Hasmik Papian is an Armenian soprano. Papian was awarded the People's Artist of
Armenia title in 2004. Papian was named a Cultural ambassador of Armenia in the
World for her contributions to Armenian culture in 2005 by the Catholicos of the
Holy See of St. Echmiadzin and All Armenians Karekin IIand awarded the Order of
Saint Sahag and Saint Mesrob and Order of Saint Mesrop Mashdots. Papian has been
described as "the best Norma alive" by The Washington Post.
Hasmik Papian was born in Yerevan, Armenia on 2 September. Papian first began an
interest in music when she started playing the violin at the age of 5. Papian
graduated from Komitas Conservatory in Yerevan first as a violinist, then as a
singer. Her friends had encouraged her to explore her voice, and Tatevik
Sazandaryan, the head of the vocal department at the Conservatory, had told
Papian after hearing a few notes, that she had to sing.
After Papian's debut at the Armenian National Opera, she was invited as a
soloist by Opera Bonn and Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Düsseldorf, Germany. Soon,
Papian started an international career and has since appeared at numerous
theaters, including the most prestigious operatic stages and concert houses in
the world like The Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall in New York, San
Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera, La Scala of Milan,Opéra Bastille in
Paris, Gran Theatre del Liceu Barcelona, Teatro Real Madrid, London Wigmore
Hall, the Vienna State Opera and Musikverein Vienna, Concertgebouwand De
Nederlandse Opera Amsterdam, Zurich Opera, Mariinsky Theatre St. Petersburg, as
well as the state operas of Munich, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Dresden and Berlin.
Papian attributes her big break to winning the Belvedere Singing Competition in
Vienna in 1990. One of the prizes of the Belvedere competition was to sing from
her repertoire at the Grand Theatre in Warsaw. Papian had included Norma in her
stock of plays, though hadn't expected to sing it due to her youth and
inexperience. Papian accepted a last-minute offer to sing Norma at the Teatr
Wielki although she had never sung the part live before, and prepared in five
days’ notice, two brief rehearsal days, and a single orchestra rehearsal. Norma
would later become her signature role. Papian sang Norma for the first time in
Warsaw in 1993, where Giancarlo del Monaco, son of Mario Del Monaco, caught her
performance and offered her a contract with the Opera Bonn in Germany. And so
her professional career as an opera singer began. This very first contract was
for principal roles in Verdi’s La traviata, Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni,
and Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen. She sang Tosca for the first time at the Vienna
State Opera in 1995.
Papian currently lives in Vienna, Austria. Papian calls Yerevan her “beloved
city” and has said, “I never left Armenia. I almost look at my absence as a
business trip.” She visits her home country every year and plans to live in
Armenia at the end of her career.