‘La Mort de Cléopâtre’ with Riccardo Muti & the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

“Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato made a compelling case for a lyric scene from Berlioz’s “The Death of Cleopatra,” thanks to the vividness of her imagination and her instrument’s tonal and expressive range. From the throaty low notes she produced at the beginning to the more stratospheric pitches that followed, she was in splendid voice. She also brought forth the dramatic meaning and subtext of this music, especially in the Meditation, as Cleopatra contemplates her imminent demise. DiDonato’s turbulent shifts from fortissimo to pianissimo and the chilling, other worldly, utterly vibratoless high notes she offered at the end pointed to a singer whose remarkable instrument is governed by an equally agile intellect.”

Chicago Tribune

“The celebrated mezzo-soprano, Joyce DiDonato, made her belated Chicago Symphony debut in 2016, and this work, which has not been heard in Orchestra Hall since 1995, provided the perfect vehicle for her return. She remains at the peak of her powers, with more than enough vocal force to reach the farthest seats in Orchestra Hall as well as pinpoint intonation, spotless technique and, most important, piercing expressive intensity.

DiDonato presented not just a vocal performance but a biting dramatic portrayal, conveying the power and grandeur of this once-mighty ruler as well as the pain and ignominy of her defeat at the Battle of Actium. Muti and the orchestra were with her every step of the way, supporting and accentuating the work’s often brooding, dark emotions. The climax came at the end as DiDonato delivered Cleopatra’s final stanzas with a befittingly halting, hollow quality, tellingly conveying the sense of the ruler taking her final breaths – the last words uttered as little more than a labored whisper.”

Chicago Sun Times

“After the intermission, the fireworks began. Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato served as the soloist for “The Death of Cleopatra” by Berlioz, and the results were spectacular. DiDonato’s dark oak sound was burnished and highly persuasive. She was convincing not only as a woman in anguish but also as one losing the power and riches that have surrounded her life.

The music’s power was unleashed with care, as both DiDonato and Muti scorned easy drama, preferring a subtle and nuanced approach. The mezzo’s thoughtful interpretation was always fully supported by the orchestra, who contributed fluid playing and a safe cushion of sound. By the end, the pain of Cleopatra was palpable and the final lines (in English, “Cleopatra, by her death,/Again becomes worthy of Caesar!”) were not only the sign of her death, but a clear declaration that she was ready for her own demise. It was a powerful performance.”

Hyde Park Herald

11 Jun

Who needs espresso? Or to understand the wonder of life? Apparently I only need this....! https://t.co/F56DafpiH7

11 Jun

Indeed. https://t.co/p8G1st1OSG

9 Jun

Cry. You can reapply the concealer .... tears are cleansing and sometimes called for ... 😔 https://t.co/fd9hDX0OgS

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#SummerLovin #LovinLavender #LavenderLovin

I arrive (nearly) to the end of this very full season, and it’s good moment to remind each of you reading this that YOU are the reason I travel the world, away from home for months at a time, working towards an unattainable perfection, exposed in ways very few people can imagine, singing the stories of characters searching for enlightenment/redemption/hope/relief/joy, and why I dedicate a large part of my life to this century’s old art form. I do it to entertain you at a minimum, but mostly to offer you comfort, to help us all join in a communal “event” that connects us across time and space despite our perceived differences, and I do it because I truly believe it makes the world a better place. I know you feel this most of the time as well. It’s likely what keeps bringing you back! I hope that after this season, perhaps you feel a bit more inspired to take what you receive as an audience member and activate that sensation in your own life, to bring hope and joy to the world around you. Don’t ever underestimate your power to do that - one doesn’t need the spotlight to bring transformation. #Songplay #Winterreise #Agrippina #Didon ✨

If this girl can do it, you can too!!!!!!! #belikeanant #heavyload #yourenevergivenanythingyoucanthandle #antsruletheworld #summerlovin

Grazie Mille @accademiadisantacecilia and the @baciopanino boys. What a JOY it was to perform with you all. Until the next time!

Celebrating #WorldOceansDay ... hoping every single one of you has the chance to swim in the vast blue ocean one day. Growing up in Kansas, I didn’t have the chance until I was in my 30’s, but when I finally did, an entire new universe opened right underneath me and I was changed. I’m so grateful for all that the planet’s oceans give to us. I want to be sure I’m doing all I can as a citizen of the world to take care of them and their vast, life-giving properties. Let’s get more informed and more active in protecting them and helping them thrive.

I was not prepared. The inspiration is through the roof to bring to life the towering cantata of #JoanOfArc tonight in the very cathedral de St. Denis, where she prayed for strength centuries and centuries ago. The same stones that received her pleas tonight will hear them again filtered through the mind of Rossini and the vibrations of those of us on stage. This, perhaps, is the thing I love most about the world of music - it connects us directly through time and space, and it shows us demonstrably how we are one. Ask me how much I love my “job”! @festivalsaintdenis @accademiadisantacecilia

#HowToFlower . . . What’s beautiful around you right now?

Grazie Mille, Roma. What a gift to be here for the briefest of moments - how much life we can find in the now!!!! #LightShower #Pantheon #Mystical #Luz #Luz #Luz #NoFilter #LookAround #Stopqndbreathe #batheinthelight #recoup #regenerate #batheingratitude #boydidtheromansknowhowtobuildabuilding #agrippinawashere #perfection #ladolcevita

And behind the scenes with Maestro Pappano and his @accademiadisantacecilia: a glimpse into the PROCESS which I love so much as we create our journey to prepare for the magic of the audience’s arrival. Thank you all for making our hard work so worthwhile!

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

~ Joyce DiDonato