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Isabela Bayrakdarian

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#1 ED



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Posted 02 February 2004 - 11:16 PM

I had the privilege of seeing her performance in Toronto in 2002 “Julius Caesar” opera, where she was in the role of “Cleopatra”. It was a delight to my ears and she earned 20 min of standing ovation in the end, her magnificent voice captured me as well as the audience. Proud of her Armenian heritage and roots Miss. Bayrakdarian is one the top sopranos now days.


First prize winner of the prestigious Plácido Domingo "Operalia" Competition in 2000 and a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee medal, Canadian Armenian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian made an impressive series of appearances in the 2002/2003 season, including debuts at the Paris Opera (Bastille) as Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, as Catherine in A View from the Bridge at the Metropolitan Opera, Zerlina in Don Giovanni at the Salzburg Festival, Elisa in Il Re Pastore at Brussel's Theatre de la Monnaie, and Clorinda in Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda at Los Angeles Opera. Her numerous concerts and recital appearances took her to New York, Berkeley, Costa Mesa, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Cyprus.

Miss Bayrakdarian's other recent North American performances have included Servilia in La Clemenza di Tito with Santa Fe Opera, Valencienne in The Merry Widow at the San Francisco Opera, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte with the Cincinnati Opera, and at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Catherine in the World Premiere of William Bolcom's A View from the Bridge, as well as Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. For the Canadian Opera Company, she has sung the roles of Cleopatra in Handel's Giulio Cesare, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, and Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia.

Miss Bayrakdarian's past European performances have included her Italian debut at Milan's Teatro alla Scala in Bernstein's West Side Story, Romilda in Handel's Serse at the Opéra de Montpellier and the Dresden Semperoper, Cleopatra in Hasse's Marc'Antonio e Cleopatra at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, and Emilia in Handel's Flavio at the Badisches Staatstheater in Karlsruhe, Germany.

In addition to her recital work, Miss Bayrakdarian has an extensive concert repertoire. She opened the National Arts Centre's 2001/2002 season in a Gala concert with artists Yo Yo Ma and Pinchas Zuckerman. Her appearances also included Mahler 4th Symphony with the Pittsburgh Symphony conducted by Mariss Jansons, Messiah with Les Violons du Roy, and triumphant recitals in New York (Carnegie Hall), Boston, Vancouver, and Toronto.

Miss Bayrakdarian can be heard on the Grammy Award winning soundtrack of the blockbuster movie The Two Towers, the second installment in The Lord of The Rings trilogy, as well as the multiple award-winning Canadian movie Ararat. When Miss Bayrakdarian's debut recording "Joyous Light" was released in March 2002 on the CBC label, it went straight to No. 1 in the classical charts across Canada. She has also recorded Villa-Lobos' Bachianas Brasilieras No. 5 for CBC Television, for which she earned a Gemini nomination, Rachmaninov's Vocalise for Bravo Arts Television, and Canada's CTV Network featured her in a documentary. Her second recording with the CBC - a Spanish/South American project - will be released in the spring of 2003.

Miss Bayrakdarian has been the recipient of many grants, including a Canada Council Grant, the Sullivan Foundation Grant, the 2000 Leonie Rysanek Award from the George London Foundation, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Award in 1997.

During the 2003/2004 season, Ms. Bayrakdarian will return to Chicago Lyric Opera and Los Angeles Opera as Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, and to the Metropolitan Opera as Teresa in Benvenuto Cellini. She will make her San Diego Opera debut as Leila in Les Pêcheurs de Perles and will perform recitals and concerts in Toronto with Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Tafelmusik (which will be recorded for her 3rd CD with CBC Records), Vancouver, New York, Minnesota, Atlanta and San Francisco

Edited by Edward, 02 February 2004 - 11:32 PM.

#2 hyebruin



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Posted 04 February 2004 - 05:39 PM

she does sound angelic!! smile.gif

#3 koko



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Posted 05 February 2004 - 10:42 AM

ohmy.gif Beautiful voice rolleyes.gif

Edited by koko, 05 February 2004 - 10:43 AM.

#4 vava



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Posted 05 February 2004 - 12:51 PM

You're right Edward! She's quite wonderful.
You can see what the CBC said about here in THIS THREAD. smile.gif

#5 ED



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Posted 05 February 2004 - 01:16 PM

QUOTE (vava @ Feb 5 2004, 10:51 AM)
You're right Edward! She's quite wonderful.
You can see what the CBC said about here in THIS THREAD. smile.gif

Yes Vava indeed, and during intermision wile having champain I engadged in an conversation with an older couple, as they were telling me, "we have the most talanted of all Armenians here in Canada". smile.gif very impresive performance, love to see her again.

#6 Yervant1


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Posted 02 August 2021 - 07:13 AM

Arts Fuse
July 29 2021
Classical Album Review: “The Other Cleopatra”—Three Major Opera Composers Bring Us the Forgotten Queen of Armenia

JULY 29, 2021 

By Ralph P. Locke

A delightful recording — and the first ever! — of arias from Hasse’s and Gluck’s operas about Tigranes and Cleopatra of Pontus. Plus four arias by Vivaldi for that same Cleopatra.

