“DiDonato, a Merola Opera program alum, is a true Golden Age singer with a sizable voice whose wide range extends from grave lows to thrilling highs. She also has an oft-astounding gift for coloratura ornamentation, fierce intelligence, and deep emotional commitment to her music.
[…] DiDonato was magnificent. Her final death scene was so riveting that it even silenced the coughs of virtually all of the persistent, fall cold-plagued audience members.
Cabell, too, sang beautifully. Her duets with DiDonato were a special high point, their voices blending almost as magically as the fabled duo of Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne.” ~ Jason Victor Serinus San Francisco Classical Voice Sept 2012
“Run, ye lovers of fabulous voices.
Run as quickly as you can to War Memorial Opera House. That’s where mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and soprano Nicole Cabell will astonish you as Romeo and Juliet in “The Capulets and the Montagues” by Vincenzo Bellini.
Bellini festooned his opera — “I Capuleti e i Montecchi” is its official title — with melodies so transparent that emotions should just flood straight through them. This is what happened Saturday with these two singers. Their love duet, in Act I, exemplified an operatic ideal: streaming garlands of bel canto song, braiding voices in close harmony, moving like soft clouds, or pinwheels, or pirouettes. It was thrilling to hear something this difficult accomplished so easily and beautifully.
But over the long haul, as the story moved further into the shadows — toward sleeping potions and death — DiDonato dominated. She has a history with this trouser role, and is such an actor; her very presence incited the orchestra to much of its best playing. Her “Deh! Tu bell’ anima” — that grief-stricken number, in which Romeo begs Juliet’s soul to take him to heaven — was heart-meltingly delivered.” ~ Richard Scheinin Mercury News Sept 2012
“DiDonato, last heard in San Francisco in 2007 as Strauss’s Octavian, is her generation’s great exponent of pants roles, her masculine swagger and penetrating, slightly reedy voice making her a riveting figure on stage. She’s also one of the great living virtuosos in florid music; there seems to be nothing she can’t sing with utter ease and confidence. Her command and virtuosity made Romeo the most convincing character in the opera.” ~ Lisa Hirsch The Classical Review Sept 2012
Fully steeped in bel canto phrasing and decoration, DiDonato gave lessons in restraint and emotion in Romeo’s quieter music ~ a tomb scene for the ages. […] DiDonato masterfully deployed vocal color and rhythmic accent to achieve a martial effect. ~ David Shengold Gay City News November 2012
“The production that opened Saturday night at the San Francisco Opera […] offers two extraordinary vocal performances in the principal roles from soprano Nicole Cabell and mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato.
But Saturday, it was hard to remain too curmudgeonly in the face of the vocal splendors on display, in a score that seemed expressly designed to highlight the singers’ ability to sustain and shape a graceful melodic phrase. DiDonato’s gifts on that point are well established, but even so her success as Romeo was remarkable, blending tenderness and ardor in a powerful compound.” ~ Joshua Kosman San Francisco Chronicle, Sept 2012
“As Romeo, Joyce DiDonato created a new world every time she sang. The basic tone of her voice was pure gold. Her control, nuance and range-shifts were impeccable, from her lowest tenor tones to her highest trills—at every instant she was acting with her voice.” ~ David Littlejohn Wall Street Journal November 2012
“I Capuleti e i Montecchi” is packed with limpid melodies that in the wrong hands can seem insipid. But there was no danger of that with Joyce DiDonato and Nicole Cabell as the lovers. DiDonato, peerless among today’s bel canto mezzos-sopranos, imbued Romeo with burnished, even tone, full of ardent longing.” ~ Mike Silverman Associated Press October 2012
“DiDonato, looking svelte in Romeo’s trousers, set the evening’s gold standard. From her first entrance, the mezzo’s vibrant, lustrous singing and keen dramatic presence created an indelibly anguished hero. DiDonato’s voice is a marvel – tender and expressive in Bellini’s long-breathed melodies, mercurial in the opera’s most intricate passagework – and her ornamentation is focused and flawless. Her Act 1 duet with Cabell was sublime and ‘Deh! tu bell’anima,’ sung in the Capulet tomb was ravishing.” ~ Georgia Rowe Opera News December 2012
“Joyce DiDonato’s international reputation continues to grow and is well deserved. Her Romeo is known around the world and San Francisco is lucky to have such a gripping, colorful, and inviting performance to behold. She floats pianissimos with ease and never gives a hint of unsteadiness or strain flying through the ornamentation of her part.” ~ Out West Arts Sept 2012