Janna Blbulyan: “I am a songwriter, but I have always considered myself an actress…I really miss the theater”

The Armenian Diaspora has charmed and amazed the world several times in all spheres of life through the manifestations of the capacious and universal talents. Armenians live and create everywhere and are never detached from their roots, and it is the power of those roots that makes Armenians internationally recognized.

Our compatriots, musicians and songwriters, mother and daughter Janna Blbulyan and Nara Noyan, who have been living and creating abroad for years, are in Armenia for Nar Noyan’s concert and were hosted at the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia. First, I had an interview with well-known songwriter Janna Blbulyan for Hayern Aysor. There was a time when Janna Blbulyan was one of Armenia’s best performing artists. She is an actress who remembers her career and her roles with longing.

Karine Avagyan: Perhaps we should start from your career, Janna…

Janna Blbulyan: Yes, you are right. For almost 20 years, I have played the leading roles at Hakob Paronyan State Musical Comedy Theater. Before that, I had played at the Dramatic Theater. When I visited France for the third time due to circumstances, I didn’t return to Armenia because my grandson was born. I have been living in France for the past 25 years. Of course, one has to speak the language of a foreign country fluently in order to perform on stage. I speak French fluently, and even my acquaintances tell me that I have no problem, but I rely on my inner voice and find that the speech heard on stage must be perfect. As far as music is concerned, it is a language in itself and a language that everyone understands.

Karine Avagyan: Mrs. Blbulyan, how and when did you come onto the music scene?

Janna Blbulyan: Since there was no theater, and an actor needs to perform in a theater, I established close ties with my pianist. I am also a professional musician, and we both created melodies together. During a visit to Yerevan, I introduced my brother, famous poet and journalist Levon Blbulyan to one of my melodies. He liked it a lot and asked if I had more, and I said there were many…This is how our collaboration began. He wrote the lyrics, and I composed the music. Our song was created the next morning and was called “Spring of Return”. The collaboration continued, and we composed many beautiful songs. I have over 200 songs, most of which I have composed with Levon. About two years ago, we released an album, which features our 40 songs. When I was in France, I also worked with many poets, who were mainly Frenchmen.

Karine Avagyan: Nevertheless, even if you have worked with French poets, one can surely feel the breath of an Armenian in your melodies. Do foreigners understand it? Do they love your songs?

Janna Blbulyan: They love it a lot! They love the nuances in Armenian music. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t continue to collaborate with me. There have been wonderful occasions to work with remarkable singers and musicians who have played a major role in my life. The legendary performer of the famous song “Lambada” Loalva Braz, who had been told about me, came to Paris to meet and collaborate with me. She stayed at my house in Paris for a month. We became very close, started writing songs together, and she loved my melodies. In 2004, she came to Yerevan to participate in my concert and performed three songs.

Karine Avagyan: Doesn’t Levon get jealous when you compose melodies based on the lyrics of other poets?

Janna Blbulyan: I have heard that question in the past. Levon has replied that he also collaborates with other musicians and doesn’t get jealous when I collaborate with other writers, meaning he doesn’t consider it “betrayal”.

Karine Avagyan: Which works of classical Armenian writers have you touched upon?

Janna Blbulyan: We Armenians have many writers who have written poems that are melodic, but I haven’t touched upon them yet because there is a poet like Levon Blbulyan. I am planning on touching upon the works of classical Armenian poets that I prefer.

Karine Avagyan: You have temporarily left your Homeland. Will you ever return to Armenia, or have you achieved so much success and become so clung to France that it will be hard for you to return?

Janna Blbulyan: I am considering it. Recently, I have been thinking about it a lot because you can never feel as complete as you feel at home.

Karine Avagyan: Mrs. Blbulyan, you are in Armenia. Doesn’t your beloved theater call you?

Janna Blbulyan: Today I will visit the theater, meet my colleagues and watch a play. I really miss the theater. True, I have composed several songs and am currently in the world of music, but I have always considered myself an actress. I am an artist in essence.

Karine Avagyan: Don’t you regret guiding your daughter to the world of arts as well?

Janna Blbulyan: Both my son and daughter are artists in essence. My son writes wonderful songs and texts and also arranges the music for those songs. He is more gifted than us. As far as Nara is concerned, she was born to be an actress. When she starred in Frunze Dovlatyan’s film “Longing”, Dovlatyan was charmed by her perfect acting. Nara is a musician, singer, actress and creator, but she is more focused on singing now. Nara is devoted to the stage. She petrifies and charms the audience with her transformation on stage. She is a full-grown and successful musician, and I never regret leading her in that direction. God guided her.

Karine Avagyan: Why Nara Noyan? Does it have anything to do with Noyan (Noah)? Is it a pseudonym?

Janna Blbulyan: No! Nara’s father’s last name is Mnoyan, but people can’t pronounce the last name correctly in the field of performing arts, much less abroad. So, we took out the “M” and were left with “Noyan”.

Karine Avagyan: What are your plans?

Janna Blbulyan: I am getting ready to give a solo concert in Armenia in September. I will be performing my songs and the songs based on my lyrics. I also plan on recording a duet with Levon and performing it on stage.

Karine Avagyan: What is the song of your soul that wholly and deeply expresses all that you experience in your inner world?

Janna Blbulyan: Charles Aznavour’s “La Boheme”. If I was a singer, I would perform all the songs of Komitas.

Interview by Karine Avagyan

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