Grammy Bliss

I have been completely negligent on keeping up with my blog postings of late – I’m afraid the massive volume of music I’ve been facing has taken priority! But I was asked to write a guest blog for the Grammy Website, reflecting on my win for Best Classical Vocal Solo, and was more than happy to jot down a few thoughts on the magical experience, which I gleefully share with you here, as well:

“Non più mesta”

Although great and emotional moments abounded during my first-ever trip to the GRAMMYs, making it a weekend I will never forget, there was one moment that towered above all the others.

The invitation to perform at the Pre-Telecast Ceremony came as a complete shock because “opera” often seems to be viewed as a somewhat dirty word outside of our world of corsets and cadenzas, and our performances are not often granted the coveted spotlight in mainstream events. (Perhaps because they’re afraid we’ll be sporting our Viking helmets?) Through rocking nerves (and without a helmet) I proudly took to the stage with my pianist and performed “Non Più Mesta” from Gioachino Rossini’s La Cenerentola. The spontaneous standing ovation that greeted us after the final high note took me completely by surprise, taking away any breath I had left from the performance, and yet this wasn’t the moment.

As they announced the winner for Best Classical Vocal Solo, time seemed to stand still, yet it simultaneously seemed to burst into slow motion as I took the stage to accept my first GRAMMY. I remember forgetting to mention my amazing husband (may I please have a do-over?), but I did manage to articulate a few words about a passion of mine: arts education and the immense challenge facing music and arts teachers across the country.

Best Classical Vocal Solo

Feeling the powerful connection in the Los Angeles Convention Center rally around that sentiment was one of the most encouraging things I have ever witnessed, and something I hope we can all continue to address. But strangely enough, this wasn’t the moment, either.

Walking the red carpet, interviews, memories of Whitney Houston, rousing performances by the top of the pop world were all remarkable moments as well, but none of them were “it.”

My moment towered at about 5 feet 3 inches in the form of a young girl, no more than 15 years old, who ran up to me, shaking with excitement. My first thought was, “Does she think I’m Adele?!?” But no, she sought me out to say the following:

“Excuse me, I just have to say you were amazing. I don’t know what kind of music it was that you did, but where can I find more of it?”

She got it, and I hope she gets it for a lifetime.

That was my moment, and it is a golden and beautiful as my new shiny GRAMMY!


  1. Malcom Wessing said…

    Thank you for choosing to elevate your art above yourself, Joyce. I was immensely moved by the sharing of your Grammy moment. I am certain you’ll be remembered decades from now, and not only for your prodigious talent and exuberance, but also for your commitment to providing a lasting legacy for art and beauty. You are one of a kind!

  2. Richard Whittington said…

    It just shows that if you reach kids early enough, before they hear about how boring opera is supposed to be, they will soak up what’s good instead of what’s ‘cool’. I gave my niece and nephew a copy of Magic Flute for Christmas, they hummed Der Holle Roche afterward. I was one proud uncle!

  3. Squillo said…

    What a fabulous story!

    I remember very clearly the feeling your young fan expressed: I was sitting on my couch in college, procrastinating by watching a bit of t.v. We only a few local channels in those days, and I was “stuck” watching a PBS documentary about Maria Callas. First came the “Habañera”, then came the second act of Tosca, and it was all over for me. It was going to be opera from then on, and so it has been for the past 25 years.

    I hope the love for a new-to-her kind of music takes wing for your young admirer, and that it brings her as much joy as it’s brought me and countless others over the years.

  4. Sarah said…

    GO JOYCE! You are a rockstar, a wonderful role model, and you deserve every bit of your success. KEEP THE FAITH!

  5. Cristina G.N said…

    Dear Joyce

    En primer lugar deseo decirte que me alegro enormemente de que hayas recuperado tu salud y podamos nuevamente disfrutar de tu maravillosamente hermosa y bonita voz.Me entristeció mucho no poder escucharte aquí en Madrid en tu tour Ariodante,puedo asegurarte que mi corazón estuvo contigo y por muy bonita que sea la música de Handel y las interpretaciones de los otros artistas fueran buenas ninguna puede borrar de mi pensamiento la tuya porque para mi eres “La Mejor´´…Por otra parte no me parece nada extraño que la joven de 15 años que se acercó a ti tuviera estas palabras tan increiblemente hermosas porque cuando se escucha una interpretación tan humana como la tuya és muy dificil no amar la música.La música és arte pero también és sentimiento,alegría,mágia y medicina para el corazón.Muchas gracias por tu voz y disculpa si escribo muchas veces pero no lo puedo remediar porque te admiro inmensamente.

