The big surprise of this one-shot Barbiere was the debut – and the one and only scheduled performance – of Joyce DiDonato as Rosina. (She is not on next season’s roster.) Considering her extensive international resumé as a singer, comedienne and ardent blogger (known as “Yankee Diva”), you might think Vienna could have found something a little more high-profile for her.
With luck, it will come when Dominique Meyer, currently of the Théatre des Champs-Elysées replaces Holender in 2010, or if Theater an der Wien can find a place for the American mezzo in a Baroque opera, especially one by her beloved Handel.
As with most repertory revivals at Staatsoper … DiDonato had about six hours of rehearsal, none of it onstage, in costume or with orchestra. How much was spontaneous and how much was rehearsed we shall never know, but suffice it to say, she vamped, camped and cavorted her way into the Viennese public’s heart. Ravishing in powder blue, she dazzled the hearer with interpolations verging on the impossible (I was reminded of Beverly Sills’s sometimes wild improvisations), highlighted by a stunning trill. Basically, she blew everyone else off the stage.
– Opera News, July, 2009
Her two new Handel recordings recently made a “Furore”, and her reputation precedes her. The New York Times raved about her first Met Rosina, and now the American mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato has sung the role for the first – and only – time at the Vienna State Opera – in the 352nd performance ofthe production by Günther Rennert.
Thank goodness her singing was not as old-fashioned as the staging. On the contrary, she tossed off crystal-clear coloratura, presented a dark, secure low register, a confidently nuanced mid-range, bright and voluminous high notes – in short, everything that makes for great, modern belcanto style.
She appears undaunted by the role’s many technically tricky passages, and even more: she sang musically challenging variations on every repeated phrase, designed every single bar with brio, and presented a psychologically multi-faceted characterisation with wildly joyful abandon.
– Rainer Elstner, Wiener Zeitung, April 16, 2009