Opera Reviews

“Joyce DiDonato’s performance as Donizetti’s Mary Queen of Scots leaves one bereft of adequate superlatives . . . bel canto of this quality has not been heard at Covent Garden for more than a generation and that on the strength of this night alone, her name should rank in the operatic pantheon alongside the greatest legends of the past.”

– Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph

Berlioz’ ‘Les Troyens’ in Strasbourg

“With Didon, Joyce DiDonato continues the exploration of the great roles of the French repertoire recently initiated with Charlotte in Werther … Faced with this recent challenge, the singer finds unknown expressive resources, using changes of timbre to express the horrors in which the Queen of Carthage struggled. The abandoned woman then converses with the outraged queen in a scene of epic grandeur …”

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Joyce DiDonato is “regal” and “riveting” in role debut as Semiramide

“On February 12, at the first evening of its new Semiramide production in the Nationaltheater, Bavarian State Opera proved itself more than equal to the challenge of finding an ideal cast for a work that depends on the virtuosity of its singers for its success. Joyce DiDonato’s enormous talent is unparalleled in today’s opera world; she has the allure of a true diva without the baggage associated with that word. Her regal bearing spoke volumes, her emotional involvement in the title role was riveting and her brilliant coloratura took one’s breath away. DiDonato’s “Bel raggio lusinghier” brought down the house in Act I, and she amazed and stupefied her audience throughout the entire evening.”

Jeffrey A. Leipsic – Opera News

 

“Her interpretation was extremely dramatic and intense. Hers is a troubled, broken queen, whose old crime (her husband’s murder) has marked her whole existence. She hopes against all odds to find happiness by marrying the young warrior Arsace, only to be hurled into the middle of a Freudian nightmare (Arsace turns out to be her son). Her vocal performance was brilliant, marked by a wonderful legato and sparkling coloratura – every asset of a true bel canto artist.”

Bachtrack

Making Babylon great again: DiDonato shines in musically spectacular Semiramide in Munich

Bachtrack
by Laura Servidei

“Joyce DiDonato is making her role debut as Semiramide in this production. It was written for Isabella Colbran, an alto with great extension, but has been hijacked by coloratura sopranos since the Rossini Renaissance. Today, it sounds strange to hear a mezzo singing it. Her interpretation was extremely dramatic and intense. Hers is a troubled, broken queen, whose old crime (her husband’s murder) has marked her whole existence. She hopes against all odds to find happiness by marrying the young warrior Arsace, only to be hurled into the middle of a Freudian nightmare (Arsace turns out to be her son). Her vocal performance was brilliant, marked by a wonderful legato and sparkling coloratura – every asset of a true bel canto artist … her performance was astounding.”

Joyce DiDonato is “outstanding” in role debut as Semiramide at the Bayerische Staatsoper

“Joyce DiDonato is outstanding as Semiramide: her sound can be soft and melting, she sings angrily to her adversaries along the wall and while suffering is barely audible in her pianissimo. A great achievement.”

{Überragend Joyce DiDonato als Semiramide: Weich und schmelzend kann sie klingen, ihre Widersacher wütend an die Wand singen und kaum hörbar im pianissimo leiden. Eine großartige Leistung.}

Bernhard Neuhoff – BR-Klassik

Critical acclaim for Joyce DiDonato’s stage debut as Charlotte in Royal Opera House production of ‘Werther’

“It’s emphatically a romance, albeit a tragic one, complete with solo strings that echo and double the on-stage nearly-but-not-quite-lovers. But in DiDonato and Grigolo’s hands it’s something much darker.

DiDonato’s Charlotte was always going to be fascinating. How would a singer of such energy, such an active force on stage, tackle a character whose defining characteristic is not doing – not kissing Werther (until too later), not defying her mother’s wishes, not allowing herself to feel or act on her desires?

