‘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

15 hours ago

Ready for the wicked....!!!!!! https://t.co/y5Op9N3JdS

15 hours ago

Thank you so much, James! https://t.co/zOhrUiIZ8F

16 Aug

On now....!!!! The future is BRIGHT!!! https://t.co/NqwqBCCxWe

FOLLOW Joyce DiDonato

LIVE from the @elbphilharmonie on @medici.tv!!! 🔗link in bio. Please join me, Maestro #antoniopappano and the extraordinary, life-affirming #NYOUSA orchestra for the conclusion of our incredibly memorable tour! (Or If you’re in Hamburg, head down to the hall to watch live on the open-air screen for free!) I promise, you will feel uplifted, inspired, and full of hope by watching these extraordinary young musicians!!! • • “When Joyce DiDonato was singing Le spectre de la rose from Berlioz’s Les nuits d’été — her voice so tender, so poignant, so full of meaning — it really was hard to imagine anything more perfect. [...] DiDonato made it human and transcendent.” - The Times • • 📷 @chrisleephotonyc @carnegiehall #berlioz #lesnuitsdete #joycedidonato #musiciansofinstagram #instaclassical #livestream #musicislife #tourlife

My heart...thank you, @bbc_proms and all the gorgeous #Prommers and the gorgeous @royalalberthall and you gorgeous #London audiences! I was very proud today to stand alongside the incredible musicians of the #nyousa orchestra bringing #Berlioz to life. Such a beautiful souvenir!!!

Can’t think of a more gorgeous way to wake up on this Sunny London Morning than to join the divine #NYOUSA in Berlioz’s *sublime* Les nuits d’été, LIVE at the @bbc_proms. You can join us LIVE to listen on @bbcradio3! It is a complete joy to share the stage with these incredible musicians. Photo: the divine @chrisleephotonyc

Y’all know this is going to be epic, right?!?! @jbartonmezzo is coming to town to rock the #Proms!!!!!!!! #epic #mezzosrock #dichteuyoubetterholla

Hey #NYOUSA!! Flying to you!! Can’t wait to meet you all and share an amazing experience together at the @edintfest!!!

Couldn’t have asked for a better, more old-fashioned road trip vacation than this ... Seattle-to-LA, baby! Gratefully reminded, once again, of how much beauty exists in staggering abundance all around us, should we dare to look up and bear witness to it. #lookup #summerlovin #roadtrip #youneverfullyrealizewhatyouhaveuntilitsgone #1136miles #bliss #shameonmeforbeingaformerpickupsnob #divasapparentlydrivepickupsnow #whaaaaaaa??? 😎

Do you see anything beautiful around you in this moment...??? #summerlovin #lookaround #futuressobrightigottawearshades #breathe #connect #turnoffthenews #racismisrotten #raiseyourvoice

What questions do you ask when you look upwards....?? #summerlovin #cloudlovin #contemplationbaby #lookup

Can’t stop looking up! #ombramaifu #summerlovin #branchingout #treesglorioustrees #inspired

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

~ Joyce DiDonato