Recording Reviews

Berlioz’s Les Troyens wins Gramophone’s 2018 Recording of the Year Award

‘A peach of a recording’ is how I signed off my original review of this account of Berlioz’s Les Troyens last December – ‘a thrilling new benchmark for this epic opera’. I completely stand by that assessment today – this set from Erato is an absolute stunner. I attended the second of two concert performances in Strasbourg last year from which the recording was taken (along with a patching session). Not only was it my outstanding concert of 2017, the resulting set was easily my disc of the year too.
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La Clemenza di Tito

“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.

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The New Herald: Joyce DiDonato, singing that is more than singing

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.

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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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Well, if it’s not a “Two Widows” Reunion!!!!! @operabrandon, what a joy to share the stage with you again after tw%#*y years! And here I am again, a W2BW! (Widow To Be Wooed) Bonus points for anyone who actually attended our *historic* performances in Smetna’s underperformed opera way back in 1998 in #Chautauqua!!! #Chautauqua2Carthage #Smetna2Berlioz #HappilyEverAfter2TotalDestruction

I could not be happier or more excited that our wonderful album of Les Troyens has been named “Recording of the Year” at tonight’s Gramophone Award ceremony. Thank you to the visionary and magical music-making of John Nelson, my fabulous cast members and to @warner_classics for in believing in this project. It has been a pleasure and an extreme privilege to be a part of it. THANK YOU!!! Viva Les Troyens and viva #Berlioz.

Tune in to Great Performances | PBS to watch @metopera #Cendrillon broadcast at 12PM ET today! ✨👠👸 Photo: Paola Kudacki / Met Opera #greatperformancespbs

What a perfect, beautiful, timely moment to embrace a fairy tale: don’t miss the Metropolitan Opera's heralded production of “Cendrillon” on @PBS Great Performances! Bask in the beautiful French melodies of Massenet. Laugh at the charming staging. Marvel at the gorgeous costumes. Revel in the soaring vocal lines of our brilliant cast. I’ve spent over 20 treasured years with Cinderella, and I’d love to share this final trip to the palace with you! @metopera @alice.coote @sblythe327 @sop_kathleen_kim #laurentnaouri @metoperachorus @metorchestra #bertranddebilly #laurentpelly

Happy Friday, everyone! I wanted to start the weekend with something special that I hope you’ll enjoy! In celebration of the release of my new album “Into the fire” featuring Jake Heggie’s profound song cycle about Camille Claudel, I created this playlist featuring some of my favorite tracks of Jake’s music. 🎧 Link in bio. He is not only a dear friend, he also captures human emotions so beautifully in this writing and I am always stunned by his sheer abundance of music ideas, languages and styles. I have been fortunate enough to sing a lot of his music throughout my career and I have so many beautiful memories of each and every one of his works I performed. I will never forget the profound impact on everyone in the cast and in the audience for each performance of “Dead Man Walking” and the wonderful humanity and insight into the life of a performer in “Great Scott”. Jake’s songs are part of almost every recital I give and I hope to be able to share how special his music is, via this playlist I created for all of you! @warner_classics @applemusic

I’m in LOVE with performing #Berlioz with @monteverdi_choir_orchestras (#ORR). Add into the mix performing at the @bbc_proms and I’m positively done. My personal recommendation is that you tune in tonight for a rousing listen on @bbcradio3!!! #colormelucky #tragicdeathxtwo #berliozrocksmyworld

Thank you #Hamburg and the stunning @elbphilharmonie for such a warm welcome last night. Congratulations on the start of another stunning season. An even warmer debt of gratitude for the stunning Orchestre Révolutionaire et Romantique and Sir John Eliot Gardiner for divine, powerful music making. Cléopâtre has never suffered such a brutal death!! Look out, #London: you’re next!! @bbc_proms

Hello from Hamburg! I am thrilled to start the 2018/19 season with two concerts conducted by the legendary Sir John Eliot Gardiner​ and his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, tonight at @elbphilharmonie Hamburg and on September 5 at the @bbc_proms in London. I will sing Didon’s death scene from Les Troyens and La mort de Cléopâtre. The next two months are all about #Berlioz for me and I could not be more excited to sing this gorgeous music. 📻 Our concert at the @royalalberthall on September 5 will also receive a live broadcast on @bbcradio3. I hope you all had a spectacular summer. I am very excited to start this new season and I look forward to seeing you at one of my performances! Photo: @chrissingerme

#shattered #glass #beautyinthebroken #geometry #viennaairport #timetofly #aspsawait @bbc_proms #hereicome #queencleo #speakingofshattered ...... 😎💋😎

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

~ Joyce DiDonato