The New Herald: Joyce DiDonato, singing that is more than singing

It is not a secret that in a great singer the voice is not everything. Having it is an absolute privilege that implies responsibilities. When there is voice and intelligence, things improve. And if you add feeling (call it spirit, soul or heart) you get a product designed to stay, to transcend. This is the case that today Joyce DiDonato exemplifies without a doubt. The mezzo from Kansas shows that it is not enough to be in possession of an exceptional voice, what she does, she does with soul and thought, and not because she needs to compensate for a premature decline in vocal faculties but, on the contrary, she is at her best.

And she has the generosity to take advantage of this artistic zenith to treat herself to a performance that takes courage and commitment to her peers. From the first moment, one can tell it’s an obligation she owes to herself. This woman knows what she does and how to do it; and she does it like a goddess. We should be grateful to her for being a shining beacon in this ocean of banality, cheesiness and vanity in which much of the world, including the lyrical universe, is enveloped, even if it is a little light, however small it may be.

So she resorts to baroque music, her specialty, to put together a recital that she turns into a declaration of humanity. It includes frills but also essence, there are embellishments but also substance. An intelligent, exemplary and necessary recital. In two parts, In War & Peace deals first with war and in the second part, with peace, opposites incarnated in passionate women and war queens for a program that cleverly combines known arias with rarities executed with impeccable technique and the proverbial mezzo fieriness. It also exemplifies the relevance of opera, lest we be deceived, a genre of high political and social commitment. From Scenes of horror by Handel that opened the evening recorded at Barcelona’s Liceu, to the Dido’s Lament by Purcell and Laschia ch’io pianga from Rinaldo that concludes the first part, her delivery is masterful. A necessary quota of hopeful lyricism comes as a relief in the second part, of which Augelletti che cantate from Rinaldo and Par che di giubilo by Niccolo Jommelli were the best moments. As an encore, a sublime Morgen by Richard Strauss is a sweet farewell balm. In this glorious era of lyrical mezzos, if DiDonato doesn’t sing with Cecilia Bartoli’s velvet, the exquisiteness of Anne Sofie von Otter or the superhuman dimension of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, her singing is earthier, meatier, more vibrant, more human and in this specific case, more effective.

Conducted by Ralf Pleger, it is a visually extravagant show in the Baroque style, a wonderful pasticcio, with costumes by Vivienne Westwood that capture the intention of the artist. Everything is calculated by the millimeter, each element manages to be a symbol, lights, make-up, projections, even the dance by Manuel Palazzo, remarkably executed although at times the most obvious part of the show. The musicians of Il Pomo d’Oro, under the baton of Maxim Emelyanychev, accompany her gleefully, resulting in a general harmony that emanates and shapes the fundamental proposition: harmony through music, using it to make sense of the sea of nonsense. From an initial chaos that manages to disturb the last luminous peace, the evening progresses through stupor, mourning, acceptance and rebirth; elements always understood as an option and not as an obligation, according to her account in the juicy extra about the genesis of the project.

Subtle but without ulterior motives, showing admirable balance, Joyce DiDonato assumes her commitment as an artist and as a person from a place that does not allow for timidity, it is her sincerity and fervor that drives reflection in the audience. Her proposal of reconciliation through music would seemed to bear witness to the quote by Hannah Arendt “That even in the darkest of times we have the right to expect some illumination, and that such illumination might well come less from theories and concepts than from the uncertain, flickering, and often weak light that some men and women”. In the middle of the chaos, DiDonato finds that light, irradiates it and, moreover, plays for it. Brava.

