Joyce DiDonato performs the French premiere of Jake Heggie’s song cycle Camille Claudel: Into The Fire on February 23 at Maison de la Radio et de la Musique in Paris. Written especially for DiDonato, she describes Heggie’s song cycle as “one of most moving projects I’ve ever been part of.” For the French premiere, Ms. DiDonato will be accompanied by the Orchestre National de France under the baton of Pierre Bleuse. The concert will be broadcast live via France Musique.

Ms. DiDonato recorded this song cycle, based on the life and work of the French sculptor Camille Claudel, at Wigmore Hall with the Brentano Quartet in 2018 (More information and purchase links available here). Stereophile commended her performance, saying:

“DiDonato immediately establishes her mastery by voicing Claudel’s opening line, “Last night, I went to sleep completely naked,” with a perfectly sweet, extended pianissimo. When her utterances become more dramatic, her tone is convincing, her commitment total. As Claudel sings on the night before she is taken away, DiDonato conveys her fear, powerlessness, and mounting paranoia. Years later, in 1929, when Jessie Lipscomb, who had shared a Paris studio with Claudel, visits her and snaps a historic photo of her friend, DiDonato sings, “Thank you for coming” with heartbreaking sweetness. Her surety and timing are unforgettable as she sings, unaccompanied, “A photograph? Just me and you. Yes. I understand. I must be very still.” Equally striking is how she holds the last note of the last line, “Thank you for remembering . . . me,” until it fades into nothingness.”

Check out this interview with Ms. DiDonato on the story of Camille Claudel:

Photo by Chris Singer