Symphonic Middle East · 2021

8:00 pm


Armenian State Symphony Orchestra




tenor • honorary guest (Malta)

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SAMIT Event Group in partnership with Dubai Opera present the 1st edition of the history of classical music, “Symphonic Middle East” festival which is aimed at identifying new cultural hubs and introducing the culture of classic music to every corner of the world. All the concerts will feature the talented 1st prize winners of the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition.

Opening of the “Symphonic Middle East” will feature one of the world’s top tenor Joseph Calleja. His expansive discography and frequent appearances on the world’s leading Opera and concert stages prompted NPR to hail him as “arguably today’s finest lyric tenor,” A Grammy-nominated recording artist for Decca Classics, he has released five solo albums for the label.

The concert will be performed by Armenian State Symphony Orchestra under the direction of renowned conductor Sergey Smbatyan. Sergey Smbatyan’s approach to programming recognizes the importance of creating harmonious combinations of works by different composers as well as the vital need to refresh the repertoire with attractive new music.

On the 19th of June musical masterpieces by European composers such as Giuseppe Verdi, Francesco Cilèa, Alexey Shor, Giacomo Puccini and many others will be performed.


Giuseppe Verdi

Overture to the Opera
“The Force of Destiny”

“Questa o quella”

The Duke of Mantua’s aria-ballade
from the Opera “Rigoletto”

Francesco Cilea

“E’ la solita storia del pastore”

Federico’s Aria
from the Opera
“The Arlesiana”

Alexey Shor

Arias and Songs
from “Crystal Palace” Suite

I Reisvegliati, Amore
II La gioia improvvisaite
III Vocalise No.1
IV Vocalise No.2



Giuseppe Verdi

Overture to the
Opera “Nabucco”

Jules Massenet

“Pourquoi me réveiller”

Werther's aria
from the Opera

Pietro Mascagni

from the Opera
“Cavalleria Rusticana”

Francesco Cilèa

“La dolcissima effigie”

Maurizio’s aria
from the Opera
“Adriana Lecouvreur”

Giacomo Puccini

"E lucevan le stelle"

Aria of Cavaradossi
from the Opera “Tosca”

Sergey Smbatyan

Acclaimed as a cultural leader in his native Armenia and increasingly in demand on the international stage, Sergey Smbatyan is founder, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra. In September 2019 he became Principal Conductor of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra following highly successful tours of Germany, Austria and the United States, including performances at the Berlin Philharmonie, Vienna’s Musikverein and Carnegie Hall.

Music’s power to unite, heal and inspire has driven and sustained Smbatyan since childhood. His mature artistic vision combines lessons learned from the best traditions of Russian music-making and a profound personal commitment to transforming lives through the shared experience of performing and listening. The charismatic conductor’s reputation with fellow musicians and critics alike flows from his technical command, the intensity with which he shapes and communicates musical ideas, the intelligence of his programming, and the spiritual richness and depth of his interpretations.

Sergey Smbatyan was eighteen when he founded the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra in 2006. He has overseen its transformation since from youth ensemble into one of Armenia’s finest professional orchestras. They began 2020 with a landmark European tour, complete with debut appearances at Vienna’s Musikverein, the Berlin Philharmonie, Salzburg’s Großes Festspielhaus, the Barbican Hall in London, Moscow’s Zaryadye Concert Hall, the Gasteig Munich, Stuttgart’s Beethoven Hall and Prague’s Rudolfinum.

Smbatyan’s guest conducting career has flourished in recent seasons, leading to concerts with Sinfonia Varsovia, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the Dresden Philharmonic, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra and, among others, the Orchestra of the Komische Oper Berlin. He returns to the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra during the 2020-21 season for a European tour comprising concerts at Wiesbaden’s Kurhaus and the Vienna Musikverein. His schedule also includes dates with the Malta Philharmonic, Russian National, Jerusalem Symphony and Royal Philharmonic orchestras as part of the 2021 Malta International Music Festival. Smbatyan will conduct the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra on its first UK tour in September 2021, presenting ten concerts at leading venues in company with Maxim Vengerov as soloist

Known for his imaginative programming, Smbatyan is a determined champion of new music and supporter of emerging talent. He is founder and artistic director of four music festivals in Armenia, Artistic Director of the Aram Khachaturian International Competition and, in October 2019, conducted the WTIC World Orchestra in the first ever concert of music composed by artificial intelligence (AI). His repertoire embraces everything from masterworks of the western symphonic literature to compelling scores by Armenian and other Eastern European composers, many of them commissioned by or specially written for him.

Born in Yerevan in 1987, Sergey Smbatyan showed exceptional musical promise as a child. He received his first violin lessons from his grandmother, Tatiana Hayrapetyan, and continued his training at the Komitas State Conservatory of Yerevan, the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory and with Zakhar Bron. He refined his conducting skills while studying for a PhD in fine arts at the Institute of Arts of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences and as a postgraduate student at London’s Royal Academy of Music, where he gained invaluable insights into the conductor’s art from Sir Colin Davis.

Sergey Smbatyan’s list of awards and prizes includes the title of Honoured Artist of the Republic of Armenia, presented by the President of the Republic of Armenia in recognition for his promotion of Armenian music and culture. In 2014 he became the youngest ever worker in the field of the arts and the first Armenian to be appointed Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture.

