“Among the many sparkling facets of Joyce DiDonato’s artistry, her singing of Mozart repertoire perhaps does not receive the attention that her performances of Baroque, bel canto, and contemporary music justifiably garner. This is an inexplicable injustice, as her depiction of Sesto in this recording of La clemenza di Tito is a performance of the sort of psychological depth and technical confidence that only a truly great singer can muster.
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.
“Hector Berlioz’ epic Les Troyens: It’s daunting, it’s not particularly catchy, and it makes Götterdämmerung seem to go by in a breeze. It’s also a grand opera, perhaps even a great opera. Even so, it remains one of the more wonderful miracles of the classical music industry that a recording of this opera, of all works, should have made a record label… Now, 17 years after that last recording (not counting filmed versions, which have begun to outnumber pure sound recordings), Warner/Erato has issued John Nelson’s performance from Strasbourg with a modern-day almost-dream cast headed by Joyce DiDonato’s Dido. The result is controversial; I love it.
This recording topped my Meta-List of “Best Classical Recordings of 2017”that I compiled from a selection of such lists and is, in that sense, the most-saluted recording of last year …
On this recording you have the svelte and radiant voice of Joyce DiDonato’s as Didon … I’d like to think that for the amount of greater enjoyment I get from this interpretation over previous ones – up to the limit that my general skepticism towards the genre imposes on me – a modern listener inherently liking the genre will possibly also gain as much a greater enjoyment, if not more. And even if that weren’t the case, well… at least we’d have the ideal recording for those of us who might never love that type of thing but like it enough to expose themselves repeatedly. Either way: A worthy contribution to the small Trojan discography…”
Semiramide: Royal Opera House
Grand opera in grand style, with the grandest of divas, Joyce DiDonato.
There was a time when record labels regularly lavished huge budgets on complete opera recordings. Not so anymore: Declining revenues have meant less money to spend on these prestige projects. So kudos to Warner Classics’ Erato label for its recent release of Hector Berlioz’s massive “Les Troyens,” featuring a huge cast that includes Kansas City’s own Joyce DiDonato.
In the notes accompanying this spectacular CD, mezzo Joyce DiDonato asks, “In the midst of chaos, how do you find peace?” She goes for answers–and gets them–from a baritone who was a Freedom Combat Victim, as well as from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a prisoner in Sing Sing, an 8-year old refugee, Alfred Brendel, Judi Dench, and many more. DiDonato manages not to sound holier-than-thou in this introduction, and a discussion of Baroque opera and how it tended to be a battlefield between good and evil follows. Examples are “When I am laid in earth” for the grief of war, and Cleopatra’s “Da tempeste…” showing the Queen exulting in the possibility of peace …
Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato was inspired by the 2015 Paris attacks to record this album of Baroque opera arias on the subject of war and peace. DiDonato told us she wanted to “bring an album into the world that reminds us of the best of humanity. Nobody represents this better in music better than Purcell and Handel… From the internal chaos of Agrippina to the deep sense of loss of Dido”.
“The Conference of the Birds” is a delicious naturalistic work composed by Jonathan Sheffer and narrated by the renowned American soprano Joyce DiDonato) . . . The Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the composer and recorded on June 2015, in the Reduta Hall in Olomouc (a theater in 1770) of the Czech Republic, is a very original work, a beautiful story narrated by the great American soprano Joyce DiDonato.
“Joyce and Tony” they may be to Erato. To the rest of us they are mezzo Joyce DiDonato and Antonio Pappano, the Royal Opera’s music director, moonlighting here as accompanist.
Their recital at Wigmore Hall a year ago was hugely enjoyable. In this live recording it sounds even better. Was DiDonato really so gripping in Haydn’s Arianna a Naxos, so lambently beautiful of tone in rare songs by Francesco Santoliquido?
Did the two of them seduce the audience so ravishingly in their all-American hits by Jerome Kern and others? What a sublime encore to hear it all again.”
Richard Fairman – Financial Times