Recording Reviews

Classical CD of the Month: Les Troyens From Strasbourg With Joyce DiDonato

Forbes
by Jens F. Laurson
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“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…”

“Best of 2017” Highlights

The Guardian – 10 Best Performances

Semiramide: Royal Opera House
Grand opera in grand style, with the grandest of divas, Joyce DiDonato.

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These classical recordings put unforgettable music at your fingertips

The Kansas City Star
by Patrick Neas
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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.

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DiDonato Scores Again–A Perfect, Timely Recital

Classics Today
by Robert Levine
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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 …

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Classic FM’s 20 best classical albums of the year – “In War & Peace”

ClassicFM

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”.

Sonograma reviews “The Conference of the Birds”

Sonograma
by Marçal Borotau
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“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.

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Joyce & Tony: Live at Wigmore Hall

“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

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Jeunehomme

The centrepiece of this exhilarating disc, themed loosely around music by Haydn and Mozart written between 1777 and 1786, is the latter’s Piano Concerto No 9 in E flat K271, known as the “Jeunehomme”, a play on the name of the original pianist, Victoire Jenamy, for whom it was written. The song-like quality of the slow movement prompted Alexandre Tharaud to programme the concert aria Ch’io mi scordi di te? alongside it, gratefully and gracefully sung by Joyce DiDonato.

– The Guardian

Stella di Napoli

To be a top classical singer you have to have a lot.  But Joyce DiDonato is different: she’s got it all.  Fantastic voice, striking looks, a rigorous work ethic, a respect for her audience, and a desire to smother them with love.

Vocally she’s the best mezzo currently active.  She has a terrific stage presence, with impeccable dress sense.  She takes as much trouble over her appearance as she does over her singing – and quite right too.  She works and works and works not just to keep her voicein good shape but to learn fresh stuff.

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In the midst of #chaos, how do you find #peace? #inwarandpeace #talkpeace #dopeace #bepeace @ilpdo

Bon Dia, World!!! Back on tour from today with #inwarandpeace, ready to pick up our quest for harmony!! @fcgulbenkian @ilpdo #vivaportugal #TalkPeace #DoPeace #BePeace

What glorious human beings. It was he privilege of a lifetime to honor this amazing woman, Frederica Von Stade, recognizing the priceless contributions she makes to her community and to the world last night in San Francisco. Of course, it couldn’t have happened without the tireless and ever-inspiring Jake Heggie. I floated out of there convinced the love in that room (and the amazing young talent) can save the world!!! #ibelieve #musicismagic #SANFRANSISCOCOMMUNITYMUSICCENTER

What an unforgettable experience, bringing Massenet’s storybook opera #Cendrillon to the stage of the @metopera for the first time in its storied history. It has been a dream to sing about love while surrounded by so much of it - from the cast and crew, to the @metoperachorus, @metorchestra, to YOU the audience, who laughed and cried with us all. I’ll never tire of this story, a wonderful balm for the world. A billion thanks to everyone involved, most especially my #PrinceCharming, @alice.coote! #OperaIsMagic #happilyeverafter #firstandprobablylastmetstageselfie

#Cinderella #Red #Couture #OperaRocks #OperaFashion @metopera @metoperasupers @metoperachorus There are no words to describe the joy that has been this show. Merçi a tous!!!!!

#sisters and #fairies and #gowns, OH MY!!!!!

#howtobackstage @metopera @metoperachorus #cendrillon #thriller? #operaismagic #operaiswhack

#cinders.......time to say goodbye.....😭😭😭

What a bunch of #disruptors!! Loved being honored as one of them last night at the inspiring @nationalsawdust gala. (It also felt like #prom with the tireless and innovative @arcostanzo!) And for the record? @esperanzaspalding is #everything. So is #TerrenceMcNally - as soulful a disruptor as ever there was!!!! @elenalumahai @tomkirdahy #creation #arttransforms #shakeyourselfupfromtheinside

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

~ Joyce DiDonato