Vail Daily News, CO
Dec 30 2004

Soprano subdues, awes Beaver Creek audience


Isabel Bayrakdarian and her vocal intrument delivered a theater full
of resonating soprano Tuesday evening at the Vilar Center.
Special to the Daily
http://www.vaildaily.com/article/20041229/AE/112290012

Shauna Farnell

BEAVER CREEK - The immediate surprise emanated from the entire
audience the minute Isabel Bayrakdarian took the stage.

Wow. She's thin. She's beautiful. She's not really what I expected
... for an opera singer.

Don't ask me why some of us have this image emblazoned in our mental
trivia that, when we think "soprano," we think 300-pound, 60-year-old
woman with false eyelashes. Or, maybe it's just me.

Surely that comment will elicit a slew of affronted feedback from
half the local and online opera community. I hope not.

Before Bayrakdarian's performance Tuesday evening at the Vilar Center
in Beaver Creek, I already knew that she didn't fit this prototype.

And maybe the surprise I sensed from the audience isn't accurately
rendered by my explanation. Maybe everyone was gasping and twittering
because they too already knew that Bayrakdarian was young and
beautiful, they just hadn't expected her to be this beautiful. I can
only speculate.

The first thing I noticed when I interviewed Bayrakdarian before
Tuesday's performance was that her speaking voice alone was one of
the loveliest I'd ever heard. Not that I expected one of the world's
most embraced sopranos to speak in a growl.

The second thing I noticed was that this global icon, born in Lebanon
and having relocated to Canada less than 15 years ago at the age of
15, had no arrogance or ego about her whatsoever. Somehow, she seemed
as excited to talk to me as I was to talk to her. She was articulate,
humble, witty and very friendly.

And when she told me how she'd gone through several minutes of sheer
panic when she thought her luggage containing her gowns was lost in
transit somewhere between the Toronto, Denver and Eagle County
airports, she said, "When you see the show, you'll understand why I
was so worried."

I did indeed understand.

She wore two different gowns during the course of Tuesday's recital,
the first, a Victorian-style burgundy with a lavender shawl that
could have placed her in the center of the Metropolitan Opera (where
she's already been highly acclaimed), in the middle of a royal
wedding or amidst somebody's revered collection of valuable porcelain
dolls. The second gown was a black satin V-neck with sheer sleeves
and a half-tattered skirt, perfect for the "Cabaret" numbers which
marked the last segment of her highly diverse, multi-lingual
performance.

The first numbers she sang were by Giacchino Rossini, Italian songs
about a regatta race. She delivered them with such energy - her eyes
going wide and brow furrowing at the dramatic intervals whose
meanings only the Italian speakers of the audience were able to
comprehend. The second segment moved on to Spanish with a series of
numbers by Manuel de Falla.

The section of Armenian hymns, which Bayrakdarian said were
responsible for landing her the part on the "Lord of the Rings: The
Two Towers" soundtrack, were ethereal and resonating. She held each
octave for several seconds without suffering a single heave of her
chest.

The second half of the performance featured a mix of French and
German numbers, the last three of which hit octaves of such quaking
power, they sent a ripple through the audience of uncomfortably
retained applause. The clapping etiquette proved uncertain throughout
the performance. When Bayrakdarian put a hand up to silence it early
on in the recital, the unrequited urge to applaud vigorously after
every piece, if not after every vocal burst in each number, lasted
until the final piece following the encore, where Bayrakdarian donned
castanets and her partner, pianist Serouj Kradjian, who had melted
his fingers into the ivory impeccably on each preceding piece,
stepped up the timing a few notches and both looked pleasantly
drained as they held hands to take their final bow amidst a standing
ovation.

The audience, which numbered less than 500 - possibly one of the most
intimate to which Bayrakdarian's ever performed since winning the
Metropolitan Opera seven years ago while simultaneously completing
her honors degree in biomedical engineering from the University of
Toronto - hopefully felt as honored as I did to have witnessed such a
rare display. Bayrakdarian said herself that the repertoire was
custom-made for the small audience and this piece of history, exactly
as it elapsed on Tuesday, will never be repeated.

Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or
[email protected]

Vail Colorado

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress