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Good planning!

Note to self: touring in Spain in the middle of January = brilliant idea!


(Ditto for that whole “December in Los Angeles” thing!)

Yes, I’ve officially kicked off my Tour D’Amore and so far so good. We began in Madrid, which is always such a lovely place to spend some time. The people are so warm and welcoming, the food unbelievably wonderful (“Mas jamon, por favor!”), and the richness of that Spanish culture I love so much abounds on every street corner.

The opening of a new recital is always nerve-wracking, as I’ve mentioned, but the reward of bringing all the months of hard work and preparation to fruition gives real reason to celebrate. In Madrid it was interesting, because it is quite a cultivated audience: they love their traditional lieder recital, and at first hint of bad decorum, they immediately hush the offending member and absolute concentration is duly and immediately restored. They know what they are listening for, and it’s up to the performer to deliver. I’m not entirely convinced that my choice of program was exactly to their liking, but truth be told, I can only ever really offer the things that I think I will do well, and this will never please everyone. But it’s always a privilege to sing on that stage, one replete with such history and such a devoted audience, and I was incredibly honored to be invited.

Stopping next at the Grand Canary Island to sing in Telde was another story entirely!


The venue was hardly that of the grand Teatro Zarzuela in elegant Madrid; instead, this was a 250-seat charming, but run-down church hiding in the most narrow of winding streets, musty of smell with one community toilet, and tickets were free! As I started my first set, people were still wandering in, photos were being snapped, and the eager audience was determined to clap after each song; to say it was mass confusion would be a bit of an exaggeration, but only by a bit.

But a funny thing about this relaxed, demonstrative, slightly unruly public: I LOVED them! The close proximity really turned this into a salon recital, with feedback immediate and genuine, no barriers, no artificiality, and genuine communication.

One thing I’ve realized about this recital (again, it’s nearly impossible to know how a recital will come across until you actually put it in front of the public for the first time), is that it is quite an intimate affair. There isn’t a lot of pomp and circumstance, very little “flash”. It is probably the furthest in mood from “Furore” that I could find, which was intentional on my part, as I hope that versatility will always be welcome in my endeavors. But there is a more internal and intimate character to this recital, at least from my point of view, and I found that having the luxury of singing that to 250 people in such close, charming quarters was a true gift.

They were unbelievably generous in their response and it is an evening I won’t soon forget.

Nor will I forget the next night:


Dudamel = magic. Pure. And. Simple.

I see in him an enthusiasm and a JOY for making music that is all too rare on the podium in these days. I see passion and detail and generosity. It was incredibly inspiring to watch his concert in the stunning Alfredo Kraus Auditorium with his Goteborg Symphony. Yes, the world premiere was raw and thrilling (truly!), the Rach 4 with Leif Ove Andsnes impressive, and the Sibelius rocked my world – but the MAGICAL moment came in their first encore. It wasn’t announced, and I wasn’t familiar with it, but it was a slow, lyrical, slowly unfolding rhapsody of lush melody first caressed by the strings, and then slowly taken over by the winds. As it inevitably crawled to it’s hushed finish, he whispered an invitation for the final cut off with his left hand, and then – held it suspended there. It must have been for a full 30 seconds. Maybe it was 5 minutes. It could have been an hour, but regardless, not a sound was uttered in the hall, and no one even thought to begin applauding. Instead, what I felt was an immense and powerful concentration of energy and silence – the silence carrying almost more weight than the music had just seconds before, and he held us captive. It was entrancing, hypnotic and magic. Prayer, for whatever that may mean to different people, prayer happened in that moment.

Ah, the power of music. And the power of silence. Simple bliss.

I’m currently in Barcelona, ready for the “intimate” Liceu!! Well, ok, it’s not so intimate, but I’ll do my best to shore up the masses to take this little internal journey with me! I’m so looking forward to being back on that beautiful stage and enjoying my all-too-short a stay here!

Hasta luego, Amigos!

PS – thank you to the lovely Suzanne for alerting me that on January 28 at 2:00 (London time) the BBC Radio 3 will be broadcasting the “Béatrice et Bénédict” I sang in from Paris last year with the DIVINE Sir Colin Davis conducting. Sure you can tune in to listen to me, but it’s definitely worth it to hear his conducting of the final duet of Act 1. C’EST PARADIS!!!!!

13 Comments

  1. Chris said…

    I hope when you are in Barcelona you can take a few hours or a day or two to visit the glorious Costa Brava to the north of the city. Some of the most spectacular seacoast in all Europe.

  2. Dr.B said…

    I'm going to have to stalk Dudamel.

