Isabel Bayrakdarian is an operatic soprano who was born on February 1, 1974 in Zahle, Lebanon. At a young age, she had to move to Toronto, Canada with her family, after the Lebanese Civil war broke out.
There she studied biomedical engineering and attended the musical Academy winning the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 1998, after freshly graduating from the University of Toronto in 1997 with honors.
She is married to Grammy-nominated and Juno-winning Armenian-Canadian pianist and composer Serouj Kradjian and together they have a daughter Lea and a son Ari. Together they reside in the United States where she is an Assistant Professor of Voice at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Isabel Bayrakdarian collaborated with The Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra; Constantine Orbelian; Jory Vinikour; Delos Production, portraying “The Other Cleopatra: Queen of Armenia,” which came out on March 20, 2020.
Isabel Bayrakdarian Career Path
- In 1999, Isabel was engaged in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s world premiere production of William Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge.
- In 2000, she won First Prize in Plácido Domingo’s prestigious Operalia competition.
- In 2002, Isabel made her debut with San Francisco Opera, as Valencienne in The Merry Widow, and also made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera in the New York premiere of Bolcom’s opera.
- A season later, she won plaudits as Teresa in the Met premiere of Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini.
- She was in demand for Mozart productions; Zerlina in Don Giovanni (New York, Houston, Salzburg), Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro (Los Angeles, London), and Pamina in The Magic Flute (New York, Toronto).
- Her roles at her home-base theater, Toronto’s Canadian Opera Company, range from Gluck’s Euridice to Debussy’s Mélisande to Poulenc’s Blanche in Dialogues des Carmélites.
Internationally, she sang in:
- Monteverdi’s Poppea in Barcelona,
- Handel’s Serse in Dresden,
- Vixen in New York and Florence,
- the Saito Kinen Festival in Matsumoto, Japan.
As a concertize, she has appeared with the premier orchestras of:
- New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Minnesota,
- Vienna, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal
She was under the baton of such eminent conductors as:
- Seiji Ozawa,
- James Conlon,
- David Zinman,
- Michael Tilson Thomas,
- Alan Gilbert,
- Nicholas McGegan,
- Christoph von Dohnányi,
- Christoph Eschenbach,
- Colin Davis,
- Sir Andrew Davis,
- Nikolaus Harnoncourt,
- Mariss Jansons,
- Leonard Slatkin,
- James Levine,
- Anne Manson,
- Bramwell Tovey,
- Peter Oundjian and
- Richard Bradshaw.
Isabel Bayrakdarian Filmography
- Opera Night at Cologne (2005)
- Handel: Serse (2005)
- A Long Journey Home (2005)
- Mozart: Don Giovanni. Live from Salzburg (2006)
- Great Performances at the Met: The Magic Flute (2007)
- Opera Under the Stars. Live in Ottawa at LeBreton Flats Park with the Canadian Opera Company (2007)
- The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)
Her versatility is also reflected in being the featured vocalist on the Grammy-award winning soundtrack of the blockbuster film The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers, and on the soundtrack of Atom Egoyan’s Ararat.
She collaborated with the electronica band “Delerium,” which garnered a Grammy nomination.
She appeared in the BBC-produced short film HOLOCAUST – A Music Memorial Film from Auschwitz, which generated close to a million views on YouTube.
Her Gemini-nominated film Long Journey Home, documenting her first visit to her homeland Armenia. Additional forays include her tango album and project Tango Notturno, a recording of Armenian medieval sacred music, In Joyous Light, and her recording of Manuel de Falla’s Seven Spanish Songs.
Isabel Bayrakdarian Awards and Prizes
Ms. Bayrakdarian is the winner of four consecutive Juno Awards (Canada’s Grammy equivalent) for Best Classical Album (Vocal) for Azulão, a collection of Spanish, Brazilian, and Argentine songs, for Cleopatra, including Baroque arias with Tafelmusik, a collection of songs by the nineteenth-century singer/composer Pauline Viardot Garcia, and Mozart Arie e Duetti.
Her collaboration with husband Serouj Kradjian, pianist and arranger, on Nonesuch CD Gomidas Songs, which was nominated for a Grammy in 2009, promoted and popularized the work of Armenian composer Gomidas Vartabed.
Ms. Bayrakdarian is the recipient of many other awards, including the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee and the Diamond Jubilee Medals, the Arbor Award from the University of Toronto, the George London Foundation Award, and the Canada Council’s Virginia Parker Prize.
Minister of Diaspora, Dr. Hranush Hakobian, has decorated Canadian Armenian Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian with the Republic Of Armenia “Komitas Medal” on June 12, 2017.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in June 2017, and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.