Peres among Israeli fans attending Aznavour concert

The president is an avid Francophile who delights in all forms of French culture.

Charles Aznavour 370 (photo credit: Sivan Farag)
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 culture.
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.
Peres went 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 audience.
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 relations.
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.
They were 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 along.
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.