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.

21 Comments

  1. Mei said…

    What about macarons…? This weather invites to spend an evening in a good patisserie

  2. Yankeediva said…

    Yes, Mei – the macarons are impeccable, but I'm afraid I have to wait a bit for those, after all the fromage I digested!!!

  3. mamascarlatti said…

    Don't know what looks more delicious, the Veronese or the cheese. Macarons don't do it for me but when I lived in Paris as a child I was addicted to éclairs au café. Enjoy your time there, Joyce.

    And by the way you are doing a great job of bringing the younger generation into opera – my seven-year-old is devoted to your Barber of Seville DVD, and my 14-year-old was blown away by your Dejanira mad scene in Hercules. Thank you for your work and the pleasure you bring to us.

  4. Samantha said…

    This is truly incredible! Although slightly jealous of the private tour, I excitedly await such experiences as I continue my training toward my own aspiring operatic career. 🙂

    P.S. Thank you for the wonderful advice/wisdom that you offered to me awhile ago on conquering jet lag/stepping off a plane and singing…I leave in one week for that audition in Austria and know it'll all be grand! 🙂

  5. Emma said…

    I am a bit jealous of your "Lucky day at Le Louvre"
    when I was there last week it was flooded with tourists….. no surprise

    Thank you for your pictures!!!

    And I'll have to do a bit of research on "Pelléas et Mélisande." It sounds very interesting to me.

  6. An Englishwoman abroad said…

    Oh, what JOY – a private tour of the Louvre, first hearing the incomparable Pelleas, and a proper French cheese plate 🙂 Thanks so much for the enthusiasm; it's as inspiring as ever.

    I will admit to a state of total green-eyed jealousy about the private gallery visit! Having the chance to absorb the art in its magnificent surroundings without ceaseless distraction – how simply wonderful. And thanks for the reminder that we still as a society prize art enough to afford it the best surroundings; I shall I suspect be musing on that theme all day, and shall make a point of appreciating the theatre as I go in!

  7. Wolfgang said…

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post – this was precisely the kind of inspiration badly needed on such a rainy Monday morning!! What many of your posts show – and your photography is a perfect vehicle to emphasize this point – is that all forms of art are somehow interwoven. By opening one of these doors, you gain access to so many other avenues to beauty and inspiration – thank you for taking us along on this travel! And I can only second what mamascarlatti said, you somehow manage to open these doors to all kinds of new audiences…

    Enjoy Paris !!

  8. Zsolt said…

    Dear Joyce!

    Thank you for the wonderful report, very happy to read it, and very happy that you have so many great and unforgattable moments in Paris.

    You should make a book from your posts, because it so enjoyable to read all this.

    Looking forward very much for your Adalgisa, can't wait fot the 9. August in Salzburg for the Norma with my beloved Gruberova.

    Zsolt

  9. Georgios said…

    Being able to visit the artworks while the galleries are closed is such a treat. As a museum worker myself I frequently use that privilege and it is truly wonderful to have favourite artworks all to myself.

    Of course it's totally a different experience to share them with people that are there to immerse themselves into one artist's work or another. Both solitary and group appreciation of art is life affirming, something that your post has put through so brilliantly!

    Keep on enjoying Paris and all the best for the rest of your run!

    G

  10. Raisa said…

    Victoire Samothrace! What a breathtaking sight: especially looking up from the bottom of those stairs – I'll never forget it!
    What an amazing feeling it must have been to find yourself one on one with the best of what humans have created… It absolutely comes through in your fabulous photos, Joyce!
    Love the fromage shot! What about crepes with chantilly cream? It's a piece of heaven, if you ask me.

  11. Irishrover said…

    The CHEESE indeed!!! I missed it so much when I was abroad! This and a fresh baguette. Nothing better to finish (or start!!!) the day 🙂

  12. Nathalie Nierengarten said…

    Hello Joyce,

    I just heart you singing on France Inter by «Le fou du roi» and I wanted to say to you you where just grandiose!! I don't know how to say it in english, but I head «chaire de poule» (something like chicken skin :)… Wow!

