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Airplanes, recitals and sleep, oh my!

There is a very practical reason why it behooves me to write more often, simply so that I can avoid long, dragged out posts as the one that is sure to follow, however, I’m not a writer – I’m a singer, and singing has been calling.  Boy, has it been calling.  So I’ve kept the writing on hold, and it has patiently waited for me to click back over.  I won’t pretend this will be cohesive, so buckle your seat belts and let’s go!

"Like Mezzos to a Heggie", photo by Patrick Summers

Jake Heggie has a long-standing reputation for favoring mezzo-sopranos in his writing, and it’s quite true – he has perfected the soaring, lyrical voicing for which we mezzos clamor.  He also happens to be one of the most genuinely generous and loving people I’ve ever met, so it’s not surprising he had the 3 of us flocking to him like, well, like Mezzos to a Heggie.  But let’s just take a look at those other 2 faces: the first day of rehearsal I found myself sandwiched between Susanne Mentzer and Frederica von Stade on a bench speaking through the text, and let me tell you, I couldn’t stop giggling, nor gushing.  These two served as my mentors, idols and heroines in the opera business, not only for their unparalleled artistry, but for serving as examples of remaining true to yourself, having a vibrant life off the stage, and for genuine, caring dispositions.  This run of “Dead Man Walking” in Houston was beyond a dream come true to share the stage with such beautiful artists, and to have the opportunity to learn from them in such a direct fashion was a gift I will never forget.

With the gorgeous Leonard Foglia ~ photo by Jake Heggie

This run of Dead Man held so many elements of emotion and joy, words fail me miserably to try and capture them adequately.  Not only was it an emotional journey of epic proportions with a very special and close cast, but it was an endless source of learning and discovery for me.  One of the reasons for that was working with our stage director Lenny, who brought out the very best in all of us. He created a very safe environment for us to take risks in the rehearsal process, he prompted us to continually find the simplicity and the truth in the scene, and he always knew when to bring humor to the intense table!  He MOST graciously agreed to do a little “interview” with me, and I’ve got it all in the can – I just need time to assemble it. So do stay tuned for unbelievably valuable insight from this dream of a man!

Frederica von Stade as "Joe's Mother", in her final operatic performances

I recognize that I’ve written quite a lot about Flicka’s influence on me (and I honestly don’t expect to stop any time soon) but her final show was something indescribable.  She was brilliant.  She was fine. She was composed.  I suspect she was quite ready for this and embraced it with a dignity and a beauty that will serve as an inspiration for many people for a long time to come.  It was the REST of us that were a mess!  Tears were flowing and emotions were raw and high, including the majority of the audience.  I can’t quite describe (again, words failing me!) what it was like to share her final phrases with her in our brief duet, and then to watch as she rose beside me and took her final exit into the dark but famliar wings.  My throat swelled and the notes definitely did not flow as I would have liked, but a moment like that takes hold and you simply have to go with it.  She stood in the wings and watched us close out the show, and yet I think all of us were consumed with thoughts that it simply seemed impossible that this was it for her, she who still sings like an angel.  However, it was a moment, a glorious unforgettable moment, where a star taught us mere mortals what it means to let go and head straight into the next chapter, with enthusiasm, generosity and joy.  It is something I shall never forget, and I know I am not alone.

David Zobel in Houston at the start of our tour

Speaking of the next chapter, the day after we closed DMW, David Zobel, my astonishing partner on this recital tour, and I drove North – how I love a road trip! – and before we knew it, on Tuesday in the chill of Fort Worth, we were standing on the stage of the beautiful Bass Hall kicking off our recital tour! It’s been quite a few weeks, and exhaustion has certainly been a close companion, but we have had the most wonderful time criss-crossing the country with our new program.  (Without question, the best weapon against getting run down lies in a good night’s sleep, and so my plan of attack has been loads of shut-eye where possible.)  The mystery of performing the same concert for various venues on different evenings never ceases to astound me, for there is no predicting how a particular audience will respond, or what colors we may stumble upon during the course of the night. Each of our 4 concerts so far has been very different, and therein lies the joy!

As I’ve mentioned on some of these concerts, the idea of the song recital was borne out of small gatherings in salons of composers, or singers – a chance for friends to gather and share in the intimacy of music making.  I’ve enjoyed so much visiting different venues and sharing in the musical journey of different genres, languages, emotions and colors, and thank all the audience for taking the journey along with us!  It’s hard to identify any concert that stands out, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how amazing it was to be home for my birthday singing for my family and friends. I won’t soon forget that!

