One of Canada’s pre-eminent opera and recital singers will take to the Yukon Arts Centre stage next Tuesday.
Lyric soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, accompanied on piano by her Armenian-Canadian composer husband, Serouj Kradjian, will present a varied program that includes a number of folksongs by the Armenian national composer, Gomidas Vartabed.
The recital is a collaboration between the arts centre and Whitehorse Concerts.
With several albums and four Juno awards to her credit, Bayrakdarian is one of this country’s busiest classical singers.
She is no stranger to the world’s major opera houses, and put her own stamp on such roles as Mélisande in Pélleas et Mélisande, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte and Euridice in Orfeo ed Euridice, with the Canadian Opera Company.
Just days before her Whitehorse appearance, she performed with Kradjian at the renowned Wigmore Hall in London, England.
Bayrakdarian, who also holds an honours degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Toronto, got her start as a singer in a church choir. Born in Lebanon of Armenian heritage, she moved to Canada as a teenager.
Her strong, soaring soprano voice and commanding stage presence first attracted international attention in 2000, when she captured first prize in the Operalia competition, founded by tenor Plácido Domingo.
She and Kradjian have toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. They have also given recitals in many Canadian cities, including Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.
They first prepared their program of Vertabed’s songs to perform with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra during its 2008-2009 season.
Bayrakdarian was a guest soloist with the Canadian band Delerium on its Grammy-nominated 2007 mix Angelicus.
Her voice has also been featured on film soundtracks, including the award-winning Canadian film, Ararat, and the international blockbuster, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, which won a Grammy for best soundtrack.
After Bayrakdarian’s performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall in March, 2008, the New York Sun called her “a solid, smart, and well-prepared singer.”
The Sun’s writer went on to comment, “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.”
CBC Television made Bayrakdarian the subject of a film called A Long Journey Home, which followed the singer on her first trip to Armenia.
On a subsequent trip, she and Kradjian recorded an album of Vartabed’s songs with the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra. That recording, on the Nonesuch label, also garnered a Grammy award nomination in 2009.
Those songs have a special meaning to Bayrakdarian, who has been quoted as saying, “In many ways, when I sing them they come from a part of me that is very different from when I sing any other repertoire.”
Bayrakdarian’s appearance in Whitehorse is in conjunction with a major tour of British Columbia. She will also perform later this fall with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
Curtain time for the November 8 recital at the Yukon Arts Centre is 8 p.m.