by Kyle MacMillan
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Few if any of operatic singers today are more esteemed than mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato. Critics and colleagues alike have lavished praise not only on the sheer beauty of her voice but also on her refined technique, artistic honesty and natural expressiveness. Take the extraordinary tribute that composer Jake Heggie wrote when Gramophone magazine named her to its Hall of Fame: “The staggering, joyful artistry of Joyce DiDonato reminds us that in any generation there are few giants. Joyce is not only a great, brave and inspiring artist — one of the finest singers of our time — but she is also a transformative presence in the arts. Those who know her repertoire are in awe of her gifts, and those who know nothing of it are instantly dazzled and engaged.”

Though she has appeared with many of the world’s most prestigious opera companies and symphony orchestras, one such organization has eluded her: the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. But that will change Sept. 29-Oct. 1, when she makes her CSO debut, joining Music Director Riccardo Muti in the orchestra’s first performances of Giuseppe Martucci’s song cycle, La canzone dei ricordi (“The Song of Memory”). Later this season, she will return to Chicago to present “In War and Peace: Harmony Through Music,” a program of Baroque arias on Dec. 9 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.

It’s a fabulous and welcome twist of fate, as I just adore Chicago,” DiDonato said in an e-mail interview. “The great thing is that I have the opportunity to sing with this legendary orchestra for the first time and to meet Maestro Muti again for only the second time. I will treasure the moment, I’m certain. And to come back later with a personal project that means so much to me will be a great gift.”

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