Based on an operetta by Dikran Chukhajian, ‘Karine’ includes everything it should: two couples in love, dressing up, kidnapping, amorous misunderstandings and crooked villains. The quintessential absurdity of the plots and the staid production design marry beautifully with the gorgeous vocals, resulting in a completely visceral musical and visual experience as enchanting to watch as any Italian bel canto. Performed in Western Armenian and filmed in Soviet Armenia by an Iranian-Armenian director, it is important to also see this film, charming as it is, as an exploration of different aspects of Armenian identity.
Directed by Arman Manaryan, who has also created many much-loved films such as ‘Tjvjik’ («Տժվժիկ»), and ‘Heghnar Aghbyur’ («Հեղնար աղբյուր»), the film was released in 1969 in Armenia.
The ‘’Armenian Nightingale’’, inimitable opera singer Gohar Gasparyan sings the part of ‘Karine’. Parts of both Armen and Markar are sung by another renowned singer, Tigran Levonyan, who also performs the part of Markar in the film.
‘Karine’ is based on ‘Leblebiji Hor-Hor Agha’ (The Chickpea Seller), an 1875 Turkish-language operetta by the prominent Ottoman-Armenian composer Dikran Chukhajian.
In March 2014, the London Armenian Opera staged Chukhajian’s operetta under the title ‘Garineh’ to great acclaim.