the morals of those times… No matter how much he wants to, it’s difficult for him to go against his father and his family. I think that Violetta always knows in her heart that there is no future for their love story, no matter how optimistic Alfredo is.

OW: I saw you in “L’elisir d’amore” at the Royal Opera House with Nadine Sierra in September. You brought a lot of genuine physicality to the role, with some impressive antics, requiring quite a bit of strength, flexibility, and balance. Did you do any specific training for this?

LA: I adore this production; it’s brimming with fun, sunshine, and joy!  Indeed, the chemistry between performers on stage can make all the difference. I must say that I was very lucky and we truly had a dream team, particularly my partnership with dear Nadine. Her radiant light, positivity, and boundless energy must have made every moment on stage a true pleasure.

You know, in my youth, I used to be a professional ballroom and sports dancer and during my study at the Moscow Conservatory we had a compulsory subject: DANCE. Each week, we dedicated an hour to ballet barre exercises, then learned the dances that were staged in the performances of the opera studio at the conservatory and the best of us had the privilege of participating in these productions. For me, that was a fantastic system, when young people have the opportunity to learn and grow on stage alongside partners, orchestra and of course with the singers who are older than you and have some experience, you learn everything at once. Apparently, all this left an indelible mark on my body language.

OW: In the signature aria from that opera, “Una Furtiva Lagrima,” you produced a very effective, final line, “Si può morir… d’amor?,” which you delivered in a single breath. I think this is unique in any performance that I’m aware of. What prompted you to do this?

LA: First and foremost, thanks a lot, I am deeply touched by your appreciation.

To be candid, this was a first for me back in 2017, following my success in “La Traviata” at the Royal Opera House. I was honored with an invitation to return for my role debut as Nemorino, alongside the incredible Pretty Yende as Adina. One particular moment that will forever stay with me occurred after the first performance when my manager approached me with glowing praise: “Liparit,” he said, “it’s a tremendous success. I absolutely loved your interpretation of the role, the musicality, and the beauty of it all. But tell me, who is your coach? Who gave you the idea to sing the ending phrase in one breath?” It was an incredibly gratifying moment, filled with a profound sense of sensuality. Proudly, I responded that it was my own idea, rooted in how I felt the music. Since then, I’ve consistently sung that phrase in the same manner.

OW: You studied at the Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatory, but tell me what led you to there? What were your earliest influences in the operatic world, and which tenors most inspired you?

LA: I’ve always had a passion for singing and everything related to the stage, even attending drama club in my childhood. However, my true love for classical music was ignited by my first vocal teacher, whom I began studying with at the age of 8. She introduced me to the world of opera. I realized that this was what I needed because in opera I found the perfect blend of music, singing, and dramatic art. This transformative experience took place in the picturesque city of Feodosia in Crimea. I am an Armenian and though I was born in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, my childhood and youth were spent in Crimea after my family relocated there.

As you mentioned, I began my formal studies in Moscow, a choice that seemed natural given the renowned reputation of the Moscow Conservatory and its esteemed graduates, also it was conveniently located and more accessible for me at the time. After two and a half years, I made a pivotal decision to continue my studies in Armenia. In 2011, I found an exceptional vocal coach in my homeland – Professor Rafael Hakobyants at the Yerevan Conservatory. I transferred to the Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory, where I completed both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Throughout my journey, I’ve drawn inspiration from various recordings and admired numerous singers in one role or another. However, Luciano Pavarotti holds a special place in my heart. He remains a beacon of light and a boundless source of energy and inspiration along our challenging path in the world of opera.

OW: What is after “La Traviata” for you? What is your upcoming schedule?

LA: The upcoming production is “La bohème” with Sonya Yoncheva in Sofia, it is followed by my house debut at LA Opera, which fills me with tremendous excitement. It’s incredibly gratifying to receive numerous messages from fans eagerly anticipating my performances, particularly with the significant Armenian diaspora in attendance. I’m fully committed to delivering my very best portrayal of Alfredo to them. Next, another “La bohème” alongside Sonya awaits us in Oman. In the coming season I have performances at the Royal Opera House, Bayerische Staatsoper, Semperoper Dresden and I eagerly anticipate making my house debuts at the Wiener Staatsoper and Opéra national de Paris.

OW: Which roles do you aspire to perform, which you haven’t yet attempted?

LA: Indeed, they are a lot, and I’m hopeful that both my vocal and physical health will support the realization of my big plans. Over the next three seasons, I am contracted to undertake three new roles: Romeo in Gounod’s “Roméo et Juliette,” Macduff in Verdi’s “Macbeth,” and Riccardo in Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera.”


InterviewsStage Spotlight