Isabel Bayrakdarian, soprano.
Kaunas City Symphony, cond. Constantine Orbelian.
Delos DE 3591


Here at Arts Fuse I recently drew attention to a remarkably effective opera about Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, by a late 19th-century Danish composer, August Enna.

Along comes a single well-packed CD of arias from three important operas about a different Cleopatra: Cleopatra of Pontus (born 110 BCE, died after 58 BCE), the daughter of King Mithridates VI of Pontus — the conqueror of much of what is today Turkey — and, eventually, Queen Consort of King Tigranes the Great of Armenia (in Armenian: Tigran II or Tigran Mets).

The singer is the renowned lyric soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, who carried out scholarly research for the project at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she is on the voice faculty.

Bayrakdarian comes from an Armenian family that moved to Canada from Lebanon when she was a teenager. Opera lovers around the world have encountered her artistry on stage, CD, or video, in works by such composers as Mozart, Rossini, Debussy, Poulenc, and Bolcom. Millions of film fans enjoyed her (off-screen) singing in the Lord of the Rings without realizing who she was.

Back in 2005, Bayrakdarian gave due honor to the more famous (non-Armenian) Cleopatra in a CD released by the CBC. The richly informed John Barker declared in American Record Guide: “Nobody who loves great operatic singing and great baroque opera should miss this release.”

The three operas sampled on this new CD all treat a single topic: the love between Tigrane (who is at this point an Armenian prince; I give the characters’ names in their Italian form) and “the other Cleopatra” (to quote the CD’s title), a love that her father, Mitridate, who is Tigrane’s enemy, attempts in various ways to block.

We hear excerpts from Vivaldi’s setting (1724, for Rome), as well as from two operas by German-speaking composers active in Italy: Johann Adolph Hasse (1729, for Naples) and Christoph Willibald Gluck (1743, for the small city of Crema). The latter two works have not previously been recorded. For that reason alone, the disc commends itself to fans of 18th-century opera. These two works use the same libretto: Il Tigrane: La virtù trionfante dell’amore (Love’s Power at Triumphing [over Obstacles]), by Francesco Silvani (1660-1728). The Vivaldi — according to authoritative studies by Reinhard Strohm — uses a libretto by Pietro Andrea Bernardoni. (Bayrakdarian’s booklet-essay, oddly, treats the Vivaldi as yet another setting of the Silvani.)

One doesn’t have to be a specialist collector to take delight in the music-making here. Bayrakdarian, a magnificent singer, has maintained all the beauty and steadiness of her voice despite the passing of some years. Clearly, she has figured out what roles to take on and what ones to avoid. It must have been tempting for her to try Tosca, but she has apparently resisted, to our profit!

One of the fascinating aspects of this disc is hearing three different composers writing in roughly the same style during roughly the same era but with different temperaments and, to some extent, different musical means. Two oboes and two horns suddenly appear in the Gluck excerpts, reminding us that his opera is 19 years later than Vivaldi’s and that by this point Haydn was already beginning to compose.

Bayrakdarian and conductor Constantine Orbelian adjust their tempi and style sensitively to match the shifting emotions that Princess Cleopatra traverses as she reacts to such things as her father’s impending marriage to her own rival Apamia, or her beloved Tigrane’s declaration that he will die in battle against her stubborn father rather than live without her — but that, he insists, she should live on.

on-stage-bg.jpgRenowned lyric soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian. Photo: On Stage.

Unlike some early-music singers today, Bayrakdarian’s voice is full and rounded at both the top and bottom, and she never takes tempos so fast that the musical line gets shattered into a series of consonantal explosions. One can listen to this disc for pleasure, repeatedly, whether paying attention to the words or not.

Fine instrumental support is given by the Kaunas City Symphony (in Lithuania) and renowned harpsichordist Jory Vinikour. The disc is available through numerous retailers and streaming services (such as Spotify). You can hear the beginning of each of its tracks here.

Listening to this opera about the (future) ruling couple of ancient Armenia led me to become more familiar with the history of that land and people. During the days of the Roman Empire, Armenia became a major power, under — precisely — Tigranes the Great. Several hundred years later, under Tiridates III (in Armenian, Trdat), it would become the earliest state to accept Christianity as its official religion. That major shift could perhaps provide the basis for a good new oratorio, opera, or film!

Ralph P. Locke is emeritus professor of musicology at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music. Six of his articles have won the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for excellence in writing about music. His most recent two books are Musical Exoticism: Images and Reflections and Music and the Exotic from the Renaissance to Mozart (both Cambridge University Press). Both are now available in paperback; the second, also as an e-book. Ralph Locke also contributes to American Record Guide and to the online arts-magazines New York ArtsOpera Today, and The Boston Musical Intelligencer. His articles have appeared in major scholarly journals, in Oxford Music Online (Grove Dictionary), and in the program books of major opera houses, e.g., Santa Fe (New Mexico), Wexford (Ireland), Glyndebourne, Covent Garden, and the Bavarian State Opera (Munich).


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