    All my best wishes


  6. D'ellis said…

    Brava, Ms. DiDonato, for your energy, your talent, your dedication, your inspiration, and for remembering what any art is all about – touching a human heart.

  7. Emi said…

    A delightful blog entry that chips away at the stereotype of opera being an inaccessible art form 🙂 I’m glad you had the opportunity to introduce opera to a wider audience, because you do it so well!

  8. alocksley said…

    We can hope that the young lady who sought you out is not alone; we can hope that she will realize that this music comes from joy, not rage, love, not anger, even melancholy, without the explitives.
    Congrats on your grammy, but the real reward, and I think you know this, is the impact you had on this young lady, and hopefully many others watching.
    Those of us who love this music, or any music that can convey its message without explitives, without lights, without amplification, will continue to believe, and you are one of our greatest heroines.
    Hope you’re feeling better. Looking forward to your Maria Stuarda at year-end.

  9. Dr. Ruth S. said…

    What a gift to be able to touch the heart; for all of us, young and old. You are “the great communicator.” You make music thrilling, to the ingenue and to the devoted fan. Thank you for sharing your gift.

  10. Nancy Lea said…

    as far as little kids and opera, the younger they are, the more likely they are NOT to have formed some preconceived notions and just enjoy the music, dance and spectacle! I was taken to the Met on tour when I was six for “Aida” and thought it was just wonderful fun!!! Are you ready for this cast? Mario del Monaco, Blanche Thebom, Leonard Warren (who I was taken backstage to meet…mutual friends of my parents fixed it up) and the one, the only, the legendary….ZINKA MILANOV!
    I fell in love with Warren…he looked like he had stepped out of my “Bible Stories” book..what six-yr-old would NOT fall for the sword, the armour, the sandals, the beard……start of my life as an opera junkie!!!

    • Nancy Lea said…

      I still visit his portrait whenever I’m at the Met….see what kind of impact this has?

    • alocksley said…

      get ’em early, Boris Goldovsky used to say.
      My daughter, on her way to a playdate when she was 7, found me watching the Met/PBS broadcast of “Flute”, ya know, the Taymor production. She refused to go to the playdate!!!
      Next year I took her to the performance at the Met, and she loved it.
      She’s seen Carmen and Boheme since…we’re working up the ladder…
      get ’em early… I agree!!

  11. Maude Larke said…

    Sweet speeech and sweet blog. Any chance of getting your grammy perfromance on your site? We Europeans weren’t all able to squat the web that night.

  12. Alex said…

    Joyce, that was such an inspirational post. I got goose-bumps as you wrote about the excited young girl, something that is found in few and far between nowadays. Thank you for being such an incredible inspiration for me and for (I’m sure of it) countless of other opera students. I hope I have the honor of seeing you perform in person one day!

  13. James Jandt said…

    Can one be breathless after reading a tale of breathlessness? Probably not. But, one can be moved and inspired and reminded to accept, if not look for, the moments in life which are the deep, little moments. When we see just below the surface; when we feel that subtle shift in the ordinary; when we feel the resonant connection with another person or people -then we are in a zone of awe. And we may experience it. If we are of the literate bent, we may write of it. And thus we have the Yankee Diva. Bravo to you and to the small moments!

  14. Theresa said…

    You were performing in Kansas City tonight on our PBS channel and it was my lst time ever seeing and hearing you perform.The depth with which you sang Sr. Helen Prejean’s piece was powerful. I have heard her speak in person at an educational conference in the Twin Cities.
    Esp. enjoyed your last piece of Over the Rainbow as we have a community group called Notables of 45 mixed gender and we are currently repeating our spring concert for our Giant Days in two weeks with the theme Dreams and Rainbows. Safe travels as you journey overseas and share your amazing talent. TD

  15. Theresa said…

    Thank you for a brilliant performance on our PBS station tonight which was from Kansas City. It was my lst experience getting to know you. Your concert there was spellbinding and will see if I can get some CD’s of your music. TD

  16. Melanie said…

    Every hair on my body stood up when I read about your moment. What we do is so human and has just as much chance to touch a person as any music found at the GRAMMYs.

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