Archive for the ‘russia’ Tag

The Cultural Phenom of the National “Diva”

Thanks (again) to Vinyl Divas, I discovered the singer “Gohar Gasparyan.” I youtubed her, simply because her name was so eccentric, and her mug not exactly the prettiest. I immediately smelled a camp classic discovery. Well, I was both wrong, and right. Turns out, she was very lovingly considered “The Armenian Nightingale.” It struck me that each country or culture seems to have their divathe one considered to be the greatest, and to inspire and somehow embody the spirit of the nation.

Here’s a look at some of the biggies. Some of these names immediately came to mind, but a few took a little more digging. Some are genuine classics, and a couple (ie: Gohar and Yma) have one foot firmly (if unintentionally) in camp. One of the qualifications of a true diva is a title, nickname, or single name (ala Cher), as most all of them prove. Pathos is a requirement, and often a tragic life and/or death the deal maker for that highest rung of fame in posterity. In some cases, an operatic diva reaches this highest level of mainstream public adoration, but only in those cases did I include them here. Of course, the diva phenom and the gay sensibility are inextricably linked, and although that is surely part of my own inspiration, it is not the focus here.

Armenia


Gohar Gasparyan (’24 – ’07): “The Armenian Nightingale”

“In ’48, she migrated to Soviet Armenia, along with hundreds of thousands of other Armenians from the Middle East.” Upon her death, she was billed “The greatest master of the Armenian Opera Theater, the People’s Artist of the USSR, the hero of the Social Labor, the National Artist of Armenia, the Mesrop Mashtots order-bearer, and the professor of the Yerevan State Konservatory after Komitas.” In her prime, she displayed beautiful control and range:

This video ofO beau pays from Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots shows she had the chops, but no technical or interpretive greatness in western opera to qualify her as a true operatic legend outside of Armenian rep. She delivers priceless camp at 7:05, with a shameless peekaboo that will have you rolling! As with all true divas, she was still worshipped in her later years, when her voice and body were in decline, because her heart and expressivity were at their most potent (the accidental whistle on her “sh” consonants is precious).

Continuing Discovering National Divas —>

Olympic Reigns Ending: Likelihoods or Naysaying?

While I’m on the subject of Olympic pairs skating (ie: Shen & Zhao), I was doing a little poking around to see what kind sort of history-making we’re likely to witness in Vancouver, barring any miracles…which I’m always open to! That’s why I’m calling these “likelihoods”, not “predictions”.

2010 Olympics Logo Ice SculptureMy focus here is just on medal trends per country, and which countries have historically reigned in various divisions. (It’s WAY too early to purport any individual medal predictions.) A lot of these thoughts have certainly been floated online, but I really wanted to dig up and share the stats, to express the gravity of it.

Frankly, I prefer to see the spotlight passed around. For example, I think the recent upsurge (a new reign?) by ladies from Asian countries has been a welcome evolution, giving them their “moment”, but also offering the sport and other skaters a healthy push towards further growth.

Russian (URS/EUN) Gold Reigns

Russian Flag

The only complete stranglehold any one country has had on a single Olympic division over three or more decades is in pairs. However, unless the chinese teams and Savchenko & Szolkowy (GER) spend the competition on their asses, it will likely be the first time since 1960 that the pairs champions are not Russian (URS/EUN), discluding the ’02 Skategate scandal, in which two sets of gold medals were awarded. (Yes, Savchenko is Russian by birth, but that doesn’t count.) Just to clarify, I’m not a Russia-hater, but I’d prefer a single country (including the US) not to completely dominate a division like this.

Also, we are likely to see the end of their impressive five-Olympic reign of the men’s title. The recent champions have been: Victor Petrenko (EUN, ‘92), Alexei Urmanov (‘94), Ilia Kulik (‘98), Alexei Yagudin (‘02), Evgeni Plushenko (‘06).

Torvill & Dean (‘84) and Anissina & Peizerat (‘02) already put a kabosh on a Russian reign in ice dance. (Yes, Anissina is Russian by birth, but that doesn’t count either.)

US Podium Reign

American FlagAnd, finally, it may also be the first time in 11 Olympics (40+ years…yes, that’s since ’64) that an American lady doesn’t make it to the podium. I hate to be a naysayer, but the top four ladies at ’09 Worlds looked unbeatable. And, PLEASE proove me wrong!

BTW, I spied some cute Vancouver Games wallpaper here.

 

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