he stunning mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato is preparing to make her Los Angeles Opera debut on Sunday, November 29, singing her signature role of Rosina in Rossini’s Barber of Seville. Her first L.A. performances come on the heels of her success in Bartlett Sher’s winning production of the same opera at New York’s Metropolitan Opera and the release of her latest highly-praised EMI/Virgin Classics album, Colbran, the Muse.
For her L.A. debut, DiDonato will sing Rosina opposite star tenor Juan Diego Flórez, as she did at the Metropolitan Opera earlier this season and also in early 2007, when Sher’s brilliant production was among the first international transmissions in the phenomenally-successful series, The Met: Live in HD. DiDonato performs seven Barbieres in Los Angeles before heading to Baden-Baden, Germany, to celebrate New Year’s Eve in a gala concert of arias and songs by Handel, Mozart, and Rossini, as well as a few of her specialties from the American songbook. Then she kicks off 2010 with a recital tour that starts in Spain, stops off at London’s intimate Wigmore Hall for two consecutive performances of the same program, and concludes at the Monnaie in Brussels. The program, titled “Three Centuries of Italian Love Songs”, includes several by her “new favorite composer,” Francesco Santoliquido, whose music “is as close to Puccini as I’ll ever get,” as she recently told a New York audience.
Ten days before making her long-awaited debut with the Los Angles Opera on November 29, DiDonato returned to New York for a single evening, to accept a coveted Opera News Award at a gala in the newly-established Gotham Hall. Fellow mezzo Stephanie Blythe had the honor of introducing DiDonato and presenting the award.
Joyce DiDonato’s new EMI/Virgin Classics recording scores high praise
DiDonato’s newest recording is a compendium of astonishingly difficult arias that Rossini composed for his wife and muse, Isabella Colbran. It has been on the Billboard chart for a month and has earned the kinds of accolades received by her opera and recital performances. Time Out New York stated: “Here’s another bull’s-eye from the wondrous Joyce DiDonato. … The brilliant Kansas mezzo has fashioned an eloquent tribute to Rossini’s wife and frequent inspiration, Isabella Colbran. … If you’re new to the composer’s delights, DiDonato’s offering is the place to start: today’s gold standard.”
According to London’s Sunday Times: “DiDonato’s pearly tone and easy coloratura make this difficult music sound effortless: she sports a more than acceptable trill, brilliant high staccato notes, and long-breathed cantilena lines, prerequisites for a singer of the bel canto repertoire.”
Elsewhere, London’s Independent proclaimed:
“If Angela Gheorghiu is the pre-eminent Puccini interpreter of her era, then Joyce DiDonato surely lays confident claim to the equivalent position regarding Rossini, a status cemented in unorthodox manner this year when, despite breaking her leg on the opening night, she completed the five-night run in The Barber Of Seville at Covent Garden.
“Here she focuses on arias inspired and premiered by Isabella Colbran, Rossini’s wife and the supreme diva of her era. It’s a majestic display from first to last, DiDonato balancing precision and emotion whether she’s delivering the subtle ‘Giusto ciel, in tal periglio’ from Maometto II, or negotiating the high, almost laughing line of ‘Fra il padre, e fra l’amante’ from La donna del lago, which she’s scheduled to bring to London soon.”