Variations on a Gypsy Theme

Il faut boire jusqu’a l’ivresse

Sa jeunesse


Shahnour Vaghinak Aznavourian*

A boy on a trolley bus sees a girl. Every day. He is silent and shy. She is silent and mysterious. One day he finds an excuse to start a conversation. They walk and keep talking. He is in a flying dream. He gets the address.

A bunch of flowers in hand, the boy turns the corner into a little empty piazza. A raspy French voice sings “amour” with rrrr’s leaving no room for tomorrow. This is the house and the door. He is about to ring. Too late. The door swings open, a little old woman with a china plate bursts out, puts the plate on the steps. The French voice is washed away by Mendelssohn: “TAA-ta, ta-TA-ta, TA-ta..”. The beautiful bride steps on the plate. The groom steps too. The wedding party pours out. The boy is shifted aside, noticed by nobody. In this dream he is invisible.   

The piazza is empty again. The flowers are wilted. The French voice returns. Now it sings in Russian: “…rrraz, eshche raz, eshche mnogo, mnogo, mnogo mnogo, mnogo raz…

The year is 1964, Tbilisi.  Gogi Kavtaradze in “Svadba” by Mikheil Kobakhidze.

Fast forward 42 years. Boston Opera House, 2006. A silver-haired short Frenchman in black is on stage. He has the audience in trance clapping as one. The song starts in English and continues in French. There are a lot of Armenian faces around. Two blondes, back up singers, are swaying to the beat. And now it’s coming: “eshche mnogo, mnogo, mnogo, mnogo, mnogo raz…

Charles Aznavour, 82, is on his “farewell” tour.

* “Youth should be drunk to the bottom of the bottle” – from the song “Sa jeunesse” written by Aznavour at the age of 16.