Concert Reviews

Joyce DiDonato at National Concert Hall

GoldenPlec
by Michael Lee
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That this is no ordinary concert is clear before even entering the auditorium. On the programme stands there are cards for everyone in the audience, inviting answers to the question ‘in the midst of chaos, how do you find peace?’

Joyce DiDonato, touring with period-instrument ensemble Il Pomo d’Oro, has themed this concert ‘In War and Peace: Harmony Through Music’. Once inside, the lighting is low, there is a smudge of dry ice in the air, and there is the singer herself, seated statue-like at the rear of the stage while at the front a male figure lies on the ground, his body twisted like a torso from a baroque painting.

The theatricality continues with the concert, with DiDonato’s flowing designer gowns and physical gestures, occasional interventions of dancer/choreographer Manuel Palazzo (who nevertheless avoids baroque dance, clearly still a step too far even for early-music fans), and abstract animations projected on the back wall, video-art style. The sophisticated presentation is matched by the eclectic and themed programme, centring on music by Handel and Henry Purcell: the first half evoking the experience of war and conflict with a second half all peaceful reverie and hopeful victory. It’s creative and engaging and far from being a didactic slog, though the intention is clear: we need art, now more than ever.

There are many pleasures along the way. At the heart of it all, DiDonato’s voice is as beautiful, richly-coloured and agile as ever, and she proves a compelling advocate for her material. The aria Prendi quel ferro, o barbaro [take the sword you monster] from Leonardo Leo’s opera ‘Andromaca’ brings in a feverish intensity, sung with fabulous power, contrasted with moments of deep tenderness.

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We will remember it, as well!! https://t.co/YTp5KRyCLU

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Thank you, Nicola! https://t.co/K5KQ9KgBPI

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Thank you so much, Steffi. We are so happy it was such a profound experience for you. https://t.co/a3imVhW4cN

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In the midst of #chaos, how do you find #peace? #inwarandpeace #talkpeace #dopeace #bepeace @ilpdo

Bon Dia, World!!! Back on tour from today with #inwarandpeace, ready to pick up our quest for harmony!! @fcgulbenkian @ilpdo #vivaportugal #TalkPeace #DoPeace #BePeace

What glorious human beings. It was he privilege of a lifetime to honor this amazing woman, Frederica Von Stade, recognizing the priceless contributions she makes to her community and to the world last night in San Francisco. Of course, it couldn’t have happened without the tireless and ever-inspiring Jake Heggie. I floated out of there convinced the love in that room (and the amazing young talent) can save the world!!! #ibelieve #musicismagic #SANFRANSISCOCOMMUNITYMUSICCENTER

What an unforgettable experience, bringing Massenet’s storybook opera #Cendrillon to the stage of the @metopera for the first time in its storied history. It has been a dream to sing about love while surrounded by so much of it - from the cast and crew, to the @metoperachorus, @metorchestra, to YOU the audience, who laughed and cried with us all. I’ll never tire of this story, a wonderful balm for the world. A billion thanks to everyone involved, most especially my #PrinceCharming, @alice.coote! #OperaIsMagic #happilyeverafter #firstandprobablylastmetstageselfie

#Cinderella #Red #Couture #OperaRocks #OperaFashion @metopera @metoperasupers @metoperachorus There are no words to describe the joy that has been this show. Merçi a tous!!!!!

#sisters and #fairies and #gowns, OH MY!!!!!

#howtobackstage @metopera @metoperachorus #cendrillon #thriller? #operaismagic #operaiswhack

#cinders.......time to say goodbye.....😭😭😭

What a bunch of #disruptors!! Loved being honored as one of them last night at the inspiring @nationalsawdust gala. (It also felt like #prom with the tireless and innovative @arcostanzo!) And for the record? @esperanzaspalding is #everything. So is #TerrenceMcNally - as soulful a disruptor as ever there was!!!! @elenalumahai @tomkirdahy #creation #arttransforms #shakeyourselfupfromtheinside

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

~ Joyce DiDonato