Charles Aznavour 370.
(photo credit: Sivan Farag)
While only 10,000 Israelis were able to get tickets for Saturday night’s Charles
Aznavour concert at Tel Aviv’s Nokia Arena, which was sold out well in advance,
Aznavour himself was just as keen to meet a famous Israeli. Long before his
arrival in Israel, Aznavour’s people had been in touch with the office of
President Shimon Peres with a request for a meeting between the president and
the famous French singer.
Peres, of course, acceded to Aznavour’s
request, not just because of his fame or their shared history, but primarily
because he is an avid Francophile who delights in all forms of French
His appetite for all things French had been whetted earlier last
week by the amount of time in different venues and under different circumstances
that he had spent with French President Francois Hollande.
backstage to meet with Aznavour prior to the performance, which may have
accounted for the reason that Aznavour was a little late in meeting with his
Aznavour, who at 89 (he turns 90 next May) is just a year
younger than the president, complimented Peres on his appearance, his energy his
efforts in the quest for peace.
At a news conference at the Dan Hotel, at
which he was staying, Aznavour said he supported the peace process between
Israel and the Palestinians, and he had hoped to perform in the Palestinian
territories as well.
Both Peres and Aznavour are amazingly fit for their
ages: Aznavour swims, while Peres exercises every day. The two men spent half an
hour discussing music, literature, culture and the importance of French-Israel
Both would have been happy to prolong the conversation, but
Aznavour had a duty to the lovers of French chanson, who were getting ready for
a night of nostalgia.
Though he has visited Israel previously, Aznavour,
one of the most successful and prolific stage and recording artists in the
world, had never before performed in Israel, and the fans, including Peres, who
later took his seat in the audience, couldn’t wait to hear him.
not disappointed. During a twohour concert, accompanied by an orchestra and
back-up singers, the charismatic Aznavour sang a medley of his most famous
songs, including “She,” which he performed together with Israeli singer Achinoam
Nini (she in Hebrew, and he in French). The audience, including Peres, sang
Aznavour, who has composed some 1,000 songs and sold more than 100
million records, was voted as “Entertainer of the Century” by CNN in 1998.