"The Illuminator", opera on the life of St. Gregory of Armenia

December 14, 2016

On April 4, 2017, my new opera, "The Illuminator", will be premiered in Yerevan, Armenia!

The librettist for The Illuminator is Andrea Mellis, a singer and director (and now my wife) with many productions to her name (see http://andreamellis.com), and the cast will consist of 2 adult professional performers and about 50 children. Andrea has done several operatic productions with child singers and actors, including the Austrian premiere of Britten's "Noyes Fludde". We were in Yerevan last October to audition singers and as usual were stunned by the quality of the voices we heard. There must be something in the water, for Armenians all seem to have exquisite voices!

Historically, Gregory was imprisoned in a hole in the ground for many years. The opera concerns itself with what sustains a person in such a position, what faith, visions, memories might he have had to keep him alive? Legend has it that he was brought food and water by an elderly widow, so she and Gregory will be the only adults in the production. The children will play insects, angels, apricot pickers, cranes (the national bird of Armenia), even the King who imprisoned Gregory. On our last visit, we went to Khor Virap, where Gregory languished, and descended into the deep and dreadful hole. I don't think I would have survived 13 (some legends say 14) years down there. The photo shows the monastery at Khor Virap with Mt. Ararat in the background. For more details, to download the Piano Reduction of the score (and Andrea's delightful libretto), and to hear midi realisations of each scene, please go to http://ronhannah.com/The_Illuminator.php

To my knowledge this will be the first Canadian opera to be performed outside of North America. Please let me know if this is not the case. I know that Harry Somers' "Louis Riel" has been performed in the United States.

"The Illuminator" will be performed by the State Chamber Orchestra of Armenia, conducted by Harutyun Arzumanyan, at the Paronian Theatre in Yerevan.