  3. Leonid said…

    Just finished listening to your Madrid recital over the Internet. What a splendid, splendid evening of vocalism and artistry it must have been. I have a couple of questions though:

    1/. are you planning to record this unique program?

    2/. are you planning to bring it to New York? If yes, when? If not, why?:)

  4. Klassikfan said…

    Hi Joyce, this morning I had to leave Barcelona very early (unfortunately), but I am glad that I had the chance to attend your wonderful recital last night at the Liceu – and the presentation of the new "La Cenerentola" DVD afterwards. After the third song, already, the first "Brava!!" followed, and then enthusiasm was mounting up, especially – of course – after your two arias in Spanish. What a wonderful new programme, what a great performance, and let me add that David Zobel at the piano got a well-deserved round of appplause, too. – People in and around London – go to Wigmore Hall, it's a MUST!! – Best news for me last night: You will turn up in Munich (in 2 years)! See you then!
    Best wishes, Herbert

  5. David said…

    I'll bet from what you say about the GSO/Dudamel encore it was the Intermezzo from Stenhammar's The Song – always used to be a favourite of the orchestra with Jarvi, and I heard Dudamel do it with them (very differently) at the Proms. Anthem-like, solemn, moving to tears, yes?

    Wishing you well at the Wigmore – yet again I can't make either concert, darn it. But you'll be back soon…

  6. Irishrover said…

    Wow, this concert in Telde was kinda unique and very different from what you're used you!

    And it's true, having been there in Barcelona, you're right about this tour being more intimate. Even if the Liceu may not have been as intimate as what you may have experienced in Telde, I think something of this intimacy was there. The silence following the arias was particularly revealing: it was as if we were afraid of breaking the magic by applauding too quickly.

    I will certainly listen to Béatrice and Bénédict, the cast was truly great :)

    Take care,
    Marion

  7. Moments d'Òpera said…

    Brava! Nos ofreciste un GRAN recital el pasado domingo!

    http://momentsopera.blogspot.com/2010/01/la-cenerentola-texana.html

  8. Glòria said…

    I enjoyed your concert very much last Sunday at the Liceu, especially the second half and, of course, with the two encores, with an excellent David Zobel on piano.

    And later in the presentation of the DVD of Cenerentola too, because despite the name of your blog, you are nothing diva, in contrast, you are very friendly and warm with the public who comes to talk with you. Thanks so much for being like that.

    In July 2009, in London, I told you that I was expecting to see you in January 2010 at the Liceu, well, this is already done. Now, I’m waiting for seeing you at the Donna del Lago in June 2010 in Paris, although I realize it is very difficult to get tickets. I cross my fingers !!.

    Anyway, if I can not see you in Paris, I'll see you at the Liceu, sure!. We are waiting for you to come back soon!

    Did you take photos in Barcelona this time?.

  9. Alixkovich said…

    Oh…bad news…it looks like the "crazy winter weather" is coming back in Belgium…I hope you won't have problems on the…29th? for your travel…

    Anyway…good luck, and see you in…3 days! :-D

    Bye!
    Alix

  10. John said…

    Dear Joyce,

    Just a warmfelt thanks for a wonderful, wonderful concert on Tuesday evening. The choice of repertoire was inspirational, especially the Santoliquido; Richard and I were completely bowled over by them.

    Your very generous encores were the "icing on the cake" of an evening of sheer blissful music making.

    with best wishes,

    Ian

    ps The Barbican "Ariodante" is very firmly in our diaries!

  11. Irishrover said…

    I read a review of your last two concerts in London, and the Londonian public got to hear you singing Assisa appiè and Giusto Ciel with a harpist! How lucky they are, these are my two favorite tracks on your new CD, and with a harp… Must have been amzingly beautiful.

    Enjoy your time in Brussels if you're already there, and see you on Saturday :)

    Take care!
    Marion

  12. Immanuel Gilen said…

    Likewise, perhaps next time you'll think twice before coming to Brussels in January ;-) – though I for one was happy you brought us the solace of 'amore' in the gray depths of Belgian winter – coincidentally with a fresh layer of snow for your recital.

    Dudamel often does that Stenhammar piece as en encore with the GSO. I thought the silence following it was almost unbearably intense, perhaps a religious experience indeed.

    Good luck with the rest of your tour, and please don't forget to visit Belgium again! Cheers!

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As an artist, you will never arrive at a fixed destination. THIS is the glory and the reward of striving to master your craft and embarking on the path of curiosity and imagination, while being tireless in your pursuit of something greater than yourself.

~ Joyce DiDonato