Isabel Bayrakdarian
Isabel Bayrakdarian

Isabel Bayrakdarian

About Isabel Bayrakdarian

Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian is an unusually versatile singer, active in opera, classical concert and choral music, the music of the Armenian tradition, film music, and pop and crossover styles. Of Armenian background, she has devoted a significant part of her career to Armenian music, although she did not visit Armenia until adulthood.
Bayrakdarian was born in Zahlé, in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, on February 1, 1974. Her Armenian family moved to Canada when she was a teenager. Bayrakdarian attended the University of Toronto, earning a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering in 1997. She switched to singing after winning a Metropolitan Opera National Council Award that year, and in 1998, she took classes at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California, taking home the school's inaugural Marilyn Horne Foundation Vocal Competition. That was the first of several awards she won; others have included the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, the Moyses Khronenatsi Medal (Armenia's highest cultural honor), and, in Canada, four consecutive Juno Awards for Best Classical Album. Bayrakdarian's career took off quickly in the early 2000s, leading her to appearances in many of the world's top opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, the Paris Opera, and La Scala in Milan. Her operatic repertory runs from Handel to William Bolcom's contemporary A View from the Bridge. Bayrakdarian's work extends into many other realms. She has sung concert and choral music under such conductors as Michael Tilson Thomas, Christoph von Dohnányi, and Christoph Eschenbach.
Bayrakdarian has been heard on various film soundtracks, including The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (in the track "Evenstar"). Her film work includes A Long Journey Home (2008), a film about her first visit to Armenia, and she has toured North America with a program featuring the music of Armenian composer Komitas Vardapet. Bayrakdarian has recorded for the CBC, Analekta, and Delos labels, among several others, issuing operatic recordings, crossover albums such as Tango Notturno (2008), and albums of Armenian music. In 2020, Bayrakdarian issued The Other Cleopatra, focusing on arias about the Armenian queen Tigrane. Bayrakdarian is on the voice faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara. ~ James Manheim

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