Isabel Bayrakdarian

Idomeneo at Opéra national de Paris

Palais-garnier * Notes *
Wednesday's performance of Idomeneo at Palais Garnier had some beautiful singing. Tamar Iveri's Elettra could be strident and hysterical, without being ugly. Isabel Bayrakdarian (Ilia) does have quite a bit of vibrato at times, but her voice is pretty. Vesselina Kasarova certainly looked the role of Idamante, but her wobbly gasping was distracting. At least this was not the case in all of her arias. Charles Workman was wonderful as Idomeneo, his warm, sweet voice has a lovely resonance.

The orchestra did not sound particularly together and did not seem to mind the conductor, Philippe Hui. Given that he was filling in for Emmanuelle Haïm, who recently withdrew from these performances, it was a bit mean of the audience to boo him so vehemently. The horns were especially out of tune.

As for Luc Bondy's production, as far as I could tell, it seemed rather dull. It was a sort of minimalist naturalism as far as set. For example, the beach in Act II looked strewn with paper, orange peels, and random trash. This was not exactly indicative of a horrible sea monster that was wreaking havoc on the Cretans. The set was also loud, people thumped up and down the rake all evening long. The costuming was inexplicable, the time period was unclear and the styles were not becoming on the female cast. Ilia's dress was very unflattering, and I have never seen Bayrakdarian look so matronly.

* Tattling * 
The audience was silent, though we were in a box, so it was hard to gauge. The applause seemed a bit tepid.

The Minnesota Opera's 2009-2010 Season

September 26- October 4 2009: Les pêcheurs de perles
November 14-22 2009: Casanova's Homecoming
January 30- February 7 2010: Roberto Devereux
March 6-13 2010: La bohème
April 10-24 2010: Salome

Isabel Bayrakdarian sings Leïla in the Zandra Rhodes production of Les pêcheurs de perles.

2009-2010 Season | Official Site

Isabel Bayrakdarian at PBO

Bayrakdarian* Notes *
Philharmonia Baroque's first performance of The Queen of Egypt concert occurred last night in San Francisco. The evening started with the overture from Graun's Cleopatra e Cesare, and Isabel Bayrakdarian sang the aria "Tra le procelle assorto" from that work. The horns had a few sour notes, and Bayrakdarian warbled a bit, but not unpleasantly. She also had a slight gasp once on the word "dissipar." She continued sounding bird-like in "Morte, col fiero aspetto" from Hasse's Marc'Antonio e Cleopatra, and had another slight gasp. Her diction was not the clearest, but Baroque music tends to be difficult to understand in any case.

Janet See was the soloist for Quantz's Concerto No. 161 for Flute, G Major, QV 5:174, which was played at the end of the first half. See played beautifully, and everyone sounded very much together.

In the second half, the orchestra played the overture from Händel's Giulio Cesare and Bayrakdarian returned to sing "Piangerò, la sorte mia." I have heard this aria butchered more than once in the last few years, and Bayrakdarian sang it refreshingly well. The B section was sung with passion, yet was always tasteful.

Bayrakdarian was allowed the respite of Heinichen's Concerto in F Major, S 234 before the end. Again, there were a few brief moments of the slightest flatness in the horn, but for the most part the piece was played well. Nicolas McGegan took the tempi at a good speed.

The evening finished off with a lullaby from Act I of Matheson's Cleopatra, and "The Death of Cleopatra." A few of Bayrakdarian's breaths were audible, but her voice sounded warm and beautiful, even voluptuous. The very end was lovely, the music just melted into silence.

* Tattling *
There were a few rows with hardly any people in them, but Herbst was fairly full. The audience was well-behaved, the only sound I heard during the music was a cellular phone on vibrate from a person behind me, which went off during the first movement of the flute concerto. During intermission I did overhear someone explain that Beowulf is Scandinavian, and this made my poor coal-black linguist's heart hurt a little. I should really keep my ears to myself.

Isabel Bayrakdarian is as comely has her billboard indicated. She wore three different dresses, all beaded. The first gown was turquoise and brown chiffon, it something like a mermaid and peacock hybrid. The second gown was brown satin with asymmetrical gathering, this one was my favorite and was most becoming. The last gown was black and silver with gathering down the middle.

PBO's Cleopatra Billboard

BayrakdarianPhilharmonia Baroque has a billboard on Fifth Street at Harrison, visible from Interstate 80 West. The advertisement features soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian in costume as Cleopatra, as she is singing a number of arias in that role in March. Handel's Giulio Cesare, Graun's Cleopatra e Cesare, and Matheson's The Death of Cleopatra. The concert also includes Quantz's Concerto for Flute with Janet See as the soloist.