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Lightening up!

I just love my readers. You all are wonderful! I received the most interesting comments to my last post regarding my recent production here in Geneva. The comments were thought provoking, passionate, well-thought out, varied, insightful, and intensely personal – all the things that opera tends to stir up in people, and one of the reasons I LOVE being a part of such a crazy world. One person wouldn’t be caught dead at a production like this, and the next finds it one of the most moving, memorable nights ever in the theater.

The only thing I ask of an audience member is to try to come with some semblance of an open mind. I ask that of myself, as well, because it’s very easy to assume I know everything about an opera or particular character, or that, at first glance, a production may seem unreasonable or far-fetched. However, if I can remain open (mind you, I’m not speaking about being without opinion or easily brain washed), but simply OPEN – then I just might stumble upon something truly wonderful. Same for the audience.

It’s not an easy prospect, which is why it is, in my most humble of opinions, the highest of the arts – but we must keep searching and trying! But seriously, thank you for letting me express some ideas, and for your wonderful responses! I have truly enjoyed this production of “La Donna del Lago” and learned a tremendous amount from it, and I appreciate being given the chance to try something new and inventive. This keeps me alive as an artist.

But I want to lighten it up a bit now – even if I’m a bit behind in the timing. But some of you may have seen the cover of Gramophone for the month of May? (It should still be in your book stores for the time being.) I was lucky enough to be the cover girl, and had an absolute ball during the photo shoot. This is an element of the career that is a total blast for me – getting made up, being fussed over (which normally drives me crazy!) and playing in front of the camera for hours at a time.

It’s definitely not a skill that is taught in the conservatories, but rather something that you try to acquire (usually awkwardly, or at least that was my case!) over the years. It is another universe from singing on the stage, but with the right group around you, it can actually be a lot of fun.

In this case, they wanted it to be clear that I was an opera singer, so they asked me to be in costume. At first thought this sent major warning signals off for me, because with all the talk of wanting to make opera feel more “modern”, I thought the idea of me in some stuffy old 18th century get-up with a big powdered wig would look ridiculous. Instead, we came up with the idea of using the beautiful costume from “THE” Barber in London:


I couldn’t have been happier, because it is, truly, my favorite costume of all time. It’s slightly period, with that fabulous lace-up corset, but bold and brash with it’s vivid colors, not to mention infinitely “girlie” with the numerous pink touches. I’ll never forget that the brilliant costume designer, Agostino Cavalca, spent so much time in the early weeks of our rehearsals to see how I moved and how he might create a costume that was most organic to me as a performer singing Rosina. He succeeded brilliantly, and has spoiled me for all other productions.


For example, the fluffy pink “over-coat” that fits over the base green dress is meant to mimic the petals of a rose – driving home the “Rosina” element over and over. It was such a joy to wear, and OH did it feel great to be STANDING in the costume once again!

One can never, ever underestimate how important a costume is to a performer. It is an enormous element to the character development of a role, and one that cannot be overstated. I have worn beautiful costumes and horrid costumes, and I have worn ones which enhanced immeasurably my sense of character on the stage and ones which have obliterated my sense of self-esteem, directly affecting my performance in a negative way. It is not an easy job, but it is SUCH a vital part of what we do. I have learned to be less passive in regards to the development of a costume, and cannot fault the ladies who have come before me, fighting, sometimes famously, for their say in what they wear. There is a fine line, and balance – as always – is key, but I have learned that it is a far too important part of what I do to let it go for naught.

I will MISS this costume!!

And then we just had some fun – our wonderful photographer was rushing to catch a flight, so we just let loose and had a bit of fun. I won’t lie – this is definitely one of the fun perks of my job!


Thanks to the tireless Magda Krance for the fun, behind-the-scenes shots, including capturing my husband unawares!!

