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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!

20 Apr

😎 https://t.co/VlOVtLDZLS

20 Apr

Dashing my way to the airport ... so in a flash, the pardon rules and I can forever soak in the wonderful joy of th… https://t.co/nm39nhSAtX

20 Apr

It TRULY is my honor and pleasure! https://t.co/4ct3eHift6

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Live! Today! #Clemenza! @metopera #Broadcast! @vanhorncvh This one’s for you. #PublioRocks #WigWars #FreeSesto #fashion #werq #notreadytosaygoodbye

An extraordinary #openingnight on #Broadway last night as Orfeus’s song was sung anew in an astonishing show: #Hadestown. Immense respect for the incredible cast, crew, creative team, and for the eternal song that continues to need to be sung!!! A GREAT night of theater!! (And a huge shout out for NO routine key changes and assaulting amplification!) #fresh #whydowebuildthewall #pleasedontturnaround #doubt #destructivedoubt #raisingmycuprightback PS: @douglasladnier - thanks for the decades of friendship, my friend! You’re a treasure!

Our penultimate performance tonight of #LaClemenzaDiTito at the @metopera. This one will be difficult to say goodbye to! @polenzanitenor @elzasoprano @vanhorncvh @yingletsings #EmilyDAngelo @metoperachorus @metorchestra @metoperasupers #SestoForever

A most heartfelt thank you to these wonderful, brave artists. What a rich journey you all took us on during these 3 days. I couldn’t be prouder of each if you, and I thank you for giving so much of yourselves. I hope you felt how rich the reward was as you dared to walk through the fear!!! Bravi @key.sings, @alexandra_sings, @mayaamir91, and @aaroncmusic. Once again, @carnegiehall and @medici.tv are superstars for making these classes available across the globe. I hope you got a lot out of them! Many thanks for tuning in and see you next year!! #bravesingers #artislife #lifeisart #whereyouwalk #trustthepianissimo #openyourheart #nyanyanya #artheals #thatwasintense #keepyourpilotlightlit

I am thrilled to return to @CarnegieHall for three master classes this week! Tune in at 4 PM (EDT) today, tomorrow and on Sunday to watch the live stream on @medici.tv. 👉 link in bio. #masterclass #livestream

👉 Head over to @metopera! I am taking over the Met’s instagram account for our fourth performance of La Clemenza di Tito tonight. Stay tuned! #joyceforthemet #instagramtakeover Photo: Richard Termine / Met Opera

#NYstateofmind #noeffects #naturaltaxifilter #letthelightin #capturethemomentnow #naturenaturallyblowsmymind #prismsrock

Once upon a time there was a magical presence in the world who made us all believe in fairy tales again!! It was a tremendous honor to present Laurent Pelly with his well deserved @opera.news Award last night at the @theplazahotel in NYC. OF course so much of the Opera Family Royalty was on hand, including the [email protected]_domingo and fellow honoree, the radiant @ailynperezsoprano. Friends joining from KC made it even more special! Congratulations to all the honorees!!! #celebratingopera Photos from the fab @darioshoots and Lisa Pacino. @kevindeenart @palluccab

What a joy to join my @carnegiehall family, under the visionary leadership of the Chairman, Robert Smith, and the Executive Director, Clive Gillinson. I’m certain this legendary institution will lead many other arts organizations into a vibrant, transformative, inspired future where Art is for all. Of course, to commemorate such a shining occasion, how could we not celebrate the beauty of @cartier?? A million thanks for the exquisite jewels. And finally, there simply aren’t enough words to sing the praises of pianist @bryanwagorn highly enough. I suppose that’s why we felt the need for a mock prom pic. #howdoigettocarnegiehall #nolie #practicepracticepractice #andonceyougetthere #shineshineahine #thefutureisSObright #ifweallriseup. Thank you @julieskarratt for the lovely souvenir photos!

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

~ Joyce DiDonato