“DiDonato inhabits the role of the doomed Queen Semiramide with an ease and a generosity towards her fellow performers that looks likely to set a benchmark for future productions.”

William Ward – The Arts Desk

“Joyce DiDonato’s performance in the title role was simply astonishing. Semiramide is a somewhat tricky role; written for Isabella Colbran at the end of her career it sits rather low … DiDonato showed us her wonderfully firm middle and fine lower registers, whilst giving full due to the upper notes (Colbran was probably a mezzo-soprano with a high extension). Her singing of the role’s complex passagework was vibrant and expressive, yet at no point did she seem to be knitting for the sake of it. Whilst her act one solo, ‘Bel raggio lusinghier’, was suitably ravishing and dazzling, it was with the Act Two duets with Assur (Mirco Palazzi) and Arsace (Daniela Barcellona), that the dramatic thrust of the work really takes place. Here Rossini moves away from convention to move the drama forward during the duet. That for Palazzi and DiDonato which opened Act Two made thrilling drama as the two struck sparks off each other. That for Barcellona and DiDonato was more complex, as Arsace struggled with the idea of killing his mother in revenge for her involvement in the murder of his father.”

Planet Hugill

Semiramide is a rare visitor to the opera house, and hand on heart I doubt we’d hear it at all were it not for the virtuoso writing Rossini devoted to his title character. The role is a godsend for any lyric soprano or, as here with the stellar Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano. Her first act duet of misunderstanding with Arsace (a travesti role) is an absolute stonker, with death-defying runs and vocal body-popping for both women.”

Mark Valencia – What’s On Stage

“… in the title role Joyce DiDonato melds notes and drama together in a performance of extraordinary virtuosity and expressive mastery.”

George Hall – The Stage

“From the first bars of the Overture – magnificently executed by the orchestra – the conductor Antonio Pappano demonstrates complete command of the sprawling score, pacing it with an ideal combination of panache and clarity as well as sensitively providing the singers with the support they need to interpret extremely demanding music.

They meet all its challenges triumphantly. In the title-role, Joyce DiDonato is wonderfully expressive in her big aria “Bel raggio”, making this apparent monster of a woman credibly human and vulnerable. In two sublime duets that set my spine tingling, she blends exquisitely with the darker tones of her beloved Arsace – a swaggeringly virtuosic Daniela Barcellona – before electrifying us in a confrontation with her erstwhile partner-in-crime Assur … This is a production to change minds and hearts: I’ve previously found Semiramide rather a bore: after this knockout performance, I can’t wait to hear it again.”

Rupert Christiansen – Telegraph

“Rossini’s last Italian opera, Semiramide, has over the years served as a vehicle for such divas as Joan Sutherland (La Stupenda), June Anderson and Montserrat Caballé.

Their modern counterpart is the US mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, no less stupendous in the role. Whether incandescent with anger, haughty in triumph or tender in love, she delivers an account of the troubled queen that is both technically astounding and soul-searching.”

Barry Millington – Evening Standard

“Joyce DiDonato doesn’t fling out stratospheric top notes with abandon, but the quality and artistry of her intonation, coloratura and trills are astounding – her brief injections of fuller tone in her lower-voice phrasing are so expressive they hurt – and she gets deep into the psyche of the wicked queen and her murky passion.”

Peter Reed – Classical Source

“Joyce DiDonato’s tremendous talent is virtually unequalled in today’s opera world; she brings to the stage the allure of a true diva without – it seems – any of the usual ‘baggage’ we would customarily expect. Given her magnificent performance as Semiramide – and previously as Adalgisa in Norma (review click here) – I am surprised to see her still called a mezzo-soprano. You can hear many famous sopranos with much darker voices and less secure top notes than she has. She is also one of the best actors amongst the current crop of ‘star’ opera singers and whilst her bearing was suitably regal throughout, this Semiramide was also undeniably human. DiDonato was emotionally engaged in the queen’s plight and I found myself holding my breath during her brilliant coloratura …though she clearly wasn’t! Her Act I ‘Bel raggio lusinghier’ was a masterclass and the long role seemed to have little effect on the excellence of her singing.”

