Singing won out for exceptionally gifted soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian

The Vancouver Sun (British Columbia)
March 18, 2004 Thursday Final Edition

Singing won out for exceptionally gifted soprano

by Lloyd Dykk

Isabel Bayrakdarian, one of the freshest voices to have come by in
long while, makes her second visit to Vancouver a little later than
planned. The Vancouver Recital Society originally booked her for Feb.
29 but Bayrakdarian, 29, became ill and the concert was rescheduled
for Friday at the Orpheum.

Speaking from her home base in Toronto, she regrets missing that
first date, because it happened to fall on Rossini’s birthday. She
loves Rossini and was going to make the program exclusive to him. Now
she’s making it a half-Rossini night. The program includes several of
his delightfully witty or sad late songs, which aren’t like his
operas at all.

Bayrakdarian is something exceptional in music. Academically
distinguished, she got a degree in biomedical engineering and was
fielding offers from bio-med companies, also won the Metropolitan
Opera auditions and, at age 14, a national championship in bicycle
racing in Lebanon.

Singing won out and it wasn’t a hard choice, she says. “When you’re
in sync with the flow, you don’t resist it. And I never looked at
sports as a profession. It was more for morale and building

Her musical career takes her throughout the world, “but I’ll always
be based in Toronto. If you counted the days that I actually spend in
one place, I wouldn’t be a resident of anywhere,” she says with a

Her ravishing lyric soprano is booked through 2008. Her Met debut
last year was an unusual one: William Bolcom’s View from the Bridge.
Recently at the Met she starred in Berlioz’s almost never-done epic,
Benvenuto Cellini. Next year, Mozart’s Don Giovanni. She just sang
Mozart’s Requiem three nights in a row in Minnesota. “It was heaven,
heaven, heaven. For me, it all comes down to Mozart. Susanna [in
Marriage of Figaro] is the core for me.”

Wherever she’s appearing, she tries to find an Armenian church choir
where she just slips in and sings. “I don’t do it for publicity and I
stay anonymous. I figure that’s the only way my prayers will be

Her pianist is Serouj Kradjian, soon to become her husband. The
concert’s at 8 p.m.