On another note, and speaking of fun “perks” – I get to meet some of the most astonishing, spectacular, talented, generous and most wonderful people in the world, doing what I do. One of them happens to be the (and yeah, I’m dropping names here!) the international best seller, and unabashed Handel Junkie, Donna Leon. If you never travel in airports or visit bookstores, you might not have seen her name – but if you have, surely you’ll recognize her as one of the best selling mystery writers of our day.

She has a delightful series going on with Detective Brunetti, set in her hometown of Venice, and the wicked and wacky circle of the inner world of crime and deceit is deliciously portrayed – not to mention tantalizing descriptions of the local cuisine in nearly every chapter! Well, my proudest claim to fame is that her latest book, “A Question of Belief”, happens to be dedicated to….me!! I was flabbergasted when she sent me the first manuscript with the inscription, “For Joyce DiDonato”, and even more astonished to receive a copy in hard print!! It’s a delightful read, and I, naturally, encourage you to go out and purchase one for everyone on your Christmas shopping list!


I’m proud to be able to say that you would be supporting an author who is single-handedly, one of the biggest and most generous supporters of the arts I have ever met. Granted – she limits her benevolence to All Things Handel, but you can imagine that this is just fine with me! She’s a true renegade!

2 more shows here in Geneva, which I’m very much looking forward to, and then it’s off to Paris to start rehearsals for another new production of this masterpiece. But if you had to miss out on this performance, or can’t make it to Paris, happily there will be a radio broadcast on JUNE 12 at 20:00 (European Time) on Radio Swiss Romande, Espace 2. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done here in Geneva and hope it will transmit as such over the radio!!!

In the meantime, can someone PLEASE do something about all this rain? Merçi, mille fois!

16 hours ago

Please join the Brentano String Quartet and me for this live-streamed event, and discover this haunting, evocative… https://t.co/J7ze3ixGe0

20 hours ago

You are welcome......most welcome https://t.co/uo8AmJnLnu

23 hours ago

Ich auch .... https://t.co/6ePrU4wBLo

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Please join the Brentano String Quartet and me for this live-streamed event, and discover this haunting, evocative cycle by Jake Heggie, "Into the Fire”. Photo: @chrissingerme @wqxr_classical @medici.tv @warner_classics @greenespacenyc

The joy and privilege of bringing this program with this orchestra and this maestro to @carnegiehall is immeasurable! Hope you can be there!! @philorch @nezetseguin #Chausson #DeadLeaves #Roses #Lilacs #Love #Loss #PainfulBeauty #SublimePartnership @nkodamusic

Thanks to all who came out to catch the @sonyclassics film #MariaByCallas! It was thrilling to experience her story with you all in this city that she so loved - and which loved her so!

It is so special to be back in #Philly and to be making music with the #INCREDIBLE @philorch and the divine @nezetseguin. The splendid fall leaves and colors are the perfect inspiration and backdrop for our concerts this weekend of Chausson’s “Poemes de l’amour et de la mer”, exploring the loss of love and life, dead leaves, general despair. I hope you’ll be able to join if you’re in the neighborhood this weekend, or at @carnegiehall on Tuesday!! #deadleavesarestillravishing

It shouldn’t take #Einstein to convince you to get out and #vote...but in case it does....voilà!

For the record . . .

It has been a wonderful experience giving voice to the letters of Maria Callas for this highly acclaimed film. Hope to see you in NY for these special viewings! @mariabycallas #mariacallas @tomvolf @angelikafilmcenterny

Heartfelt thanks to all of you for joining in for the experience of Les Troyens tonight, and throughout the run. It has been a pivotal experience of my artistic life to arrive here with this beautiful role and extraordinary opera. I shall never forget it. Thank you to the lovely @catecool for the photo.

Coming to you, LIVE, from the @wienerstaatsoper today with Berlioz’s epic telling of “Les Troyens”. Singing the Queen Didon has been an enormous gift, and I hope to be able to share it with you today on the livestream (available for an additional 72 hours). Where will YOU be watching from? Link: https://bit.ly/2qpSdza *Qui connut la souffrance ne pourrait voir en vain souffrir ... *

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

~ Joyce DiDonato