Blog

Parisian Photo Safari

Sadly, the weather here in Paris hasn’t inspired me to be out and about too much with my beloved camera: grey, dreary, rainy, cool. And I’ve been a bit preoccupied with recitals (I LOVE YOU PARIS and the TCE!) and openings (which includes body-recovery-time from the heavy costume!) and promotions (I wish my abs where getting as good a workout as my French!) and role preparation (HELLO ADALGISA, finally we have the pleasure of meeting properly!) Yes, it’s been a whirlwind of time here in lovely-even-when-you’re-grey Paris, overflowing with learning curves and struggles and triumphs and celebrations and overwhelming beauty, of both art and people.

Last Saturday I had the great pleasure of attending the final dress rehearsal of “Pelléas et Mélisande” at the Opéra Comique, the very theater, it so happens, where this very masterpiece debuted 98 years ago. I had never seen the opera before, but my curiosity had been long piqued by the great Richard Stilwell declaring it was the greatest opera ever written. I was lucky enough to attend with David Zobel who, other than warning me it was essentially a 5-act long French Recitative, he was able to steer me through much of the symbolism, leit-motifs and subtler points, enhancing my experience greatly.

I was transported to another world, suspended in this alternate sonic and aural universe for over three hours and I loved it. It was a complete departure from the “lake” where I had been abiding for weeks, and I welcomed the stimulating and rewarding, beautifully conducted and directed evening.

As I was sitting outside waiting for friends, I was reminded that in looking for inspiration, it rarely perches itself directly in front of you at eye-level. Often it asks that you change perspective, shift things around, and perhaps even gaze upwards…


Now here is the part where I beg your indulgence not to hate me too much! I apologize straight away to any of you who may dream of having such an afternoon but have yet to experience it: it really wasn’t my fault! But I wish that should you desire it, you may each experience this, or something close to it!

Last Tuesday I had a private tour of the Louvre. Not the WHOLE Louvre, mind you, but some spectacular highlights. It was indescribable and unforgettable. Priceless, in fact, like each piece of art that makes their home in those hallowed, storied walls.

(Feel free to click on the photos – they can open in a larger format)


I cannot tell you how this experience lifted me up. To walk in silence and solitude among these enormous galleries, filled with the efforts of artists across the ages who strove to put their stamp on goodness, beauty and truth, well, it touched me very deeply. Without the chaos of the crowds and the (gasp!) tourists, the silence almost becomes deafening and you can imagine that each of these works of such great art have a life of their own.

You can hear Pygmalion’s near gasp as he realizes that Galatea, his beloved statue is coming to life before his astonished eyes (the feet still in alabaster, the cheeks flushed with the first signs of love):


You can hear the soft, erotic sighs as Cupid and Psyche entwine their arms around each other. If there is a more perfect sculpture from each and every angle, I’ve never seen it! It steals the breath.


The lovely Ms. Lisa gets photographed over and over, but it’s nice to see what she’s actually peering at night and day, day and night:


Not a bad view, if you ask me!

The amazing thing of this visit, as wonderful as the individual works of art were, was being able to see the scope and the scale of these rooms without pedestrian interference! You realize how important art has been to the human race over the centuries, how it deserves a place of honor, and how the space and grand aesthetic help prepare us to absorb the truths waiting to be discovered.


It was an extraordinary afternoon, one that will long remain in my heart, and one that fed me deeply, which I was desperately needing! It helped inspire me for the little song-fest I gave over at the TCE last Wednesday. I wanted to thank those of you who attended. I don’t know that I have ever experienced such a warm, overwhelming reception before (I was truly overcome!) and it will live in my memory for a long time. I had a BALL and David (the magnificent!) and I duly celebrated with his family and close friends afterwards. We felt so lucky to make music together that evening in Paris!


Goodness, what else could possibly be missing? I’m in Paris: did the opera, the museum, the wine, the friends….

AH YES! THE CHEESE!!!


It was a beautiful week, and despite the grey, overcast skies, the light of true art, beauty, wonderful food and wine, and most importantly, wonderful friends, was truly shining brightly. My cup truly runneth over.

