by Warwick Thompson
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When you reach the level of box office pulling-power of mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, you’d think you could pretty much call the shots: demand certain operas be staged just for you, veto your co-stars, insist that your dressing room be swivelled 75 degrees eastwards to suit your chakra, that sort of thing. Not DiDonato. When she talks about coming to make her staged role debut as the heroine of Massenet’s Werther at The Royal Opera – a prospect which already has her hordes of fans toasting their good fortune – it’s clear she feels she is the lucky one.

‘Charlotte is a role I always knew I had to sing, but somehow the chance never arose. Then they suggested my doing it at The Royal Opera, and I said: “Yes!” [Imagine an air-punch at this point and you’ll get the joyous champagne-pop of her exclamation]. Really, if Tony Pappano calls you, you drop everything and run. It was a no-brainer.’

The Kansas-born singer has long been a favourite at The Royal Opera and has gained reams of superlative reviews in new productions of La donna del lago, Maria Stuarda, Cendrillon and Il barbiere di Siviglia (in which, during a revival, she broke her leg but famously, and miraculously, carried on singing).

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