March 08, 2013


Elegant, unaffected and enchanting

Opera News

It is a remarkable package that DiDonato offers: a mezzo cast in milk chocolate, so smooth and agile that it can reach up to a diamond-bright soprano as well as sink to a rich, chesty alto. And then there is the instinctive charisma: she is always engaging and always intelligently shaping the verse and text

The Times
Wherever she sings, Joyce DiDonato earns rhapsodic reviews. Called “the flame-toned American mezzo” by Britain’s Daily Telegraph, she is among the world’s most enchanting performers and the winner of many honors including the Metropolitan Opera’s Beverly Sills Award. Opera News magazine states: “The buoyant progress of DiDonato’s career has been one of the happiest opera events of the past decade,” while critics have called her technique “fearless” and praised performances ranging from “playful eroticism to imploding self-delusion to near-catatonic depression.”

DiDonato begins the season in her Edinburgh Festival debut and a concert at the BBC Proms with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Sir Roger Norrington, singing Haydn’s daunting Scena di Berenice. She continues her time in Great Britain singing the role of Marguérite in Berlioz’s Damnation de Faust for the first time with the London Symphony Orchestra under Valery Gergiev. Before returning to the Metropolitan Opera in Il barbiere di Siviglia in October, she releases a selection of Rossini arias associated with the composer’s muse, the great Isabella Colbran. DiDonato makes her company debut with the Los Angeles Opera in Barbiere in November, and rings in 2010 with a televised New Year’s Eve gala in Baden-Baden, Germany. The mezzo-soprano Opera News calls “elegant, unaffected, and enchanting” launches 2010 in Spain with a recital tour of Italian love songs, also to be performed in Brussels and twice in London’s Wigmore Hall, where she is a particular favorite. She returns to Lyric Opera of Chicago as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, before making another role debut as Rossini’s Elena in La donna del lago, first in Geneva and then, with Juan Diego Floréz, at the Opéra National de Paris. The pair will also appear at Milan’s La Scala in a production of Il barbiere di Siviglia.

Furore, the first of DiDonato’s solo recordings on EMI Classics, surveys a variety of emotional Handel arias with Les Talens Lyriques and Christophe Rousset. DG/Archiv Produktion released Handel’s Alcina with DiDonato in the title role during the same period that she opened Wigmore Hall’s 2008-09 season and gave her role debut as Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. At the end of the season she returned to Covent Garden for Il barbiere di Siviglia, breaking her leg during the first performance. She completed the series of performances in a wheelchair, before making her Salzburg Festival debut several weeks later. “The mezzo-soprano has become very well known in recent years. And quite deservedly, as the Salzburg audience quickly heard,” wrote Salzburger Nachrichten. DiDonato sang her first Béatrice in Berlioz’s rollicking Béatrice et Bénédict with Houston Grand Opera, reprising it in Paris with Sir Colin Davis before performing in Mozart’s Idomeneo at the Paris Opéra. She sang the world premiere of Peter Lieberson’s song cycle, The World in Flower, with the New York Philharmonic and its new music director, Alan Gilbert; gave her first main-stage Carnegie Hall concert, with the MET Orchestra under James Levine; and bowed for the first time at the Vienna State Opera as Rosina in Rossini’s Barbiere.

Recently Joyce DiDonato performed three new roles in each of two consecutive seasons, garnering raves for all of them. Critical encomium ranged from “What to praise first?” for her Roméo in Bellini’s Capuleti e i Montecchi at the Paris Bastille, to: “On her starriest form, a performance full of pathos and dazzling vocalism,” for Massenet’s Cendrillon in Santa Fe; “Displaying all the headstrong charm and mutability of this 17-year-old aristocrat,” for the Rosenkavalier’s Octavian in San Francisco; and finally, in Geneva: “DiDonato’s excellent Ariodante is not so surprising – we now expect no less of her.” Further new roles were Strauss’s Composer, in a Madrid Ariadne auf Naxos, and, in Milan, the title role in Handel’s Alcina, which she recorded with Alan Curtis and his Complesso Barocco.

DiDonato has soared to international prominence in operas by Rossini, Handel, and Mozart, as well as in high-profile world premieres. Her growing discography has earned accolades far and wide. Her Wigmore Hall recital disc was a Gramophone “Editor’s Choice,” while The Deepest Desire, her first solo disc, was awarded France’s “Diapason d’Or de l’année,” an extraordinary honor for a recording of American songs. Her CD of Spanish songs, ¡Pasión!, was a London Sunday Times “Classical CD of the week,” praised for its “authentic-sounding Iberian fire,” and dubbed the disc “that admirers of the young American mezzo have been waiting for.”

Her signature parts are in Rossini’s La cenerentola and Il barbiere di Siviglia – her Rosina in Barbiere at the Metropolitan Opera won new audiences in New York and on cinema screens all over the world during her performance in The Met: Live in HD, and she was called “the best Rosina around” by London’s Sunday Times for the portrayal.

After beginning her career in the U.S., Joyce DiDonato soon developed a growing and enthusiastic worldwide following in opera, concert, and recital. She has appeared on the world’s major opera stages, in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Chicago, Geneva, London, Milan, Munich, New York, Paris, San Francisco, and Tokyo, adding Vienna last season; and she has given recitals and concerts at Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, and Carnegie Hall, with the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Orchestre National de Paris, St. Luke’s Chamber Orchestra, and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. DiDonato has had important triumphs at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro and in performances and recordings with Alan Curtis’s ensemble, Il Complesso Barocco, and Les Arts Florissants under William Christie.

Born and educated in Kansas, the dynamic and engaging mezzo-soprano was a member of the young artist programs of the San Francisco, Houston Grand, and Santa Fe Opera companies after graduate studies at Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts.

During the 2005-06 season, DiDonato gave her Metropolitan Opera debut as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, sang her role debut as Sesto in Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito at the Geneva Opera, and returned to Covent Garden as Rosina in a new production of Il barbiere di Siviglia – receiving the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Singer of the Year award. She reprised her tour-de-force as Dejanira in Handel’s Hercules in New York and London, earning a prestigious Laurence Olivier Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Opera. Britain’s Guardian stated “Joyce DiDonato gives the performance of a lifetime as Dejanira, hurling out coloratura with the fury of a psychopath before descending into insanity.” Finally, she capped off the season with a triumphant role debut in the title part of Massenet’s Cendrillon at Santa Fe Opera.

Of her newest complete opera recording, Handel’s Alcina, Gramophone commented: “DiDonato is superb: her Alcina is a complex, feminine creature, vain and vindictive – listen to her spine-tingling performance of ‘Ombre pallide’ ... This could well be the Alcina we’ve been waiting for.” Her extensive discography includes a disc of Handel duets with soprano Patrizia Ciofi; complete recordings of Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Handel’s Radamisto and Floridante, and Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini; and DVDs of Handel’s Hercules and Rossini’s Barbiere di Siviglia. She can also be heard in a survey of Antonio Vivaldi’s sacred music, as well as on four solo CDs – The Deepest Desire, ¡Pasión!, her debut recital from London’s Wigmore Hall, and Furore. At Houston Grand Opera she premiered and recorded the roles of Meg in Mark Adamo’s highly acclaimed Little Women, and of Katerina Maslova in Tod Machover’s epic Resurrection, both of which were recorded and are currently available.

Honors bestowed upon DiDonato – in addition to the Met’s Beverly Sills Award and the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Singer of the Year – include the Richard Tucker Award, given to a single American singer annually; second place in Plácido Domingo’s Operalia; and prizes from the George London Foundation, the ARIA Award Foundation, and the Sullivan Musical Foundation.