Jim Pritchard – Seen and Heard

“A fine actor as well as a superb vocal technician, DiDonato probes Semiramide’s tortured psyche with remarkable veracity. There’s depth and meaning in every phrase, and even the most exacting coloratura passages are placed at the service of the drama. Her duets with Barcellona’s Arsace are both spectacular and moving, their voices perfectly blended.”

Tim Ashley – The Guardian

“Joyce DiDonato led the performance as the title role, and was as stunning as ever. DiDonato continues to prove that her voice is made for this repertory, with chromatic scales and ornaments that made this opera-goer gasp. It is something of a miracle that she is able to make this treacherous queen likeable, I was rooting for her even after it was revealed how murderous of a traitor she is.”

John Beckett – Schmopera

“In Rossini’s day the singing was all that mattered. And so it is here. Usurping a role that has latterly been a favourite of coloratura sopranos, mezzo DiDonato trumps them at their own game in the showpiece arias and displays a range of vocal colours, technique and expression that could leave any rivals for the role today standing. The ultimate challenge for her — Bellini’s Norma — surely cannot be far off.”

Richard Fairman – Financial Times

“There could be no better choice for the role of Semiramide than stellar mezzo Joyce DiDonato. She takes the show-stopping coloratura in her stride and also finds a sympathetic side to the despotic queen.”

Clare Colvin – Express

“Rossini wrote the cruelly demanding title role of Semiramide for his vocally threadbare wife, and then watched as she crashed her way through the 1823 premiere and got booed off the stage.

No such fate awaits mezzo Joyce DiDonato, thank heaven, whose vocal and dramatic skills are so jaw-dropping as to leave one incredulous. She goes head-to-head with Rossini, and wins, hands down.”

Warwick Thompson – Metro News

“This Semiramide is a triumph for Joyce DiDonato, a singer of power and refinement, now in her full maturity. She fills the house with a flow of glorious tone which, when married as it is to a complete understanding of her role, the murderous Queen Semiramide, is totally irresistible.”

David Mellor – Daily Mail

“Joyce DiDonato, injects sap into a hefty, at times excessive score. The results are stunning.

Great divas such as Maria Callas and Joan Sutherland helped restore interest in Rossini. DiDonato, in her prime, is in their formidable mould. She has an astonishing gift for singing pianissimo, and she can act. Instead of being two-dimensional, her Semiramide is a sentient and dignified figure (despite still being pretty unpleasant).”

Fiona Maddocks – The Guardian

“DiDonato sings a memorably beautiful Bel raggio lusinghier, the opera’s hit number, as part of a more sympathetic than usual portrayal of the queen”

The Times

“And then…and then…you get Joyce DiDonato. I’ve never heard a singer inhabit a role the way she does; vocally, musically, dramatically, humanly. Even if she parked and barked she’d be worth turning up for, but you get the whole package. Singers like Joyce DiDonato (and I say that like there are lots of singers like Joyce DiDonato – there aren’t) are why opera exists. They’re why composers write the works in the first place, why conductors like Antonio Pappano get out of bed in the morning and why people like me turn up at 6:30 and joyfully sit in a dark room for four hours with 2,000 strangers to listen to a weird stories with long lost (presumed dead) sons, portentous ghosts and convenient letters in them … Nights like these are why I love opera. They’re why I come to opera houses full of hope, even on nights when I’m not really in the mood, and sometimes, just sometimes, leave four hours later grinning from ear to ear, feeling human, glad to be alive and glad I live near an opera house producing work this good.”

Matt Hutchinson – The Arburturian

“DiDonato’s Semiramide was acted with dignity and restraint, and indeed was beautifully sung… DiDonato was technically superb in a way that allowed her soft singing in particular to cast a spell. Her delicate, dusky coloratura made for a remarkable ‘Bel raggio’, but her two duets with Arsace and Assur were the highlights.”

John Allison – Opera Magazine