Armenian News Network / Groong


Armenian News Network / Groong
October 14, 2002
Entertainment Wire

By Sahan Arzruni


Isabel Bayrakdarian, the Armenian Canadian soprano, projects a
commanding presence on stage.  In a rapidly growing career, she has
become a sought after performer, appearing in many opera productions,
concert engagements and recorded performances.  Next season, she will
make her Met debut in A View from the Bridge.

On October 13, Sunday afternoon, Ms. Bayrakdarian offered a concert,
`Light from the Cross,' at New York's Alice Tully Hall, presented by
the Prelacy of the Armenian Church.  In the first half of the program,
she performed Mozart's Exsultate, jubilate, a chestnut in the
repertoire of coloratura sopranos.

Ms. Bayrakdarian offered a well articulated performance, singing the
infamous, treacherous passages of the composition with control and
clarity.  Yet, her interpretation lacked the vocal luminosity
necessary to express the exultation and jubilation inherent in the
score.  Hers was a studied performance rather than a spontaneous

The second half of the program was devoted to a composition by
Christos Hatzis, a Greek Canadian composer, who was commissioned by
the Prelacy to write a work using the text of eight Armenian
liturgical chants associated with the holy week proceeding Easter.

Ms. Bayrakdaryan was much more at ease in this setting.  Perhaps her
familiarity with Armenian church music helped her create a vocal line
that was graceful, warm and communicative.  She handled some of the
melismatic passages with admirable élan, she adjusted her
intonation to accommodate the peculiarities of Armenian music and
paced herself to create an effective musical design.

Mr. Hatzis' composition was less than successful, however.  These
ancient liturgical chants can not be altered to such an extant that
they are no longer recognizable.  Here the text and the music are
united; they are inseparable; they present a single nature, just like
the Armenian church and its doctrine of monophsysism.  Mr. Hatzis had
borrowed occasional musical gestures from the chants and created new
melodies that were basically irrelevant.  Although a solid and
colorful orchestrator, the orchestral sound web Mr. Hatzis had devised
had little to do with the spirit or the content of the Armenian church

The Prometheus Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Mario
Bernardi, assisted Ms. Bayrakdarian and performed with enthusiasm and
gusto.  The afternoon began with Ekmalian's Lord's Prayer and
continued with Hovhaness' Tsaikerk, a winning composition for violin,
flute and chamber orchestra.

Sahan Arzruni is a concert pianist and an ethnomusicologist. He has
toured China and Vietnam, performing and giving master classes, and
has delivered a series of lectures on Arshak II at the request of the
San Francisco Opera Guild.
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