5 years ago

Volume 13 - Issue 8 - May 2008

Includes the 2008 Canary Pages

went on that trip to

went on that trip to Armenia with you. I understand she is singing onyour recording of Armenian liturgical music, Joyous Light.There's one track where she's singing with me, Miayn soorp, You arethe Only Holy One. This was the genius idea of Neil Crory, whoproduced this for the CBC. We were doing an a cappella track and hesaid, "You have sung Armenian church music a lot with your morn,haven't you? Do you want to do a duet together?" It's great, becausethere's now a part of her that will always be with me, and her voicewill be with me forever on record.In the film you said that you needed to come back to Armenia a lot.Have you?Yes. That was my first visit. Now I've been many times - I've donea recording project, and a semi-staged production of Barber of Seville,of all things, and a concert. Soon I'm going again for anotherconcert, and I'll be there this fall, also. Then we're coming backhere and going on tour with the Chamber Orchestra of the ArmenianPhilharmonic. It was logical to get the finest instrument players inArmenia to accompany us on this tour of Armenian songs that aregoing to be performed for the first time for non-Armenian audiences.For Armenian songs, you need to have authentic accompaniment.Speaking of authentic, here in Toronto a Jew years ago you workedwith Tafelmusik, who of course were playing period instruments,and made that terrific recording of the program Cleopatra. I see thatyou've recently done the same program with the American periodinstrument orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque. ls this something youwant to pursue?Yes- that repertoire is so varied . You think about Handel's Cleopatra,but the Mattheson Cleopatra has such an effect that when Cleopatradies , you can hear the audience gasp. Yet that work is unheard.Handel was extremely jealous of Mattheson. He was so advanced, soahead of his time.Do you like singing with period instruments?I love it! It's so much easier (she laughs) to sing half a tone lower.So you don't have to force your voice?No, that doesn 't matter-you always have to. But half a pitch givesthe voice that extra comfort. Half a tone makes a big difference . Youcan colour more. And you can do crazy ornamentations, because youcan go higher. With period accompaniment you sound warmer. WhenI did Handel's Cleopatra here at the COC with modern instruments, Ifelt that she was a very calculating and powerful woman. Doing it inbaroque pitch, she becomes a femme fatale- a warm multi-facetedwoman.Do you want to do more Handel?I would love more Handel. I am very fortunate in that I am notthought of just in one Fach, so there are many decisions about repertoireI make based on how interesting the role is as a character, notjust vocally. For example when I did Blanche in Poulenc's Dialoguesof the Carmelites, it changed my life- it really did. It was abeautiful, transforming experience for me .Are there roles you would like to do that you haven't yet, perhapsmore 19th-century French opera?I would love more French- give me more French! The French repertoireis great. The roles that come to mind are Juliette and Manon.You've said that growing up singing Armenian music coloured howyou expressed yourself in classical music.It still does. Let me confess something to you. Whenever I singsomething that has been schooled according to the rules of correctstyle, I feel I have no magic in my voice. Basically I sound like anyother very good singer. But as soon as I give it that something- Idon't even know what it is, but if I knew, then the magic would belost- magic happens. What comes out is unique to me, regardless ofwhether it's in Armenian or in any other language. People aretouched.And it's that uniqueness, isn 't it, that ultimately separates voicesthat you can distinguish from voices that all sound the same? What iseffective for me is to take the rules inside so that when the timecomes for performing, I am not afraid to be free . From the beginning,you have to respectwhat the composerwrote, and the stylisticissues- this isnon-Armenian repertoireI'm talking about.But once you lose thefear which comes fromwanting to be safefrom criticism, youcan be free. You areopening yourself up topeople not liking it. Butactually, you gainmore people by beingfree.It certainly makes for amore exciting performance.You have to take risks.They can be calculatedrisks, but you have totake them.Did your experiences in engineering give you any support for beingable to take these risks?Going back, I would do it all over again. I might choose an easierbranch of engineering than biomedical. Just thinking about it sometimes!When I am really stressed, I still get nightmares that I haven'tstudied for a very important exam, so I'm not going to graduate. Itwas very, very difficult at times to combine the singing and engineering.In the beginning, young singers are so vulnerable, especiallysopranos, because we have so much competition to be noticed.When you're under that pressure, you want to please, so you forgetwho you are. You accept roles that you shouldn't, because theyprovide a great opportunizy. In the formative years opportunity is thekey word to being noticed and to being given more opportunities.Engineering gave me a great psychological backbone. I knew thatI was actually smart, and it didn 't have to do with somebody likingme or not. With my knowledge and education, I had another option,and a very good option in case my opera career didn't work out.That gave me huge confidence, right from the beginning, to say noto many things.I was the odd one out from the beginning. It was as if they wereasking, 'How can you come into this business from engineering?Why haven't we heard of you? ' That makes you say, ' Yes , I am theodd one out and I will continue to be the odd one out.' That helpsyou maintain your identity , so you don 't become homogeneous likeother singers .Performers are so exposed on stage - where did you get the courageto go out and portray these characters?My private life - I keep it very private. That's what helps me be likethat on stage . Not all singers do that, for whatever reasons . Theycombine their personal life with their professional life. To each hisown - I fully respect it. But the way I maintain an honesty on stageis to keep my core private life private.When my husband and I got married, we realized that more singershave stable families and children than other musicians. Most ofmy colleagues have families and the family seems to be very importantto them even though we travel a lot. As actors, the more experiencewe have with real life the more real we are on stage, and themore we can relate to the audience.Do you think opera directors have too much power over a production?It is their show, and they have a concept. You have to have opencommunication with the director. Very rarely have a director and Ialways agreed on everything. So I find ways to make the role myown. Sometimes you do something you don't like or you don't agreewith. But nobody is holding a gun to your head for you to do it. As10 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM M AY 1 - ] UNE 7 2008

