by Janet Smith
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In the fall of last year, just before the world blew up, star mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato was riding a career high. She had just debuted the role of opera singer Arden Scott in Great Scott at the Dallas Opera and was planning a world tour of little-known bel canto works.

Then gunmen and suicide bombers attacked the streets of Paris, sending her on a dramatically new, heartfelt artistic course. It’s resulted in a deeply moving CD, a multimedia concert that soon hits Vancouver, and even a website and hashtag (#TalkPeace) for people to share their hopes and fears. Her driving question: “In the midst of chaos, how do you find peace?”

“For some reason the Paris attacks struck me very strongly,” she tells the Straight over the phone from Amsterdam, where she’s about to perform In War and Peace: Harmony Through Music. She has just premiered it the night before in the still-fraught city of Brussels, where the terrorists hatched their plan. “I had just finished the role in a new opera in Dallas, where my character wondered if art really mattered. And I said, ‘I want to do something important and bring peace to the forefront.’ We look to music to calm us down.”

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