The New Herald

Spanish:

Joyce DiDonato, canto que es más que canto

No es un secreto que en un gran cantante la voz no es todo. Tenerla es un privilegio absoluto que implica responsabilidades. Cuando hay voz e inteligencia, las cosas mejoran. Y si se suma sentimiento (llámese espíritu, alma o corazón) se obtiene un producto destinado a permanecer, a trascender. Caso que hoy Joyce DiDonato ejemplifica sin lugar a dudas. La mezzo de Kansas demuestra que no basta ser dueña de una voz excepcional, a lo que hace le pone alma y cerebro, y no precisamente porque necesite compensar un prematuro declive en facultades vocales sino que al revés, está en su mejor momento.

Y tiene la generosidad de aprovechar este cenit artístico para darse un gusto personal que conlleva valentía y compromiso con sus semejantes. Desde el vamos se advierte que es una obligación para si misma. Esta mujer sabe lo que hace, cómo lo hace y además, lo hace como los dioses. Debe agradecérsele que en este océano de banalidad, cursilería y vanidad en el que se sume gran parte del mundo incluido el universo lírico, alguien se decida a ser faro, aunque sea una luz mínima, por pequeña que sea.

Así acude al barroco, su especialidad, para armar un recital al que convierte en un espectáculo que es declaración de humanidad. Aquí hay adornos pero también esencia, hay embellecimientos pero también substancia. Un recital inteligente, ejemplar y necesario. En dos partes, In War & Peace se ocupa en la primera de la guerra y en la segunda de la paz, opuestos encarnados en mujeres apasionadas y reinas guerreras para un programa que hábilmente combina arias conocidas con rarezas ejecutadas con la técnica impecable y fogosidad proverbial de la mezzo. Asimismo, remite a la vigencia de la ópera, a no engañarse, un género de alto compromiso político y social. Desde el Escenas de horror de Handel que abre la velada registrada en el Liceo barcelonés al lamento de Dido de Purcell y el Laschia ch’io pianga de Rinaldo que concluye la primera, su desempeño es magistral. Una necesaria cuota de esperanzado lirismo llega como alivio en la segunda siendo su mejor momento Augelletti che cantate de Rinaldo y Par che di giubilo del napolitano Niccolo Jommelli. Como bis, un sublime Morgen de Richard Strauss es dulce bálsamo de despedida. En esta gloriosa era de mezzos líricas, si DiDonato no es el terciopelo de Cecilia Bartoli, la exquisitez de Anne Sofie von Otter o la sobrehumana dimensión de Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, su canto es más terreno, más carnoso, más vibrante, más humano y en este preciso caso, más efectivo.

Dirigido por Ralf Pleger es un espectáculo visualmente extravagante a la manera barroca, un afortunado pasticcio, con vestuario acorde de Vivienne Westwood que capta la intención de la artista. Todo está milimétricamente calculado, cada elemento logra ser un símbolo, luces, maquillaje, proyecciones, incluso la danza a cargo de Manuel Palazzo de notable ejecución aunque por momentos lo mas obvio del show. Los músicos de Il Pomo D’Oro bajo Maxim Emelyanychev la acompañan encantados resultando en una armonía general que emana y plasma la propuesta fundamental: armonía a través de la música, usarla para dar sentido al mar de sin sentido. De un caos inicial que logra inquietar a la luminosa paz última se pasa por el estupor, el duelo, la aceptación y renacimiento; elementos siempre entendidos como opción y no como obligación, según ella cuenta en el jugoso extra sobre la génesis del proyecto.

Sutil pero sin segundas intenciones, haciendo gala de admirable balance, Joyce DiDonato asume su compromiso como artista y como persona desde un lugar que no admite reparos, es su sinceridad y fervor lo que impulsa la reflexión en el público. Su propuesta de reconciliación a través de la música parecería testimoniar la frase de Hannah Arendt “Que incluso en los tiempos más oscuros tenemos el derecho de esperar cierta iluminación, y que esta iluminación puede llegarnos menos de teorías y conceptos que de la luz que irradian algunos hombres y mujeres“. En medio del caos, DiDonato encuentra esa luz, la irradia y además, se juega por ella. Brava.

El Nuevo Herald

5 Dec

5 Dec

5 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