a singer, if you are really uncomfortable, you can say no. Probably itwill mean never working with that director again, or not going to thatopera house again. It will mean a loss of income. So you match thosethings, if you 're really really uncomfortable. It's not do it or you die .You have had such a fruitful relationship with the Canadian BroadcastingCorporation-what do you think about what's going onthere?Why did it have to change? This new programming is very, verydisappointing.The uniqueness of the CBC was the fact that it educated listeners.Classical music is not supposed to veg you out-it is supposedto excite your mind. Otherwise, you are literally burying classicalmusic. A radio station that just spins discs loses its purpose. Youcan do that at home on your iPod.What makes the CBC so special is the fact that you have liveclassical music concerts. Somebody in Toronto can hear a live concerthappening in Vancouver, almost as if you are there.What about all your concerts and recordings at the Glenn GouldStudio?All over the world, they marvel at my CDs from the CBC and askwho has come up with these wonderful ideas- the cello concert, theCleopatra program, the tangos. That was CBC producer Neil Crory.It pains me, because of the opportunities I had there! Were I just tenyears later, I wouldn't even have those recordings. It's very unfortunatethat other singers won't be having those opportunities now.Isabel Bayrakdarian is singing in Pelleas and Melisande with theCanadian Opera Company at the Four Seasons Centre on May 6,9, 14, 17, 20, and 22 at 7:30 pm, on May 24 at 4:30 pm and onMay 11 at 2:00 pm. She will also be performing with Serouj Kradjian,piano, and the Chamber Orchestra of the Armenian Philharmonicon Friday, October 17 at 8:00 pm in Roy Thomson Hall.A complete list of Bayrakdarian 's recordings can be found on herwebsite at: www. bayrakdarian. comlrecordings/·~~IUri~o~:~~~ "AT THE BERKELEY STREET THEATREDOWNSTAIRS 26 BERKELEY STREET, TORONTOBOX OFFICE iBTI ® or ticBfe CanadaCouncil ConseildesArts~ fortheArts duCanadaQMaking OverturesCall the St. Lawrence Centre Box Officeat 416-366-7723 or 1-800-708-6754or book on-line at www.stlc.comVisit us at www.hssb.caSunday, May 25, 2008, 3 p.m., Jane Mallett TheatreAlain Trudel, Guest Conductor; James Campbell, Clarinet SoloistPlus three finalists in our call for new compositionsin the form of an overtureSponsored bySICFOur season concludes with an exciting afternoon of concert beginnings, all under the energetic andinspired baton of Alain Trudel. The renowned Canadian clarinet soloist James Campbell will performGeorgian Bay Reflections, Painting of Doris McCarthy by Howard Cable. Cash prizes will be awarded by adistinguished panel of judges to the three finalists in our call for compositions in the form of an overture.The Hannaford Street Silver Band is grateful for the assistance received from its corporate and its many individual donors, and from the following:l•I =:· :~;;-.;:' Canada .•• c--;:·::;-· ;.,;::;;·.;.::.,..-;I ''"''" . ,1 ' 5r.d,.,·, A'°'°"".'"'°""" 0 Y_A_MAHA ,,,;:;;;-,... NSK NTN SOCA1'J r.o_o1J~'l'E_A". RENIJLn 5KP' SCHAEFFLER JUPITTR ~ ~lcic lfr,u•••• ~ oEXHYno~ "7:::::;-.:, Muu(.tllllllumtnti '"''' "'"""MAY 1 - JUNE 7 2008 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM 11

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