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A Long Journey Home.

A Long Journey Home

Isabel Bayrakdarian, soprano

Stormy Nights/Greenspace DVD Lebanese-born and Canadian in upbringing, Isabel Bayrakdarian waited until the spring of 2004 before making geographic contact with the land of her ancestors. An invitation to sing with the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra in Yerevan became the means for the glamorous soprano to explore her Armenian roots, and for writer-director Eileen Thalenberg to bear witness to the occasion in a 56-minute documentary film titled A Long Journey Home.

Already telecast on CBC's Opening Night, the documentary now appears as a DVD, including such extra features as a discussion and piano performance (on the composer's own piano) of the music of Armenia's venerated ethnographer-composer, Vardapet Komitas (1869-1935), presided over by Bayrakdarian's fiance (now husband), Serouj Kradjian, and additional performances of her own of Armenian hymns, as well as Rosina's "Una voce poco fa" from Il barbiere di Siviglia.


Raised as she was in the Armenian church, Bayrakdarian sounds born to sing its centuries-old music, with its sinuous, personally inflected melodies. The clarity and tonal purity she brings to it are carried over to performances of the "Song of the Moon" from Dvorak's Rusalka with the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra and of bittersweet Komitas-arranged folk songs--reminiscent at times of Canteloube's "Songs of the Auvergne"--accompanied by the Minassian Duduk Quartet.

What further recommends the DVD is some striking photography of the singer's adventures in a land simultaneously poor in economic terms and rich in culture. Ancient churches, bustling markets, barren countryside and female faces similar to Bayrakdarian's own greet the camera with startling freshness. Ultimately and rewardingly, the singer's journey of discovery becomes our own.
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Author:Littler, William
Publication:Opera Canada
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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