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Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian has travelled far and wide, as an international opera star and an Armenian who was born in Lebanon, immigrated to Canada, and is now settled in southern California. Her life is a journey that informs her new recording, La Zingarella: Through Romany Songland. "The music transcends geography," she says. "It taps into human nature and unites us all. It's about freedom of the spirit, about living life without knowing what tomorrow holds. It's about enjoying every single minute." Isabel embarked on an album of art songs that draw on gypsy melodies - Brahms' Zigeunerlieder, Dvorák's Cigánské Melodie, Bizet's Habanera - but her journey led to a wealth of recherché gems. The title track by French composer Maurice Yvain commingles with fellow-operetta composers Franz Lehár ('Lied und Csárdás' from Zigeunerliebe), Emmerich Kálmán ('Heia, heia, in den Bergen' from The Csárdás Princess) and Victor Herbert (Gypsy Love Song from The Fortune Teller). Two South American Gypsy Songs by American folk song collector Henry F.B. Gilbert set words by ethnomusicologist Laura Alexandrine Smith, whose authoritative book lends the album it's subtitle. The ever-adventurous Isabel commissioned new arrangements for the songs on this album, with violin, viola, cello, and piano lending a laser beam lucidity to the music that "has a lot of fire in it," she says with a glint in her eye.