    Best regards, Nathalie

    PS: your french accent is really nice 🙂

  13. Sophie said…

    Je viens de vous entendre sur France Inter, merci pour ce grand moment et c'est avec un immense plaisir que je découvre votre travail de photographe.
    Bravo je reviendrai

  14. gaulimauli said…

    Nice going, Yankee-Diva!What an extraordinary privilege, being handed the keys to the Louvre. Is Mr. Sarkozy an opera fan,perhaps?
    Only(half) kidding.
    The other coup-your television appearance, you probably made more friends than most Americans in recent memory. And yes-you look delectable in that casual outfit-in contrast to the chainmail they make you wear on stage. Didnt afeect your singing apparently, as one critic observed:"JDD is an ebullient Elena, tossing off her final rondo with breathtaking ease".Well, enough of that-back to the saltmines, but"with a song in my heart", etc.

  15. edgar said…

    Hi JoyDe…

    Hope you enjoy yourself in France!

    be well

    Edgar

  16. Jamie Henderson said…

    Thank you for the wonderful photos! To see some of the world's best sculptures (in my opinion!), you have to go to the Rodin Museum in Paris if you have time..
    Best wishes,
    Jamie
    London

  17. Jamie Henderson said…

    Oh, and I am so despondent that I will not be able to go to Salzburg to see my two favourite divas i.e. your good self, and the wonderful Edita Gruberova, who, amazingly, made her stage debut in the year I was born (1968!) and who I have been following around for nearly twenty years. I hope your collaboration is a fruitful one (and is repeated in London!!) and that you will report back on the rehearsal process..
    Jamie
    London

  18. gaulimauli said…

    Addendum
    Just discovered THE PICTURE on your "official website". What a stunning photograph!!!This is a notch or two above the usual glamour shots. And, wow, you look determined!
    Now back to " docile, respectful, do-as-I'm told" Rosina, for a change of pace.
    It's a busy schedule-stay cool!

  19. John Kenneth Adams said…

    Hi Joyce, Be sure to read today's International Herald Tribune with its glorious review of La Donna. The costumes look wonderful in the photos. Speaking of photos,the ones you did in the Louvre are wonderful. Don't you think the placement of the Winged Victory says alot about French culture..that rare ability to display to the maximum effect,yet effortlessly. Also, Pelleas (1902)…I am relieved but not surprised you loved it…after all, you do love French repertoire! I think Paris is second home for you now. Just a great season for you this year. Regards, John Kenneth

  20. Clive said…

    Dear Joyce,

    I was lucky enough to get to your TCE recital in Paris (all the way from Sydney). A wonderful performance! Elegant, witty, musically superb, generous (those demanding encores!) AND funny.

    One question: is there a Melisande lurking inside somewhere? A more fullblooded one than we usually get…

    Clive

  21. Libra said…

    Hi Joyce!
    I saw you two years ago like Idamante. That's was my first opera "live" at Teatro Real. I liked so much.
    Thanks a lot of for this blog, and these marvellous fhotograhs from Paris.
    Best regards.

Leave a Comment

Audio Player

Newsletter

Twitter

12 hours ago

Toi Toi Toi you gorgeous artists and heavenly theater folks!!!! https://t.co/6kfhATZiPg

23 hours ago

I’m going to need video. (And tell your students to sing out! 🤩) https://t.co/6vUYDquuNE

18 Sep

It only counts if I see the photos! :-) https://t.co/YQi4vlOC5r

FOLLOW Joyce DiDonato

Instagram

Well, if it’s not a “Two Widows” Reunion!!!!! @operabrandon, what a joy to share the stage with you again after tw%#*y years! And here I am again, a W2BW! (Widow To Be Wooed) Bonus points for anyone who actually attended our *historic* performances in Smetna’s underperformed opera way back in 1998 in #Chautauqua!!! #Chautauqua2Carthage #Smetna2Berlioz #HappilyEverAfter2TotalDestruction

I could not be happier or more excited that our wonderful album of Les Troyens has been named “Recording of the Year” at tonight’s Gramophone Award ceremony. Thank you to the visionary and magical music-making of John Nelson, my fabulous cast members and to @warner_classics for in believing in this project. It has been a pleasure and an extreme privilege to be a part of it. THANK YOU!!! Viva Les Troyens and viva #Berlioz.