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Joyce sings a “passionate and vigorous” Romeo in ‘I Capuleti e i Montecchi’ at the Gran Teatre del Liceu

“. . . remarkable in every way. The North American mezzo-soprano, winner of the Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Soloist in 2016 and 2012, excels in the role of Romeo. She perfectly masters the lowest notes of the score, which normally are not part of the register. She enchants us with her beautiful legato and vocal power. Perfectly at home on the musical and scenic stage, she fully invests in the interpretation of the character given by the director.”

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‘I Capuleti e i Montecchi’ in concert with the Deutsche Oper Berlin

“Bellini uses all the registers throughout the vocal instrument – and suddenly it is no longer enough just to be a good singer. Musicians are required to not only deliver what is written in the score. Because so much is reserved in concert performances: The important thing is not to remain still in it, especially in the bel canto. So can it be understood that the temperature on stage changes abruptly as Joyce DiDonato enters. The sound seems to penetrate all of her heart, like every fiber of her body is focused and embracing – which harkens directly to the mystery of this music. Given this uncontrollable desire to break from the beautiful mediocrity, to know all the conventions and not to allow the performance to approach that. All others pale in comparison to her Romeo …”

{Bellini formt die Stimme ganz zum Instrument – und plötzlich reicht es nicht mehr aus, ein guter Sänger zu sein. Musiker sind gefordert, die nicht nur abliefern, was in den Noten steht. Denn so gerne die bei konzertanten Aufführungen umklammert werden: Das Wichtigste ist darin nicht zu finden, vor allem im Belcanto. So ist es zu erklären, dass sich die Temperatur auf der Bühne schlagartig ändert, als Joyce DiDonato sie betritt. Wie der Klang ganz aus ihrem Innern zu dringen scheint, wie jede Faser ihres Körpers ihn formt und fokussiert – das dringt unmittelbar zum Geheimnis dieser Musik. Dazu diese unbändige Lust, aus dem schönen Mittelmaß zu brechen, alle Konventionen zu kennen und nicht davon lassen zu können, sie zu überschreiten. Ihr Romeo lässt alle anderen blass aussehen …}

Ulrich Amling – Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten

‘La Donna del Lago’ at The Met – “a complete vocal and dramatic achievement”

Returning to the role of Elena, the Highland maiden of the title, Joyce DiDonato is an absolute marvel. She came on strong from the very beginning, her voice in her entrance aria, “O mattutini albori,” unrolling like a bolt of silk. to hear her now is to hear a great voice in its prime: an easy, honeyed tone, ample volume, accurate pitch, a quick coloratura. Everything simply works for her, and on the foundation of that security she builds a sublime musical interpretation. 

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GREAT SCOTT! Dallas Opera breaks in baddest Heggie work yet

“This shit is hard!” quips lead mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato in a coy aside to the audience during new American opera Great Scott, now in its premiere engagement at The Dallas Opera through November 15. Seem out of place for opera? It’s a perfectly reasonable comment for the contemporary, hip tone of this dynamic, engaging new work by Jake Heggie and Terence McNally that blends opera settings with American football. The slang oozes irony coming from DiDonato, who makes everything she sings throughout the work seem pre-eminently easy-peesy, no matter the degree or scale of difficulty of execution. The show opens with a rehearsal of a “re-discovered” traditional work by fabricated composer Vittorio Bazzetti, “Rosa Dolorosa”, where DiDonato plays a slave girl who ultimately strives to save Pompeii by melodramatically descending via flying harness into the fiery maw of erupting volcano Vesuvius in a hyperbolic, and amazingly lyrical, final “operatic” gesture. DiDonato as diva star Arden Scott enters casually in Act One, strolling on stage through the rehearsing chorus with anxious stage manager hovering, in time to rehearse her first aria downstage center, kneeling beside the rehearsal piano. So simple, so unpretentious. Hard to imagine how anyone in attendance could avoid being blown back immediately and hard in his or her Winspear seat, given the soaring beauty of the music that emerges and DiDonato’s quintessential, exquisite mastery of her first jaw-dropping aria.

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

~ Joyce DiDonato