Blog

Wisdom

I find that one of the most difficult things to manage in this career is the feeling of isolation that can easily creep into your psyche as you’ve been on the road for a little bit too long (or, as a matter of fact, even on that very first night you unpack your things into yet another sterile, rented apartment that houses one opened package of old spaghetti, a half-empty/full box of dry cereal, and usually 1/4 bottle of olive oil that you don’t dare use, because you can’t be SURE that it’s safe.) I stumbled over this quite a bit when I was first starting out in this career, and it was quite confusing: I was doing what I loved to do, and yet I felt quite miserable being completely on my own, away from the familiar and the secure.

It was especially true in the beginning years of European travel, because I didn’t know very many people in the business over on this side of the pond, and the foreign cities were overwhelming, as I spoke little of their language, didn’t always comprehend the cultural differences, and didn’t know that we had to price our own produce at the market! (It’s the small things, you see!) It was one of the most important “skills” I had to learn: not just how to be on my own, but how to ideally thrive in a solitary, foreign, often lonely environment.

For me, one of the biggest culprits was CNN International. It is usually the only English channel on the TV, and so on it went, and I would be bombarded with catastrophe after catastrophe, convinced that the sky, truly, was falling beyond all hope and that we are a doomed, doomed species. The word “demoralizing” barely scratches the surface for what this flood of information can do to a person.

I’ve certainly gotten MUCH better at handling the ups and downs of this career, but have set out with great determination to find the positive side of things, and to try not to indulge the bitter, dark side of humanity that is plastered everywhere for us to witness: terrorist attacks, genocide, greed, car bombs in Times Square, human trafficking, outrageous political machinations, inane bigotry, hateful and destructive religious extremism. The list is endless. And it so easily can give rise to a feeling of hopelessness and despair – which quite frankly equals death. Personally, I’m not interested in dying – metaphorically or literally – until it truly is my time.

So I choose to fight it in the very small ways that I can, and I have yet to find a better summation of how to confront such despair than by words that were uttered by the great Martin Luther King, Jr:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Last night I attended my very first Metropolitan Opera HD transmission here in Geneva. It was Rossini’s treacherous “Armida”, and everyone that was starring in the show I can happily call a friend of mine, which was a total hoot for me. I was SO thrilled to see them all giving such full-on performances and bringing joy to so many people.

(With my two wonderful co-stars, tenors Luciano Botelho and Gregory Kunde)

But when Larry Brownlee fell to his knees in the famous tenor-trio, his eyes burning with passion and tumult as he recognizes he must choose between love and duty, I was flooded with everything that is magnificent and miraculous about the human spirit. Here is a person who has overcome so many obstacles in his life to soar to the very top of the operatic world, and he has done it with utmost elegance, class and humility. He is on that stage to serve people, and to serve his talent. It is humbling to me, and inspiring beyond words. I watched someone yesterday who has crossed so many barriers to bring light into the world through his beautiful voice and generous spirit.

We need more of this beauty. We need more of this light.

How lucky we all are – because I assume each of you reading this embraces music as a provider of access to something extraordinary – to have something that brings beauty and serenity and comprehension and insight and joy and tears and has the power to open sometimes the most stubborn of closed doors within ourselves. I’m humbled to work in a business with so many wonderful colleagues that bring such beauty and generosity to the world.

But there are an infinite number of sources for beauty and joy – and I just love finding them.

PS – John Osborne gets a HUGE thank you from me for the fabulous “shout-out” during the 4-tenor interview in the intermission yesterday! Dude, you are awesome!!!

PPS – Final dress is on Monday, and after a very beautiful pre-dress, I think everyone is really looking forward to our opening on Wednesday. This one is a keeper!!

PPPS – In proof-reading this little post (which doesn’t always help, because I know I’m not the Queen of Grammar – too many “!!!!”s!) But the title says “Wisdom”. I don’t mean to imply it is “my” wisdom – it refers to MLK’s quote. Which is, indeed, wise. (See what I mean about the grammar?!?!)

11 Jun

Who needs espresso? Or to understand the wonder of life? Apparently I only need this....! https://t.co/F56DafpiH7

11 Jun

Indeed. https://t.co/p8G1st1OSG

9 Jun

Cry. You can reapply the concealer .... tears are cleansing and sometimes called for ... 😔 https://t.co/fd9hDX0OgS

FOLLOW Joyce DiDonato

#SummerLovin #LovinLavender #LavenderLovin

I arrive (nearly) to the end of this very full season, and it’s good moment to remind each of you reading this that YOU are the reason I travel the world, away from home for months at a time, working towards an unattainable perfection, exposed in ways very few people can imagine, singing the stories of characters searching for enlightenment/redemption/hope/relief/joy, and why I dedicate a large part of my life to this century’s old art form. I do it to entertain you at a minimum, but mostly to offer you comfort, to help us all join in a communal “event” that connects us across time and space despite our perceived differences, and I do it because I truly believe it makes the world a better place. I know you feel this most of the time as well. It’s likely what keeps bringing you back! I hope that after this season, perhaps you feel a bit more inspired to take what you receive as an audience member and activate that sensation in your own life, to bring hope and joy to the world around you. Don’t ever underestimate your power to do that - one doesn’t need the spotlight to bring transformation. #Songplay #Winterreise #Agrippina #Didon ✨

If this girl can do it, you can too!!!!!!! #belikeanant #heavyload #yourenevergivenanythingyoucanthandle #antsruletheworld #summerlovin

Grazie Mille @accademiadisantacecilia and the @baciopanino boys. What a JOY it was to perform with you all. Until the next time!

Celebrating #WorldOceansDay ... hoping every single one of you has the chance to swim in the vast blue ocean one day. Growing up in Kansas, I didn’t have the chance until I was in my 30’s, but when I finally did, an entire new universe opened right underneath me and I was changed. I’m so grateful for all that the planet’s oceans give to us. I want to be sure I’m doing all I can as a citizen of the world to take care of them and their vast, life-giving properties. Let’s get more informed and more active in protecting them and helping them thrive.

I was not prepared. The inspiration is through the roof to bring to life the towering cantata of #JoanOfArc tonight in the very cathedral de St. Denis, where she prayed for strength centuries and centuries ago. The same stones that received her pleas tonight will hear them again filtered through the mind of Rossini and the vibrations of those of us on stage. This, perhaps, is the thing I love most about the world of music - it connects us directly through time and space, and it shows us demonstrably how we are one. Ask me how much I love my “job”! @festivalsaintdenis @accademiadisantacecilia

#HowToFlower . . . What’s beautiful around you right now?

Grazie Mille, Roma. What a gift to be here for the briefest of moments - how much life we can find in the now!!!! #LightShower #Pantheon #Mystical #Luz #Luz #Luz #NoFilter #LookAround #Stopqndbreathe #batheinthelight #recoup #regenerate #batheingratitude #boydidtheromansknowhowtobuildabuilding #agrippinawashere #perfection #ladolcevita

And behind the scenes with Maestro Pappano and his @accademiadisantacecilia: a glimpse into the PROCESS which I love so much as we create our journey to prepare for the magic of the audience’s arrival. Thank you all for making our hard work so worthwhile!

Follow Joyce on Instagram

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

~ Joyce DiDonato