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Jury 2010

Chant classique
Isabel Bayrakdarian

“A soprano voice that combines lyricism with remarkable dramatic instincts” ─ Time

Isabel Bayrakdarian burst onto the international opera scene after winning first prize in the 2000 Operalia competition founded by Plácido Domingo. Since then she has performed in many of the world's major opera houses and concert halls. She is admired as much for her stunning stage presence as for her exceptional musicality, and she has followed a career path completely her own.

In the 2009-2010 season Ms. Bayrakdarian reprises the title role in The Cunning Little Vixen with Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino with Seiji Ozawa, and sings her role debut as Ilia in Idomeneo at the Paris Opera and the Canadian Opera Company under Emmanuelle Haïm and Harry Bicket respectively. Additionally, she makes her debut with Minnesota Opera in her acclaimed portrayal as Leïla in Les pêcheurs de perles. She also appears in recital with her husband, pianist Serouj Kradjian, with Cornell University, Sunday Afternoons of Music in Coral Gables, Florida, and the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto at the recently renovated Koerner Hall at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

Operatic highlights of Ms. Bayrakdarian’s recent seasons include her role debut of Mélisande in Pélleas et Mélisande at the Canadian Opera Company, the title role in The Cunning Little Vixen at the Saito Kinen Festival under the baton of Seiji Ozawa, the title role of L’incoronazione di Poppea at Teatro del Liceu, and her role debut as Blanche in Robert Carsen’s production of Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites at the Lyric Opera of Chicago with Sir Andrew Davis. A consummate Mozartarian, she has appeared as Zerlina in Don Giovanni and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte at the Metropolitan Opera, Zerlina at the Salzburg Festival, Despina in Cosi fan tutte at the Palau de les Arts in Valencia, and Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro at Covent Garden and the Houston Grand Opera.

In the 2008-2009 season Ms. Bayrakdarian toured North America at such prestigious organizations such as Carnegie Hall, San Francisco Performances, Celebrity Series of Boston, Philharmonic Society of Orange County, Roy Thomson Hall, and the Vancouver Symphony with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra conducted by Anne Manson performing the works of Armenian composer Gomidas Vartabed in a program created by she and Mr. Kradjian. Additional appearances on the orchestral platform, include performances with the orchestras in San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, as well as at home in Canada with the Toronto Symphony, Tafelmusik, Les Violons du Roy, the National Arts Centre Orchestra and other major Canadian performing organizations, as well as with numerous groups in Europe. Other orchestral appearances included debuts with the Chicago and Montreal Symphonies – both in the Mahler Fourth Symphony – under David Zinman and James Conlon respectively. She has also participated in tango concerts at Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts and at Stratford Summer Music. She collaborated in the world-premiere of Jake Heggie and Gene Sheer’s one-act opera To Hell and Back with Broadway legend Patti LuPone and San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.

Often partnered with Mr. Kradjian, Ms. Bayrakdarian has triumphed in recital in New York’s Carnegie Hall, Berkeley, Boston, San Francisco, and elsewhere in the United States. Additionally they have toured Canada together, in such cities as Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, and Ottawa, as well as major cities in Europe and Asia. Of Ms. Bayrakdarian’s March 2008 Carnegie Hall appearance, the New York Sun commented that “she is a solid, smart, and well-prepared singer. And she gave a most enjoyable — even instructive — recital on Saturday night. Indeed, you could say that her recital did what a voice recital ought to do: provide a kind of tour, and showcase the talents and personality of a winning artist.”

Ms. Bayrakdarian sings on the Grammy® award-winning soundtrack of the blockbuster film The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers, and her voice can also be heard in the multiple award-winning Canadian film Ararat. She has been honored with four Juno awards, Canada’s highest recording prize, most recently for her CD Mozart arie & duetti with fellow Canadians Russell Braun and Michael Schade. Expanding her vast discography, Ms. Bayrkdarian was a guest soloist with the Canadian band Delerium on their 2007 Grammy® nominated dance remix “Angelicus.” Ms. Bayrakdarian is the subject of a CBC-TV film entitled A Long Journey Home that documents her first trip to Armenia; on another trip there she recorded a disc of songs by the country’s national composer, Gomidas Vartabed (1869-1935), with Serouj Kradjian and the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra which is available on the Nonesuch label and was a 2009 Grammy® nominee.

Ms. Bayrakdarian has received many grants and other awards in addition to the First Prize in the Operalia: four Juno awards, the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, the 2005 Virginia Parker Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Leonie Rysanek Award from the George London Foundation, and a Metropolitan Opera National Council Award in 1997.

Born in Lebanon of proud Armenian heritage and now a citizen of Canada, Ms. Bayrakdarian moved with her family to Toronto as a teenager. Her earliest singing experience was at church, which remains – along with her family – the central focus of her life. She holds an honors degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Toronto.

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