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Cinderella For A Night: Russia's Singing Babushka Meets French Idol Aznavour

  • Daisy Sindelar

Babushka Lida meets her idol, singer Charles Aznavour, backstage in a Moscow concert hall.

Babushka Lida meets her idol, singer Charles Aznavour, backstage in a Moscow concert hall.

Not all Russian fairy tales have happy endings.

But this week offered a welcome exception when "Babushka Lida" -- the real-life grandmother discovered in the Moscow metro last month swooning over a photo of French-Armenian crooner Charles Aznavour -- got to meet her idol in the flesh.

Wearing a blue head scarf and clutching a tidy rose bouquet, 73-year-old Lidia Ivanovna -- who goes by her nickname, Lida -- was ushered backstage at a Moscow concert hall and introduced to Aznavour, 90, after his one-night performance of classic hits like "How Sad Venice Can Be."

A video shot by Aznavour's publicists and posted on Russia's Dozhd news site shows the diminutive singer cordially greeting Babushka Lida in French, patting her on the arm, and handing her a large bouquet of red roses. She then hands him her smaller bouquet and asks him to autograph a CD of his songs.

"He's such a famous person, but he's so modest," Lida enthuses to the camera as Aznavour takes pains to ensure her name was spelled correctly.

(Translation of tweet: Babushka Lida is such a sweetheart!)

Despite referring to herself repeatedly as a "simple babushka," Lida appears completely unfazed by the proximity of Aznavour, who along with Joe Dassin and Mireille Mathieu is among a small circle of French singers particularly beloved by Russians.

At one point, Babushka Lida even unabashedly breaks into song, performing a spirited section from the song Igrushka, or Toy, from the 1976 French comedy of the same name. That in turn leads to her rendition of the love song from another popular film, Umbrellas Of Cherbourg.

Aznavour listens intently, if a bit wearily, then points out that Cherbourg composer Michel Legrand also has Armenian roots.

"Like me!" he says, perking up.

"You're also a composer and a singer?" Lida asks.

Aznavour, the author of 1,200 songs, responds: "I do it all."

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