5 hours ago

CONGRATULATIONS, Sister Doctor Helen .... or Doctor Sister Helen. Regardless, thank you for your tireless leadershi… https://t.co/bzjY25lAGl

5 hours ago

NO WORDS to express how deeply and profoundly I agree with this . . . thanks for the beautiful reminder of what rea… https://t.co/lVehxL65fN

23 hours ago

#People can do #EXTRAORDINARY things. https://t.co/7ZxdpSk0TC

FOLLOW Joyce DiDonato

“Alex, I’ll take welcoming hotel hallways for $1,000, please.” #AgrippinasKarma #Poppeawarnedme #whereitalyandaustriamergeforbetterorforworse #redrum #heresjoycee #seriously #RIGHTOUTSIDEMYDOOR #touringlife

TONIGHT we bring our #Agrippina to the @liceu_opera_barcelona for 3.75 hours of scheming da capos!! No puc esperar!!!! #elpoderabsolutcorrompeabsolutament #totiaixíaquestsrecitatius #diversíoperversa Photo: Javier Del Real @ilpdo

Close up of the print on my Agrippina Dress! I found the silk in #Shanghai and knew it was for this aspiring, conquering Handelian Roman!!! #dragonsandbuildingsandsilkohmy #abdolutepowercorruptsABSOLUTELY #norestforthewicked #rulersareyoutakingnote??

Last night I had the great, wicked joy of debuting the role of Agrippina with my beloved Il "Pomo d'Oro" orchestra and a wonderful cast. It’s going to be great fun getting to know her more and more ... not a moral fiber to be found in her!!!! Reminds me of a few people presently in power, no?? #absolutepowercorruptsABSOLUTELY #motheroftheyear #wheresmythrone #whatdoesagirlhavetodotogetacrown #thoserecitsthough 📸: @catecool

When I first flirted with the idea of taking on #Agrippina, it was asked of me, “But you do know she’s quite wicked, right?” Oh yes. I know. A new tour begins NOW with an extraordinary cast and my beloved partners Il Pomo d’oro with Maxim Emelyanychev at the helm. Between our limited 5-city tour, we are RECORDING!! • Handel: AGRIPPINA Luxembourg City • Madrid • Barcelona • Paris • London Il "Pomo d'Oro" orchestra @ilpdo @maxim_emelyanychev, harpsichord/director • Joyce DiDonato - Agrippina @LucaPisaroni - Claudio @elsabenoitsoprano - Poppea @xaviersabata - Ottone / Giunone Franco Fagioli- Nerone @andrewmastroni - Pallante @carlo.vistoli - Narciso Biagio Pizzuti - Lesbo • #BacktoHandel #Wicked #absolutepowercorruptsabsolutely #ihavealwaysbraggedabouthowmuchiloverecitative #timetoputmymoneywheremymouthis #HIGHDRAMA #handel @philharmonie_lux @teatro_real @liceu_opera_barcelona @theatre_champs_elysees @barbicancentre @askonasholt STYLING: @vitatzykun PHOTO: @chrissingerme

“I left my heart ... in Windy Chi-Town...” Aside from the glorious music making with the astonishing, treasured @chicagosymphony, it was this day at the Warrenville Juvenile Detention Center that stole my heart. I applaud the CSO and Maestro Muti for their commitment to bring their music to these beautiful kids, and I was deeply honored to sing for them. Seeing tears come to their eyes as they experienced Mozart first hand was simply life-affirming. As the beautiful girl in the yellow shirt told me afterwards as tears spilled from her eyes, “I don’t know what happened to me, but it feels like all of the anguish I’ve ever felt in my life came pouring out of that music.” Let’s not EVER underestimate the need for human connection in these kids’ lives. In a broken system and an often broken world, music and the arts are a bonafide, VITAL part of healing. How can you help? Photos: @toddrphoto

Can you #HANDEL the #glamour? You know you can’t!!! 🤓 Hotel room studying, people. It’s real, it’s thrilling, and it’s my most favorite thing everrrrrrrrrrrrr. [srcsm] #sheisNOTplayingaround #anythingforthethrone #andstillshepersisted #couldthereBEmorerecitative? #no #notherecouldnot #justtakethethronealready #GOTagrippinastyle #absolutepowerblahblah #historySUREDOESrepeat #andstill ... #thisroleisEPIC

Getting my Cléopâtre on! What a JOY to be back on stage with the singular @chicagosymphony making extraordinary music together. I’m so glad to be here.

I am thrilled to remain in the gorgeous world of Berlioz a while longer and look forward to singing his poignant cantata La Mort de Cléopâtre with the brilliant Chicago Symphony Orchestra​ and Maestro Riccardo Muti​ this week! May 2, 4 & 7: Orchestra Hall May 3: Wheaton College​ @chicagosymphony @riccardomutimusic Photo: Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune

Follow Joyce on Instagram

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

~ Joyce DiDonato