““The Hours” is still worth seeing for its formidable cast—above all, for Joyce DiDonato. The increasingly incomparable mezzo-soprano delivers an astonishing physical impersonation of Woolf, her body language hunched, flinching, but determined; several times, I had to remind myself who was onstage. DiDonato was last seen at the Met in the glittering, devious title role of Handel’s “Agrippina.” In “The Hours,” she adopts a drastically different vocal persona, unleashing foghorn tones in her lower range and searchlight timbres up top. Most importantly, she finds passion and wit in a character who, in Nicole Kidman’s portrayal, came across as relentlessly dour.”
“…the mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, sounding as confident and fresh, as sonorous and subtle, as she ever has in this theater.
But it is hard to focus on anyone else when DiDonato is onstage, often standing magnetically still. Her voice is clear in fast conversation, as she darkly relishes the words. Then, as the lines slow and expand, her tone grows smoky yet grounded, mellow yet potent. She plays Virginia as solemn and severe, but with a dry wit… she gives a generous, noble portrayal, at its peak in her crushing delivery of lines from Woolf’s suicide note.”
The New York Times
“DiDonato, an exceptional talent both as singer and actor, has the difficult tasks, first, of rendering the process of thinking through writing and, then, of conveying the psyche of a woman who cannot trust her thoughts when not writing. DiDonato grabs onto the part with both hands, conveying Woolf’s frustrations at being interrupted in her work as the anger of a woman who risks getting the bends every time she returns to reality.”
“And that brings us to Joyce DiDonato, who was the undisputed star of the night, as Virginia Woolf… From her opening and highly exposed monologue, accompanied only by piano, DiDonato’s voice had a roundness that I hadn’t heard before, a freedom that allowed her to sculpt long lines with unparalleled warmth and elegance… That opening monologue might have been the first instance in the opera where I felt that Puts’ vocal writing had taken flight. Virtually every scene with Virginia features this kind of beautiful vocal writing, allowing DiDonato’s rich mezzo to take flight.
But Virginia wasn’t just about soaring vocal lines. In between, DiDonato delivered some incredible comic and dramatic moments. When asked to have breakfast by her husband and put something in her stomach, few people could respond with the intensity and sarcasm that DiDonato managed as she noted that she had some coffee and almonds in her stomach. Or when Nelly offers to serve her more food later in the work, she was menacing as she shut her down and demanded that they stop trying to force-feed her. Even in more contentious encounters where her husband Leonard, DiDonato’s mezzo shifted from more aggressive and leaner to slenderer and more tender. Another standout interaction was with her niece and nephews as she cuddles them, her singing sprightly before her mind and singing shifted into a darker mode as she pronounced the death of Septimus, all while menacingly pointing at her nephew.
And in the final trio, where the three artists managed some beautiful lyrical moments together, it was DiDonato’s grounded sound that gave the passage its depth and warmth.”
“DiDonato had the evening’s triumph, as Woolf, capturing the audience from the moment she came on stage, struggling with the creation of her novel, “Mrs. Dalloway,” which ties the three leads together. Whether dealing with her own shifting moods and relationships… she was engulfed by the character but never feeling less than natural in it.”
“DiDonato gave Woolf a sharp sense of authority-meets-otherness.”
The Daily Beast
“The strongest of the three star singers here, DiDonato achieves the greatest poignancy in Woolf’s descent into despair.”
“DiDonato was just as fine, and again her part seemed to sit in the most comfortable range for her. The role called for a grounded, forceful sense of emotional gravity and turmoil, and she delivered the feeling that every word had weight and meaning. ”
New York Classical Review
“DiDonato sang like DiDonato—solid, grounded.”
“Joyce DiDonato is outstanding as Virginia Woolf”