The choice of repertoire is more or less predictable. There are no lesser known arias, and Gott sei Dank they have been grouped by opera but, within the operas, not in the order of appearance. The ordering of the operas seems haphazard, too. "What an ungrateful nit-picker!" I can hear readers mumble. "Of course they have decided the order to achieve as much variety as possible". But I am not so sure. Why, in that case, start the recital, after the Zauberflöte overture with two arias in a row sung by Russell Braun?
In 2002, the beautiful Canadian-Armenian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian scored a major success when she appeared as Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, in Handel’s opera Giulio Cesare for the Canadian Opera Company. As one critic observed at that time, "Cleopatra is one of Handel’s most superb, and psychologically intricate, creations. The luminous Bayrakdarian has made a wonderful beginning in a role she will surely take to the great stages of the world—at first childishly seductive, then calculating, and ultimately revealing a profound nobility and vulnerability." For her third CD for CBC Records, Ms. Bayrakdarian has chosen arias from four works focusing on the Egyptian femme-fatale..
Although she's making a major name for herself on the world's opera stages, Armenian/Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian has chosen her solo-recital repertoire for her two CBC recordings from decidedly non-opera material. The first, Joyous Light (type Q4974 in Search Reviews), featured contemporary arrangements of traditional Armenian liturgical music; now this one focuses on songs from Spain, Brazil, and Argentina. All of the things I said in the earlier review regarding Bayrakdarian's vocal quality, musicianship, and star-bound credentials hold true here: she is a world-class singer, a performer with prodigious communicative instincts and superlative technical ability. In these wonderfully colorful and evocative songs, many of which are rarely heard on concert stages or on recordings, she displays a commanding presence, using her considerable dramatic skills to enliven each song with appropriately varied personalities and moods, from playful to passionate to wistful to sultry to melancholy–whatever is required to convey sense and spirit of music and text.
… –David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
Soprano sorceress Isabel Bayrakdarian, acclaimed internationally for her glittering accomplishments on both stage and screen, presents – in this hypnotically alluring album of Armenian sacred music – a more spiritual aspect of her multifaceted musical persona…