The other excitement is that Diva~Divo is officially released around the world! It feels amazing to have a project that I worked very hard for and believed in come to fruition. (I’ll never quite get used to the excitement of seeing a project completed months ago suddenly appear in my mailbox!) In honor of the international release, I put together a sort of underground video taken from some of the fabulous people I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the past few months.  It’s fun and I think you may have a laugh or two.  You can see it HERE! ENJOY!

9 hours ago

9 Dec

9 Dec

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Looking forward to these powerful concerts with Yannick @nezetseguin! Schubert: Winterreise • Dec 08 | @clubmusicaldequebec Dec 11 | @princeton University Dec 15 | @carnegiehall * 📅 joycedidonato.com/category/events/🖥 *Live on @medici.tv - Dec. 15. www.medici.tv/en/calendar/ • • “The DiDonato/Nézet-Séguin pairing is inspired, one of those special nights where you rarely get to see two musical superstars pull off a work of this magnitude.” • ~ Independent Kansas City

And with the snap of the fingers, this blissful, nourishing tour with the extraordinary @orchestre_metropolitain comes to a conclusion. After touring some of the top halls in North America, what a joy to finish in the home of the @philorch, another base for the boundless energy and gifts of @nezetseguin. It also wraps up 3 astonishing months for me, going from Agrippina in London, across Sputh America and landing in DC for #InWarAndPeace, launching the new recording of #Damnation, visiting the @npr #tinydesk, (look for it in Jan!), and even traveling to ancient Egypt yesterday! Is there a more perfect conclusion to this memorable period than #Mozart? I think not! Photo: @fgoupil #partopartotomorrow #thatclari netthough #fullcircle #lastsangthisariainphillytwentyfouryearsagoatavaforthedeathbyariasingoff #spellcheckTHAT

#StandingOvation to the entire #Akhnaten Family for this beautiful performance today. Utterly unforgettable!!!! #Repost @metopera with @get_repost ・・・ Mezzo-soprano @joycedidonato hosted today’s Live in HD transmission of Philip Glass’s Akhnaten—seen in more than 70 countries worldwide. 🌎 Don’t miss her performance in the upcoming production of Agrippina, live in cinemas on February 29! #MetHD #MetOpera #Opera #Akhnaten #PhilipGlass #LiveinHD #Movies

Live from the Met in one hour! The Met's epic production of Philip Glass' Akhnaten is shown live on screen in cinemas worldwide and I am thrilled to host the broadcast. In bocca al lupo to this stellar cast! I can't wait to see the show and speak to you about this gorgeous work. @metopera #metopera #liveinhd #Movies #PhilipGlass #Akhnaten @philipglassmusic @arcostanzo #MetHD

An overwhelming evening last night @carnegiehall, with my fellow Perspective”s Artist, @nezetseguin, as he brought his first orchestra, @orchestre_metropolitain, to this beautiful hall for the first time. The pure joy and abundant love that poured forth from the legendary stage in the remarkable Bruckner 4 elevated us all. What a gift it is to be a part of his world. 🎉💃🎉 Photo: @fgoupil

It was an overwhelming musical experience to return to Strasbourg and my "Berlioz Family" to bring "La Damnation de Faust" to life! Released today, I can't think of a more perfect way to round out this Berlioz Year. I hope you will listen and be swept away, as we all were by the experience! @philharmonique_de_strasbourg @spikelmyers @nicolascourjal @alexandreduhamelbaritone @warner_classics @warnerclassicsus • 💿 Link in bio to pre-order the album. • • #berlioz #berlioz150 #yearofberlioz #faust #opera #newmusicfriday

LOVE. #greatmindsthinkalike #fashion #OMUSA @nezetseguin @orchestre_metropolitain #tourlife #makestheworldgoaround

Thank you #AnnArbor, @umspresents, @orchestre_metropolitain , beloved @nezetseguin, and divine #Mozart. My soul is well-nourished tonight. ❤️❤️❤️

What fabulous news to wake up to, today!!!! So proud to be nominated for this hugely joyful project!!! Way to go, @craigterrypiano, @hotlipsporter, @lautaro_greco, #ChuckIsraels and #JimmyMadison!! Let’s Play On!!! #doesthatsaytwentytwenty #newdecaderealness #grammygrammygrammy @recordingacademy #grammys

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

~ Joyce DiDonato