Isabel Bayrakdarian
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Isabel Bayrakdarian
Isabel Bayrakdarian
Born (1974-02-01) February 1, 1974 (age 45)
Zahlé, Lebanon
ResidenceSanta Barbara, California, United States
OccupationOpera singer
Years active2000-present

Isabel Bayrakdarian (Armenian: ; born February 1, 1974) is an Armenian-Canadian operatic soprano who now resides and works in the United States.

Early life

Born in Zahlé, Lebanon, into an Armenian family, she moved to Canada as a teenager. Bayrakdarian graduated in 1997 from the University of Toronto with an honours Bachelor of Applied Science in Biomedical Engineering.[1]


Bayrakdarian is noted as much for her stage presence as for her musicality,[2] and she has followed a unique career path. Since winning first prize at the 2000 Operalia International Opera Competition[3] founded by Plácido Domingo, she has launched an international opera career, appearing at the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House, La Scala, Paris Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Salzburg Festival, Dresden Semperoper, Bavarian State Opera, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and the Canadian Opera Company among others.

Her roles have included Euridice in Orfeo ed Euridice, Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare, Romilda in Serse,[4] Emilia in Flavio, Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro,[5] Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Pamina in The Magic Flute, Rosina in The Barber of Seville, Marzelline in Fidelio, Adina in L'elisir d'amore, Norina in Don Pasquale, Leila in Bizet's The Pearl Fishers, Teresa in Benvenuto Cellini, Mélisande in Pelléas et Mélisande, the Vixen in The Cunning Little Vixen, Blanche in Dialogues of the Carmelites, and Catherine in William Bolcom's A View from the Bridge.[6]

Her concert schedule includes appearances with the Chicago, Montreal, Toronto, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco symphony orchestras, Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra, singing under the baton of such conductors as Seiji Ozawa, James Conlon, David Zinman, Michael Tilson Thomas, Christoph von Dohnányi, Christoph Eschenbach, Colin Davis, Andrew Davis, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Mariss Jansons, Leonard Slatkin, James Levine, Peter Oundjian and Richard Bradshaw.

Bayrakdarian is the subject of a film entitled A Long Journey Home[7] that documents her first trip to Armenia. A major North American tour by Bayrakdarian in October 2008 featured the music of Komitas Vardapet with concerts in Toronto,[8] San Francisco, Orange County, Vancouver, Toronto, Boston and New York's Carnegie Hall. She was accompanied by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra conducted by Anne Manson. This Remembrance Tour was dedicated to victims of all genocides and was sponsored by the International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (a division of Zoryan Institute).[9]

She now serves as Assistant Professor of Voice at the University of California, Santa Barbara.[1]


In addition to her first prize at the Operalia Competition and four consecutive Juno Awards, Bayrakdarian has been awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, the 2005 Virginia Parker Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts,[10] the Leonie Rysanek Award from the George London Foundation, the Mesrob Mashdots Medal on behalf of the Holy See of Cilicia on August 15, 2004,[11] a Metropolitan Opera National Council Award in 1997, and the Republic of Armenia "Komitas Medal", bestowed upon by the Minister of Diaspora, Dr. Hranush Hakobian.[12] Most recently, she was awarded the Movses Khorenatsi medal--the Republic of Armenia's highest cultural award--from the President of Armenia in celebration of Armenia's Independence, on September 21, 2017.[13]


Her first recording, titled Joyous Light was released in March 2002 and rose to No. 1 in the Canadian classical charts. Soon afterwards, her vocals were featured in Atom Egoyan's film Ararat, and in the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in the track "Evenstar".

Since then she has won four consecutive Juno Awards for "Classical Album of the Year - Vocal or Choral Performance" for the following recordings: Azulão (Bluebird), an album featuring Spanish and Latin American songs (2004);[14]Cleopatra, featuring arias sung by the character Cleopatra from operas by Handel, Carl Heinrich Graun, Johann Adolph Hasse and Johann Mattheson (2004); Pauline Viardot: Lieder Chansons Canzoni Mazurkas, (2006); and Mozart: Arie e Duetti with fellow Canadians Russell Braun and Michael Schade (2007). In late 2007, Tango Notturno, a collection of tango songs, was released on CBC Records. Her album Isabel Bayrakdarian: Gomidas Songs, featuring songs by the 19th century Armenian composer Komitas Vardapet, was released on September 23, 2008, on the Nonesuch label and was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Classical Vocal Performance category.

Her dance music single "Angelicus" with the Vancouver electronica group Delerium made it to the top of Billboard Dance music charts in March 2007 and was nominated for a Grammy Award.[15]

Popular and crossover





  1. ^ a b "Isabel Bayrakdarian". University of California, Santa Barbara, Department of Music. Retrieved .
  2. ^ Eatock, Colin (May 6, 2008). "Has child, will travel - a lot". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 2017.
  3. ^ "Operalia winners". Retrieved 2017.
  4. ^ "DVD Review: Serse". ClassicsToday. Retrieved .
  5. ^ Knelman, Martin (2007-10-09). "We're hoping Isabel Bayrakdarian will come home". Toronto Star. Retrieved .
  6. ^ A View from the Bridge, details,
  7. ^ "Telefilm Documentaries". Archived from the original on 2006-11-28. Retrieved .
  8. ^ "Roy Thomson Hall Events". Archived from the original on 2013-02-01. Retrieved .
  9. ^ "" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-25. Retrieved .
  10. ^ "News Releases 2005". Canada Council for the Arts. Archived from the original on 2008-05-25. Retrieved .
  11. ^ The Holy Sea of Cilicia Bestows the "Sourp Mesrob Mashdots" Medal to Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian Archived 2012-04-25 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved October 07, 2011.
  12. ^ (2017-06-13). "Minister of Diaspora Decorates Isabel Bayrakdarian with "Komitas Medal"". Aypoupen all in one Armenian website. Retrieved .
  13. ^ LLC, Helix Consulting. " - ? - ? [? ?]". Retrieved .
  14. ^ "CARAS Scores A Hit With 2004 Juno Awards". Soul Shine. 2004-04-05
  15. ^ Robbins, Li (2007-12-10). "Isabel Bayrakdarian's big week". CBC. Retrieved .
  16. ^ Tango Notturno (2007, CBC Records) Full texts and translations in booklet
  17. ^ "Gomidas Songs". Retrieved .

External links

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