Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian is an eagerly anticipated visitor to opera houses and concert halls the world over. A winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 1997 — the same year she graduated from the University of Toronto cum laude with a Biomedical Engineering Degree — Ms. Bayrakdarian thereafter found her career taking rapid wing. In 1999 she scored a notable success in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s world premiere pro-duction of William Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge; the following year, she walked away from Plácido Domingo’s prestigious Operalia competition with first prize. More debuts followed, including her San Francisco Opera debut, as Valencienne in The Merry Widow, and her Metropolitan Opera debut, in the New York premiere of Bolcom’s opera; a season later, she won plaudits as Teresa in the Met premiere of Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini. Mozart has become a specialty: Zerlina in Don Giovanni (New York, Houston, Salzburg), Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro (Los Angeles, London), and Pamina in The Magic Flute (New York, Toronto). Her roles at Toronto’s Canadian Opera Company range from Gluck’s Euridice to Debussy’s Mélisande to Poulenc’s Blanche in Dialogues des Carmélites; and away from Canada, she has shone as Monteverdi’s Poppea in Barcelona, Handel’s Romilda (Serse) in Dresden, and Janáček’s Vixen in New York, Florence, and the Saito Kinen Festival in Matsumoto, Japan.
But opera is only one page of the Bayrakdarian résumé. An ever-active concertizer, she’s appeared with the premier orchestras of New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, RAI Torino, Paris, London, Vienna, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal under the baton of such eminent conductors as Seiji Ozawa, James Conlon, David Zinman, Michael Tilson Thomas, Alan Gilbert, Nicholas McGegan, Christoph von Dohnányi, Christoph Eschenbach, Colin Davis, Sir Andrew Davis, Nikolaus Harnon- court, Mariss Jansons, Leonard Slatkin, James Levine, Anne Manson, Bramwell Tovey, Peter Oundjian and Richard Bradshaw.
The versatile Bayrakdarian is featured vocal soloist on the Grammy-award winning soundtrack of the blockbuster film The Two Towers from The Lord of The Rings trilogy and on the soundtrack of Atom Egoyan’s Ararat; a trance music collaboration with the electronica band Delerium that garnered yet another Grammy nomination. She sings on the BBC-produced short film HOLOCAUST – A Music Memorial Film from Auschwitz, as well as on her Gemini-nominated film Long Journey Home, documenting her first visit to her ancestral homeland, Armenia.
Bayrakdarian is the winner of four consecutive Juno Awards for Best Classical Album (Vocal). She is also the recipient of many awards including the Marilyn Horne Foundation Competition Award, Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee and the Diamond Jubilee Medals, the Arbor Award from the University of Toronto, the George London Foundation Award, and Canada Council’s Virginia Parker Prize. She is also the recipient of the “St Sahag-St Mesrob” medal and the “St Mesrob Mashdots” medal.
She holds an Honorary Doctorate from Wilfrid Laurier University, and an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal Conservatory of Music. Ms. Bayrakdarian currently serves on the Voice Faculty at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB).
Mother Of Light
Armenian hymns and chants in praise of Mary
Isabel Bayrakdarian, soprano
Soprano sorceress Isabel Bayrakdarian, acclaimed internationally for her glittering accomplishments on both stage and screen, presents – in this hypnotically alluring album of Armenian sacred music – a more spiritual aspect of her multifaceted musical persona.
Isabel conceived this project as a heartfelt gift to God for sparing the life of her mother, and the entire album is very much a “family affair.” Her husband arranged the pieces, her brother plays the ceremonial percussion instruments, and her two sisters join her to form a vocal trio in several tracks.