So when did you last shout “bravissima”? For me, I had to think way back to Birgit’s return to the Met in Elektra. Or Joan in the all-star Puritani. Well, my drought has been broken with Joyce DiDonato’s breath-taking performance in Paris Opera’s La Donna del Lago.

Photography: © Philippe Talbot

When last I experienced this tremendous artist, it was in the delightfulCenerentola in Barcelona. I never dreamed she could exceed the heat she generated on stage that day. I was wrong. For with her consummately realized Elena in La Donna del Lago we are privileged to experience that rare perfect marriage of role and artist. This day there was nothing her voice could not do, and she (and Rossini) asked it to do a great deal.Perfectly realized coloratura one moment, melting legato the next, heady leaps to the heights and spot-on plunges to the depths, fizzy fioritura, and plangent despair – Elena la, Elena qua – Ms. DiDonato makes short work of any such challenges as if she were born with this role in her throat.

The great final set piece Tanti Affeti was such stuff as legends are made of, with our diva not so much singing the aria as inhabiting it. The inevitability of every phrase, the quick-silver contrasts of emotion, the flawless musical instincts backed by one of the best techniques in the world held us utterly mesmerized. Indeed, at one momentary rest I became aware that no one seemed to be breathing. Although we were poised in our seats, mouths agape at the pyrotechnical display, no air was moving in or out lest the perfection of the moment be marred.Only the greatest artists giving the greatest performances can inspire that reaction holding an audience rapt, and Joyce DiDonato must certainly be numbered among them. Her aria effortlessly dispatched, all that was left was for us to roar our approval with such ferocity and persistence that it threatened to bring the plaster down upon our heads. Bravissima, Joyce. Oh hell,Bravississima.

– Opera Today, July, 2010

Joyce DiDonato manages to keep a straight face throughout as grand chandeliers descend at key moments and a harp rises from the floor to signal the Bards’ chorus. Her Elena is simply the best singing I’ve heard in years, the final rondo a model of vocal security and varied colour.

– Francis Carlin, Financial Times, June, 2010

Heading the cast triumphantly is Joyce DiDonato as Elena. Like the other singers, she makes short work of Rossini’s formidable roulades, singing with a mezzo-soprano that is a glory to behold. The famous aria-finale “Tanto affetti in tal momento” is stunning, but no less arresting than the vocal pyrotechnics is her heartfelt singing of the aria’s initial lyrical section, in which she thankfully reacts to the turn of events that unite her with Malcolm and expresses special gratitude to the magnanimous king.

– George Loomis, NY Times, June, 2010

Joyce DiDonato, la Dame du chant
Anesthésiée par une mise en scène lourdaude, la “Dame du Lac” de Rossini est sauvée du naufrage par la magnifique mezzo-soprano américaine dans le rôle-titre.

Seule, Joyce DiDonato allie tous les atouts de la technique et de la poésie. Sa tessiture infinie – le rôle fut écrit en 1819 par Rossini pour Isabella Colbran, sa muse et bientôt sa chère épouse –, son timbre clair mais onctueux, la gamme de nuances qu’elle parcourt en véritable plasticienne du son,sa virtuosité de rossignol et son sens dramatique procurent un ravissement de tous les instants.

Dans l’acte III, Joyce DiDonato charme, attendrit et bouleverse tandis que la partition se déploie, évoquant ici le boisé des textures et la grâce des mélodies de Mozart, annonçant là l’urgence des grands ensembles verdiens. Avant d’emporter la salle, conquise, dans un feu d’artifice final, brillant et fastueux, où triomphe la mezzo-soprano américaine.

– Emmanuelle Giuliani, La Croix, July, 2010

Dans le rôle-titre, l’éblouissante Joyce DiDonato s’affirme comme une véritable héritière de la légendaire Isabella Colbran, la première Elena qui devint l’épouse légitime de Rossini trois ans plus tard.

Mieux que les illustres sopranos – de Montserrat Caballe à June Anderson – qui ont abordé le rôle depuis quatre décennies, Joyce DiDonato réunit toutes les qualités d’une Elena idéale. L’aigu n’a rien à leur envier, mais la richesse de la voix s’étend aussi dans le bas-médium, conférant à son interprétation virtuose une sensualité unique. Simplement magique, le célébrissime rondo final est une magistrale leçon de vrai bel canto expressif. Une cantatrice désormais au sommet de son art.

– Monique Barichella, Altamusica, July, 2010