Tune in to Great Performances | PBS to watch @metopera #Cendrillon broadcast at 12PM ET today! ✨👠👸 Photo: Paola Kudacki / Met Opera #greatperformancespbs

What a perfect, beautiful, timely moment to embrace a fairy tale: don’t miss the Metropolitan Opera's heralded production of “Cendrillon” on @PBS Great Performances! Bask in the beautiful French melodies of Massenet. Laugh at the charming staging. Marvel at the gorgeous costumes. Revel in the soaring vocal lines of our brilliant cast. I’ve spent over 20 treasured years with Cinderella, and I’d love to share this final trip to the palace with you! @metopera @alice.coote @sblythe327 @sop_kathleen_kim #laurentnaouri @metoperachorus @metorchestra #bertranddebilly #laurentpelly

Happy Friday, everyone! I wanted to start the weekend with something special that I hope you’ll enjoy! In celebration of the release of my new album “Into the fire” featuring Jake Heggie’s profound song cycle about Camille Claudel, I created this playlist featuring some of my favorite tracks of Jake’s music. 🎧 Link in bio. He is not only a dear friend, he also captures human emotions so beautifully in this writing and I am always stunned by his sheer abundance of music ideas, languages and styles. I have been fortunate enough to sing a lot of his music throughout my career and I have so many beautiful memories of each and every one of his works I performed. I will never forget the profound impact on everyone in the cast and in the audience for each performance of “Dead Man Walking” and the wonderful humanity and insight into the life of a performer in “Great Scott”. Jake’s songs are part of almost every recital I give and I hope to be able to share how special his music is, via this playlist I created for all of you! @warner_classics @applemusic

I’m in LOVE with performing #Berlioz with @monteverdi_choir_orchestras (#ORR). Add into the mix performing at the @bbc_proms and I’m positively done. My personal recommendation is that you tune in tonight for a rousing listen on @bbcradio3!!! #colormelucky #tragicdeathxtwo #berliozrocksmyworld

Thank you #Hamburg and the stunning @elbphilharmonie for such a warm welcome last night. Congratulations on the start of another stunning season. An even warmer debt of gratitude for the stunning Orchestre Révolutionaire et Romantique and Sir John Eliot Gardiner for divine, powerful music making. Cléopâtre has never suffered such a brutal death!! Look out, #London: you’re next!! @bbc_proms

Hello from Hamburg! I am thrilled to start the 2018/19 season with two concerts conducted by the legendary Sir John Eliot Gardiner​ and his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, tonight at @elbphilharmonie Hamburg and on September 5 at the @bbc_proms in London. I will sing Didon’s death scene from Les Troyens and La mort de Cléopâtre. The next two months are all about #Berlioz for me and I could not be more excited to sing this gorgeous music. 📻 Our concert at the @royalalberthall on September 5 will also receive a live broadcast on @bbcradio3. I hope you all had a spectacular summer. I am very excited to start this new season and I look forward to seeing you at one of my performances! Photo: @chrissingerme

#shattered #glass #beautyinthebroken #geometry #viennaairport #timetofly #aspsawait @bbc_proms #hereicome #queencleo #speakingofshattered ...... 😎💋😎

Follow Joyce on Instagram

Facebook

Flickr

  • A photo on Flickr
  • A photo on Flickr
  • A photo on Flickr
  • A photo on Flickr
  • A photo on Flickr
  • A photo on Flickr
  • A photo on Flickr
  • A photo on Flickr
  • A photo on Flickr

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

~ Joyce DiDonato