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‘La Donna del Lago’ at The Met – “a complete vocal and dramatic achievement”

Returning to the role of Elena, the Highland maiden of the title, Joyce DiDonato is an absolute marvel. She came on strong from the very beginning, her voice in her entrance aria, “O mattutini albori,” unrolling like a bolt of silk. to hear her now is to hear a great voice in its prime: an easy, honeyed tone, ample volume, accurate pitch, a quick coloratura. Everything simply works for her, and on the foundation of that security she builds a sublime musical interpretation. 

DiDonato’s most memorable moment is “Tanti affetti” right before the final curtain–she builds stunning arches in the aria, the lines achingly crafted with breathtaking beauty. The following cabaletta, a bubbling effusion of joy, sparkles like a diamond. DiDonato’s portrayal at this point is a complete vocal and dramatic achievement, and truly must be experienced in person to be appreciated.”

Eric C. Simpson – New York Classical Review

“As Elena, the incandescent mezzo Joyce DiDonato commands the necessary vocal backbone to focus the drama on herself: steely in confrontational exchanges, she can sound meltingly tender when daydreaming about Malcolm and produce a more juicy, complex tone when the arrival of the hunter complicates her emotional landscape.

Ms. DiDonato’s mastery of the gymnastic elements of bel canto singing is absolute, and the seeming ease with which she binds them into the musical and emotional context of each phrase and scene is breathtaking.”

Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim – The New York Times

“. . . opera is first and foremost about the music — and that certainly applies to Gioachino Rossini as much as or more than many composers . . .

Take, for example, the current and first-ever La Donna del Lago returning at the Metropolitan Opera House after Paul Curran’s debut production last season — conducted by Michele Mariotti with all its melodic appeal now as it was then. Then, it was Joyce DiDonato to whom the title role was entrusted, and for good reason. The reasoning holds now, too.

As the Scottish maid wooed by three men and finally choosing the least likely one, she’s at her finest. (Sir Walter Scott wrote the jingoistic poem that Rossini, caught in an 1819 timing bind, turned to as source material.) DiDonato comes on strong with the coloratura and only gets more ravishing as she progresses to and through the final, outlandishly demanding scene.”

David Finkle – Huffington Post

“Nowadays, an increasing number of underappreciated pieces from opera’s heyday in the nineteenth century are being reintroduced into the standard repertory. On Friday night, one such opera—Rossini’s Scottish drama “La Donna del Lago”—returned in a run led by dynamite mezzo-soprano, Joyce DiDonato . . .

American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato is unquestionably the world’s leading interpreter of the composer’s music. In her role as Elena, DiDonato expertly handles every aspect of the part—lightning-speed vocal runs, delicately floated pianissimo, blazing high notes, and flawless trills—with a smoky timbre that is both entrancing and impassioned.”

Chris Browner – Columbia Spectator

“Joyce DiDonato sang “Tanti affetti” with the assurance, the grace, the ecstatic belief in each word she uttered that are her trademarks. She also acted the entire show as if her fears and hopes were genuine. She is a lovely, winning personality, born to hold a stage . . . Hers is a most attractive instrument, well-schooled and ready to serve her dramatic purpose; she expresses joy with infectious charm, foreboding with elegant shading. Her ornaments are refined and pretty . . . She is never under strain to get every note evenly produced. It is good to be in the presence of her singing and her charm—but without her, we’d never have heard this opera at the Met.”

Ivan Martinson – GBOpera

“La Donna del Lago Soars On The Cast’s Singing Voices . . . As Elena, Joyce DiDonato shows off her mezzo-soprano voice and carries the performance from the opening curtain to the final bow. She is what makes this opera worthwhile and a must see.”

Joe McDonald – NYSportsDay.com

“Joyce DiDonato was fabulous as always, bringing down the house after her glorious aria “Tanti affetti”, which ends the opera. Her voice soared over the orchestra while also blending with other soloists, especially in her Act I duet with Daniela Barcellona, “Vivere io non saprò/ potrò, mio ben, senza di te.”

Ms.OperaGeek.com

“Luckily, Rossini’s stunning bel canto fireworks were entrusted to authorities such as DiDonato, Lawrence Brownlee and maestro Michele Mariotti. As Elena, DiDonato was a pleasant, warm, joyous lass with an easy smile in cornflower blue skirts . . . Wandering heart arias were sung in gilded, polished tones with superlative, masterful coloratura and agility. Exemplary control and brilliant, luminous high notes marked her opening cavatina. The “Tanti affetti” finale was a technical masterpiece of floridity, glissandos and trills.”

Courtney Smith – Bachtrack.com

“DiDonato remains a paragon. When she sang “Tanti affetti,” a chorus member was beaming. I know the feeling. I sometimes quote Bum Phillips, the late NFL coach, who said of his star running back, Earl Campbell, “I don’t know if he’s in a class by himself, but I do know that when that class gets together, it sure don’t take long to call the roll.” Is Joyce DiDonato the world’s greatest singer? Is she in a class by herself? In any event, it doesn’t take long to call the roll.

Get out your hankies (or get ready to roll your eyes): Hearing DiDonato sing “Tanti affetti” has been one of the privileges of my life, musically. I’m glad I heard Milstein play Bach’s Partita in D minor. I’m glad I heard Horowitz play Schubert’s G-flat Impromptu. (He played it extraordinarily well that afternoon—other things, not so well.) I’m glad I heard Rostropovich play Prokofiev’s Symphony-Concerto.
And I’m glad I’ve heard DiDonato sing “Tanti affetti” (among many other arias and songs).”

Jay Nordlinger – The New Criterion

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There will always be more freedom to acquire and more truth to uncover.

~ Joyce DiDonato