Joyce DiDonato presented the final concert of her Perspectives series at Carnegie Hall on March 18, in a sparkling performance that included tenor Lawrence Brownlee, soprano Laura Claycomb, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by Maurizio Benini. The program included highlights from Ms. DiDonato’s album Stella di Napoli and other favorites from the Bel Canto era. The WQXR archived broadcast of the event, which combined “explosive vocal fireworks, soaring melodies and sprightly orchestral textures,” (WQXR) is now available online.
The concert also received spectacular critical acclaim from The New York Times:
“Detractors of the bel canto style typically dislike it because, they argue, it is only that: beautiful singing . . . If that is true, Joyce DiDonato never got the memo. This magnetic mezzo-soprano wrapped up her Perspectives series at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday evening with a selection of arias and scenes from Bel Canto operas . . . The singing hit all the technical buttons, from . . . the thrilling speed of Ms. DiDonato’s signature trills. But what shone through most clearly was concentrated emotion of insistent, immediate relevance.
Ms. DiDonato’s riveting performance as Romeo opposite Ms. Claycomb’s Juliet of a scene from Bellini’s “I Capuleti e I Montecchi” felt as if layer upon layer of craft and technique had turned transparent: What the audience witnessed was not an artful reading of Bellini’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s take on youthful love but the feeling itself of hotheaded, never-mind-the-consequences passion.
The selections, many taken from Ms. DiDonato’s CD “Stella di Napoli,” included rarities from unfamiliar operas. But a listener need not have studied up on plotlines and character back stories to grasp the despair simmering beneath the prayer’s surface in Ms. DiDonato’s rendition of “L’amica ancor non torna,” from Carafa’s “Le Nozze di Lammermoor,” or to recognize the hard-edged egotism of the heroine singing “Ove t’aggiri, o barbaro,” from Giovanni Pacini’s “Stella di Napoli,” with its stiletto-sharp staccato scales and aggressively flamboyant ornaments . . .
Nothing was held back, however, in the encore, “À la faveur de cette nuit obscure,” from Rossini’s “Le Comte Ory,” which brought all three singers together in a fast, fun and saucy threesome.”
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim – The New York Times