Joseph Calleja

Tenor • Honorary guest

Blessed with a golden-age voice that routinely inspires comparisons to “legendary singers from earlier eras: Jussi Björling, Beniamino Gigli, even Enrico Caruso” (Associated Press), Maltese-born Joseph Calleja has quickly become one of the most acclaimed and sought-after tenors today. His expansive discography and frequent appearances on the world’s leading opera and concert stages prompted NPR to hail him as “arguably today’s finest lyric tenor,” and led to his being voted Gramophone magazine’s 2012 Artist of the Year. A Grammy-nominated recording artist for Decca Classics, he has released five solo albums for the label.

 A sought-after concert soloist, Joseph Calleja can be heard on the best stages worldwide with his very broad repertoire: the Köln Philharmonie and Konzerthaus Dortmund, Open-Air Gala in front of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Chicago Lyric Opera, Verdi’s Luisa Miller and Vienna State Opera. On the concert stage, Joseph Calleja had solo concerts at the renowned festival in Peralada, Spain, followed by opera galas in Puerto Rico and at the Baden-Baden festival hall.  

He sang one of his signature roles, Mario Caravadossi (Tosca), at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and at the renowned Festival in Aix-en-Provence. Further he starred at the Bavarian State Opera, Deutsche Opera Berlin, Vienna State Opera. Likewise, at the Vienna State Opera, Calleja had his recital debut on the grand stage, followed by his recital debut at the Naples Opera in Florida.

Highlights from recent operatic seasons include the title characters in new productions of Faust and Les Contes d’Hoffmann at the Metropolitan Opera; Alfredo in La traviata opposite Renée Fleming, Adorno in Simone Boccanegra and many others.

Calleja has been profiled in New York’s Wall Street Journal and London’s Times, among other newspapers, and has graced covers of magazines such as Opera News.

He has appeared on such programs as CNN’s Business Traveller, BBC Breakfast, and the Andrew Marr Show, and been featured in numerous internationally televised concerts.

“Only one lyric tenor on the scene today has the honeyed tone and ingratiating style to make comparisons to Pavarotti and Gigli seem serious, and it is Calleja, the man from Malta, who … is now maturing into an artist of the first rank.”
– New Yorker

Armenian State Symphony Orchestra

Emerging from a group of lovers and devotees to classical music, the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra was created in 2005 by Sergey Smbatyan, the present Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the orchestra. From the very onset of its existence, the orchestra has been home to bright and energetic musicians, assembled around the shared vision of amplifying the cultural awareness in Armenia and elevating the spiritual excellence of human nature by the power of classical music.

The orchestra performs over 50 concerts annually, with a rich and multifarious repertoire covering multiple music genres and performance formats. Today, the 15-year-old orchestra has accrued both local and international reputation for its orchestral virtuosity and performing precision and has been spotlighted with many uplifting reviews by renowned critics and art reviewers.

The Armenian State Symphony Orchestra has been hosted by many reputable concert halls around the world, including Opera Garnier (Paris), Konzerthaus (Berlin), Dr. Anton Philipszaal (Hague), Tchaikovsky Concert Hall and the Great Hall of Conservatory (Moscow), Palais des Beaux-Arts (Brussels), Elbphilharmonie (Hamburg), Royal Theatre (Madrid), Dubai Opera House and others. It has been profiled a multitude of times with such world-class composers as Krzysztof Penderecki, Sir Karl Jenkins, Giya Kanchelli and Tigran Mansuryan as well as a number of highly distinguished performing artists. A remarkable chapter in the history of the orchestra was the 2020 European Tour with the renowned violin virtuoso and the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra artist-in-residence Maxim Vengerov with whom brilliant performances were hosted on famous stages around Europe- Berliner Philharmonie, Vienna's Musikverein, London's Barbican Center, Prague's Dvorak Hall, Salzburg's Grosses Festspielhaus, Moscow's Zaryadye Concert Hall and elsewhere.

The Armenian State Symphony Orchestra has a history of close relationships with world-scale artists, such as Valery Gergiev, Vladimir Spivakov, Maxim Vengerov, Denis Matsuev, Vadim Repin, Vag Papian, Boris Berezovsky, Zakhar Bron, stemming from the orchestra’s lifelong endeavor to bridge Eastern and Western musical traditions through its performances and networking with prominent figures of classical music.

Led by Sergey Smbatyan, the orchestra released its first CD under the title "Music is the Answer” in 2011. Recorded with the Sony records label, the CD includes works by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Dmitri Shostakovich and Eduard Hayrapetyan.

Aside from the extensive concert activity in Armenia and overseas, the orchestra also enjoys recognition and is highly esteemed for its increasing role in educating young people in Armenia. Since 2018, in the framework of DasA educational-cultural project the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra has been sparking interest and liking for classical music in high-school students across Armenia, with an attempt to galvanize a larger movement for cultivating noble insights and taste for classical music among the young generation. True to its commitment to foster access to classical music among all parts of the society and taking ownership of its social responsibilities, the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra frequently organizes charitable events and special projects in an attempt to engage people from different communities in the cultural life that largely unfolds away from them.

A number of orchestra’s concerts have been broadcast by, Euronews, and In 2019, a documentary was released by Mezzo TV, featuring Sergey Smbatyan and the history of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra.

The Armenian State Symphony Orchestra is represented worldwide by Only Stage.

| 20 June

Dubai Opera