"Fierce in War, dazzling in Peace: Joyce DiDonato at the Concertgebouw"
by Jenny Camilleri
Many opera singers are careful to maintain an air of political neutrality. Not so mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who is outspoken about causes she holds dear. Her latest project, a very personal response to the 2015 terror attacks in Paris, puts her audience through the emotional wringer, but also showers them with musical rewards.
Amsterdam was the second stop on DiDonato’s currently ongoing concert tour, which is coupled with her latest album and titled In War & Peace — Harmony through Music. Extensive preparation attested to how much this undertaking means for the singer. Each patron was handed a card with a heartfelt message from her, and an invitation to answer the question, posed in sixteen languages: “In the midst of chaos, how do you find peace?”. When the public trickled into the half-lit hall, DiDonato was already on the stage, where she remained the whole time, acting and interacting with her fellow performers. She has eloquently explained her goals for this project in the media: to find peace in a time of unfettered hate speech and violence, to rediscover hope smothered by despair. Whether her choice of music, atmospherically enhanced by lighting, video and dance, achieved this for her audience would depend on the individual, but no one could deny her impressive display of prowess and involvement. She is an artist at the zenith of her powers, wielding her technical tools with surgical skill and maximum expressive impact.
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